Thirty-five years have passed since Randall Jarrell complained, in the lead essay of his book Poetry and the Age, about the indifference of the American public toward the American poet, and it is safe, I think, to say that the situation has not changed appreciably since. Indeed, for all the poetry workshops and little magazines that have proliferated in the intervening decades, Americans have, if anything, grown steadily more uninterested in poetry. This lack of interest is particularly discernible on the part of college students. To be sure, many of these students are eager to write poetry—which to them typically means pouring their passions, resentments, and idle thoughts onto the page in whatever words happen to pop into their minds—but few of them have much interest in reading the stuff. And why should they? Outside of the classroom, they’ve never seen a poem, never seen anybody read one, never heard anybody...


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