Monday, June 11, 2007

TIME Magazine, June 2, 1967

I was--what?--both amused and appalled by the near dismissal of poetry in the current (June 18, 2007) issue of TIME magazine.

Read the article, here:

Current TIME

Forty years ago (not quite to the day) Robert Lowell was on the cover of TIME, featured in a lengthy article on the state of American poetry. Here is the eloquent opening paragraph:

"In a scene that draws forever the line between the poet and the square, Hamlet, prince and poet, converses with the busy bureaucrat Polonius:
Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: Tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Or like a whale.
Polonius: Very like a whale.

Poets, their heads being in the clouds, are those who see whales and camels where others see only a chance of rain. That is why poets will always be more important than meteorologists. Poetry is a great imponderable, since it describes and changes the climate of the mind. It is a touchstone by which the spiritual condition of man may be tested."

Here is a link to the entire article:


I may be wrong about this---forty years is a long time and I wasn't standing watch for most of it--but I don't recall reading as much about poetry--or seeing it as seriously considered--in any major American news magazine in the forty years since.

In the meantime, Paris Hilton and American Idol are everywhere in the press.

Perhaps it is journalism and not poetry that has failed.


Blogger aka Leonardo Likes Gulls said...

Perhaps it is journalism and not poetry that has failed.

***You've said it.

Great post!

3:22 PM  
Blogger Rachel Dacus said...

Wonderful article, and thanks for the link to the two TIME articles. Perhaps it is both journalism and poetry that have failed. After all, what's now called journalism would have been called yellow journalism 40 years ago.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Talia said...

Time magazine should know that I never renewed my subscription.

But there is some truth that there aren't many who read poetry, especailly contemporary, but at the same time, there are not many who read--period. That wasn't mentioned, though. The state of poetry today is represented out of context.

Is that really true about selling 30 books? Surely if I were to publish a book I have about 30 friends and family members who would buy my book, if only to be kind.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Adam Deutsch said...

Yeah. There were definitely some broad strokes in that piece. But the whole article was wedged in the last pages of the mag between adds for almonds, face cream, and Perry Mason on DVD

8:26 AM  
Blogger Adam Deutsch said...

"ads," not adds.

8:27 AM  
Blogger Emily Warn said...

To land on the weekly poetry bestseller list on, requires selling 30 books in a WEEK, which is why, we think, poets who give readings at conferences appear and then just as quickly disappear.

You can check it our and an explanation of where we get our data here:


Emily Warn, Editor

4:15 PM  

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