Doug Anderson: What is Poetry For?
I’ve been thinking about all the conversations about whether or not poetry “matters” in this culture and thinking maybe it’s a silly question. We have a country on the verge of civil war with a racist Congress that kisses corporate ass, is intent on setting women’s reproductive rights back to the nineteen fifties and returning to the country to pre-Roosevelt impoverishment. 618 MORE WORDS
I’ve been thinking about newspapers lately, and their most recent avatar, TV news, both the network and the cable kind. What intrigues me most about this use of prose is that it mainly dwells on catastrophes, setbacks, misfortune and misery. It is prose born of the modern city, London to be exact, in the form of The Spectator, edited by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele for about a year (1711-1712). It had a circulation of 3 thousand readers, but the pass-along, as magazines call it, reached some 60,000 readers, about a tenth of London’s 18th century population.
The paper was intended to help city dwellers learn the ways of urban life; it was only within the previous century that vast numbers of people began to migrate to London and live there full time. Canals were the main way to travel, and leaving behind country life was partly the…
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