Ta-Nehisi Coates and his commenters are whining that nobody likes the inaugural poem enough and he argues that if you don’t read a lot of poetry you should just shut up and sit down. I left a comment which seemed sufficiently mean-spirited to repost here:
To my ongoing sorrow, I have read a lot of contemporary poetry over the years. Elizabth Alexander isn’t horrible by those standards…which means, yeah, she’s pretty bad. I mean:
“I know there’s something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.”
First line, big cliche; second line lax waffling vague imagery bordering on cliche; third line — what, did she bash her nose in the dark? This is lazy, uninteresting crap; vague inspirational jeremiad. Blech.
I think it’s an extremely good sign that people are willing to come out and say that this stuff is dreck. One of contemporary poetry’s most serious problems is the fact that people feel so alienated from it that they don’t even bother to dislike it. A little (or a lot) more healthy disdain would go a long way towards making poetry more viable, both aesthetically and (dare I say it) commercially.