Poetry’s a drug on the market. You can’t move the stuff. No one reads it any more. The people who learnt it by heart at school are all dead or demented. The poems they treasured – stirring, descriptive, romantic – have fallen out of fashion. Poetry book sales are at an all time low. Various last great hopes – Martians, punks, rappers (and Pam Ayres) – are all now history. Without State sponsorship poetry would already have disappeared. Poetry’s a lost cause.
The people at American poetry publisher Knopf (part of Bertelsmann’s Random House) are acting like it’s not dead at all, though. Doing as they should: marketing the sublime with a sense of fun and visible joy in the product. Quite undefeated by sales figures and shifting public sentiment, obviously. They’ve filled their web site with neat stuff (although I think it’s a bit thin on community despite some obvious opportunities). I like the ‘broadsides‘, which are little poetry posters you can print out and the eCards make perfect sense and there are plenty of poems, some of them read out by the poets themselves.