> Vu de New York : Is Poetry (Scene) alive in New York (and beyond)?

Vu de New York : Is Poetry (Scene) alive in New York (and beyond)?

Par |2019-01-19T11:32:31+00:00 24 novembre 2012|Catégories : Essais|

There is, I believe, this gene­ral mis­con­cep­tion that some­how America has great poets, but that poe­try is not part of American pop culture.
I had a pri­vi­lege of having been student of, befrien­ding, inter­vie­wing, wri­ting about, even trans­la­ting into Serbian, a num­ber of older gene­ra­tion American, in this case all New York poets, who were either popu­lar bards such as Allen Ginsberg, or had a more aca­de­mic tasks of popu­la­ri­zing poe­try on cam­puses and as Poet Laureates, such as Mark Strand and Charles Simic, or, as both Poet Laureat and the Nobel Price Winner, Joseph Brodsky, who was glo­bal­ly popu­lar and was popu­la­ri­zing poe­try by being a spi­ri­tus movens behind New York sub­way “Poetry in Motion” pro­ject. Still the mis­con­cep­tion pre­vails.
After living in New York for over two decades I can assure you that the scene in New York seems to prove the oppo­site – poe­try is vibrant in exact­ly pop culture way. The present hip trend of café reci­tals pret­ty much star­ted with Allen Ginsberg’s per­for­ming poe­try in the 60s until his death. One of his last public rea­dings was at New York University Poetry Slam in 1987, short­ly before his death. He also intro­du­ced me in the 80s to the Nuyorican Poets Café – the grand­dad­dy of today’s poe­try slams.   in 1973 it hos­ted the first poe­try slam ever in New York City in 1989, and 20 years later is still going strong.   
This is to say that New York poe­try scene puts mis­con­cep­tions of poe­try as an aloof, aca­de­mic, high brow enter­prise, pret­ty much at rest.  Poetry rea­dings in New York take place in cafes, bars and rock clubs, and the young public is there not only to lis­ten to poets but to inter­act with them. Those New York poets of today who fol­low the example of the late Allen Ginsberg, or who re-dis­co­ve­red Patti Smith and other popu­lar bards of the recent past, are as much enter­tai­ning as they are enga­ging. The neigh­bo­rhoods, which fea­ture the highest concen­tra­tion of poe­try events – the Lower East Side in Manhattan and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, along with Ridgewood and Bushwick – also are neigh­bo­rhoods where a lot of up-and-coming bands and emer­ging artists are active. This inter­dis­ci­pli­na­ry spi­rit is not new to New York – poets and visual artists were almost inse­pa­rable in the 30’s and 50’s, while in the 60’s they grew close to folk and rock musi­cians. Today the proxi­mi­ty to hip-hop is evident.
It is the poets who are still fol­lo­wing the more lite­ra­ry roots and espe­cial­ly those moder­nist stric­tures that seem to remain locked in aca­de­mic circles and rare­ly manage to engage wider audiences. But, even this endan­ge­red spices have found a way to sur­vive and thrive in the the inter­net era in a kind of renais­sance of  lite­ra­ry maga­zines in print that are esti­ma­ted now to be in thou­sands – 2,800 to be exact. Print admi­rers treat them as art objects them­selves.
Not to men­tion the unli­mi­ted glo­bal reach and poten­tial, the vita­li­ty, the fierce new­ness of  on-line lite­ra­ry maga­zines such as the one I am wri­ting this for.