Can Poetry Reach the Common American Reader?

By Jason Boog Comment

coDe_100109_Armitage_Simic.gifTomorrow two poetry stars will share a stage at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. English poet, playwright and translator Simon Armitage (left) will join recent U.S. Poet laureate Charles Simic (right) for an evening of poetry.

GalleyCat caught up with Armitage for an exclusive interview, getting his thoughts on contemporary poetry. “Poetry in the U.S. is very [college] campus-based” explained the poet. “It may become more like that in the UK as creative writing courses are beginning to flourish. But in the U.K., poetry still tends to reach out to a common reader… It still has a place in our daily lives, even if it is a small place. There’s never been a golden age of poetry, it is a certain extent a marginal activity that allows you to say what you want to with out being dictate by market forces.”

When asked about poetry reading tips, he had this advice: “I am a practiced reader, but I don’t do much more than stand there with a book. I guess what I hope is that the poems are allowed to do their work without any theatrics. Any drama that actually takes place is already in the poem. There are accomplished readers, but that’s what they are–readers.”

The poet concluded: “I’ve read with [Simic] a couple of times before. His work means a great deal to me. He’s one of those voices that bridges American and Europe…He’s taken that and transplanted into an American medium. He’s a very good storyteller, I enjoy that display of very surprising narrative. He’s published quite widely in the U.K.. He’s very engaging on the page … You feel them as much as you understand them. He creates a plausible universe within each poem.”

Follow this link for information about tomorrow night’s reading.