Self Portrait in an Academic Poetry Industrial Complex Mirror (2019)

As part of National Poetry Month in 2019, I was asked to write a short essay for the Poetry Foundation. My piece is titled “Self Portrait in an Academic Poetry Industrial Complex Mirror.” I decided to write about academic poetry, power dynamics, the relationship between rigor in writing and rigor’s complicity in the student loan crisis. There’s a lot in there. I end on cute animals. It’s a fairly honest assessment of where I currently land related to all these issues.

Also, I find the graphic for the essay HILARIOUS. I’m grateful to my friend Todd for finding someone to do this quickly for me. I’m referencing the avant-garde’s, academicization and institutionalization through an oblique glance at John Ashbery with this image.

Here’s a brief excerpt:

When I was asked to write this blog post, I had many topics I considered, but I kept returning to this—that the relative rareness of my not being in academia is in fact a rare thing… especially when I can’t help but feel that my work is so, well, academic.

What I’ll try to touch on is the relationship between experimental aesthetics and economic exploitation in the academic poetry industrial complex. Are you a PhD escapee, like me? Do you want to get an advanced creative writing degree? Are you writing faculty somewhere? My post will hopefully resonate with you.