I have been thinking quite a bit about poetry lately. First, I read again Edmund White's excellent essays on T.S. Eliot and Gertrude Stein in Axel's Castle. Then I came upon a (sadly misplaced) article arguing that popular music lyrics now serve the function once served by verse. The author explains that music's reliance on rhythm and rhyme trip the brain's poetry synapses in a way that modern free-form verse cannot. Then, I came upon this article on the state of modern American poetry in the New Yorker, occasioned by Ruth Lilly's $200 million grant to Poetry magazine (the magazine that first published "Prufrock"). While less conservative than the piece on pop music, this article too takes a few swipes at MFA workshop verse.

I am tempted to enter into a pact with my fellow writers wherein we all swear to never enter into an MFA program. Unfortunately, such a pact is much like one of those arrangements wherein a pair of platonic friends promise to marry one another if neither is married by the age of 40: Everyone enters the arrangement secretly hoping to renege. Eventually, the fortunate recipient of a fellowship or a wife is obliged to break his promise, while the faithful adherent becomes, essentially, the loser that's left.