“There weren’t a lot of poets back then”: A Valentine for Our Muse

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Holly Prado Northup and Harry Northup sent me a link to an interview done with them by Aram Saroyan on the “Poet’s Cafe” show on KPFK. As I listened to it, one of the comments made by Aram Saroyan confirmed what many of us who have been working as poets for a half-century remember as being the case: “There weren’t that many poets back then.”

I don’t think it’s the case that there were only a few hundred poets in the United States back in the late 1940s, as Ron Silliman more than once suggested in his blog; nor do I think that a full census of poets in the mid- to late 1960s would have resulted in a tally only slightly over 2,000. But it is the case that poetry was not a career option between 1960 and 1975, as it appears to be now, for those born since that period. “Baby boomers” born between 1945 and 1955 who found themselves turning 20 years old and proclaiming to one and all that they had decided to commit their lives to poetry were individuals for whom life was so haphazard that nothing else could establish some inner equilibrium.

Yes, I know it will seem like sentimental nostalgia, but I preferred it the old way. And once again, I send the muse who has returned our devotion with her unceasing succor a valentine of profound appreciation.

To hear the interview:

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/poetscafe/episodes/2018-02-02T21_58_36-08_00