Thursday, December 30, 2004

No Pacifiers, Please

I just came across a Xanga blogring for poets 21 and under. (For those not in the know, Xanga is typically the blog of choice for Asian American teenagers.) The description for the blogring reads: "I find that we younger poets are not recognized as much in society. This blog is just for us. Anyone ages twenty-one and under who loves to write poetry, I encourage you to join." http://www.xanga.com/groups/group.aspx?id=2491

And ladies and gentlemen, if you look below, I committed the same error of not recognizing young Asian-American poets by assuming that Asian American poets in K-12 would not submit to the Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation anthology. It was a move on my part that essentially stuck a pacifier in their mouths and whispered, no, goochie goochie goo, you aren't real poets yet, my darlings. You are merely children who should be in awe of "adult," i.e., real, poetry. It was thus a bad move on my part, IMHO.

I remember what it was like to write poetry as a teenager and not have it taken seriously. I remember the expectation that I write safe poems about trees and flowers -- because, you know, any poems that deviate too much from the norm necessitate a trip to the guidance counselor. It can be tough for artists under 21, especially artists under 18, to freely exercise their right to artisitic speech. And this dilemma is especially pertinent to Asian American poets given that, demographically, such poets are much younger on average. Perhaps a solution is to put together an anthology composed of Asian-American poetry for poets under 21, though that would have its own set of issues, such as determining a cutoff age (18 or 21, for example), whether it segregates such poets even more, and whether to exclude, for example, sexually explicit poems out of fear that parents might be offended and possibly sue the publisher.

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