1. There are too many poets. I can't even tell you how many poetry books are published each year. A lot of them. Nobody in America reads poetry except poets and fiction writers desperate to find a way out of their bland novel life. The problem with poetry in America is that there are just too. many. good. books. to. read. I can't keep up, much less provide myself with opportunities to read all the great poetry in America's past. What should I do? Instead of publishing so many books, I suggest we begin publishing digest versions of great books. Poetry's already so short, we should be able to pack at least What Narcissism Means to Me, Sleeping With the Dictionary, Little Ice Age, and Lie Awake Lake in one convenient, brief package. I mean, we sell hamburger buns in sets of ten.
2. There are too many different kinds of poetry. American poetry will never develop a cohesive audience because, unlike television, poetry hasn't developed "a sitcom," "a newsmagazine"—something easily consumable and endlessly replacable. For example, imagine every book was written by Ted Kooser or a Ted Kooser surrogate, or a writer mentored by Ted Kooser or what have you. People might develop a taste for that.
3. Most poets are overpaid and become fat and lazy. Yes. We've seen this time and time again. I call this the "Hollywoodization" of poetry—and now our literary world is full of waddling Harvey Weinsteins in their black suits and colored ties. We have female Harvey Weinstein impersonators. It's getting serious, people. Think of the children. When a poet becomes an overpaid poet *poof!* Their next book wins a [insert prestigious award], newspapers insist we've been reading him/her all along, and then the rest of their life is crap.
4. We do not enjoy bad poetry in the same way we enjoy bad movies. I have a coworker who is obsessed with the film Pootietang. It's an awful film, yet she loves it. There is no poetry counterpart to Pootietang. Bad poetry does not become camp. People do not quote bad poetry to each other at parties and then make friends for life. This is unfortunate.
5. Poetry has been swallowed by academia and now bears no resemblance to the actual world. We should supply each American with a new publication, The Idiot's Guide to Language, and a collectable decoder ring distributed through eBay and Amazon.com. Only Americans who purchase both items will be able to read the poetry being created within academia. Poetry created outside of the academy will fit into one of two new genres of writing: greeting cards or word noise.
6. There are too many lists decrying the problems with American poetry and not enough lists enumerating what's right. If I'm part of the problem, does that mean I'm solved by the solution? Or does the solution now suddenly bear no resemblance to the problem?