Something on The Poetry Foundation's website just made me laugh. Its "Around the Web" page lists categories of interest to poets, and the funny category, for two hundred million, Alex, was "Regional Poetry."
You have, no doubt, heard the term "Regional Theater." Coined in New York it translates to "not New York City." I've lived in cities with thriving theater scenes--Los Angeles and Seattle, among them. I know. For a fact. That New York City theater is not "the" best. It's just often but not always real good. The term "regional," however, casts a shadow over the quality of any other city's theater.
Now Chicago, where Second City (ahem) improv group famously works out, where the Poetry Foundation is based, is calling itelf the epicenter of poetry by referring to all other poetry centers as regional. Don't tell me The Foundation was blind to this when they set up the page.
"Regional Poetry," as opposed to the other kind of poetry?, is apparently found in New York (Poets House, 92nd Street Y, etc.), Seattle (Hugo House), and a few other places.
I know. Fair is fair. Revenge is sweet. Though I think it would be new and brave to forget "regional" and just talk of poetry. Will an Istanbul link, soon to appear, I hope, be considered regional? Are all the many fine poets of Minnesota's "The Loft" simply regional?
And City Lights Bookstore? A wellspring of regional poets? Buffalo? Philly?
It's just silly. That's all. Silly. Trust me, I understand what it can feel like to do battle with the provinciality of the biggest small town in the world, but I still hope for innovation. Our world? Fractured and dangerous. Poetry? A chance to show us this terrified world and offer a new and better vision.
Maybe regional poetry centers will be up to the task.
Note: TPF throws around a lot of money and for a good cause. My argument is with the term only. Also, I wouldn't mind getting a poem in Poetry some day. Stranger things have happened, but usually they aren't legal, or they involve mushrooms.