Men die every day: Poetry and value

This is a response to a negative review of Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems by August Kleinzahler, first published in Poetry April 2004, which I happened across while browsing the Poetry Foundation website.

I’ll leave Garrison Keillor for others to dissect. I’d rather talk about William Carlos Williams. Kleinzahler quotes the well known passage from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” that ends,

It is difficult
to get the news from poems
yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

Kleinzahler takes issue with the idea, writing, “A pretty sentiment, to be sure, but simply untrue, as anyone who has been to the supermarket or ballpark recently will concede. Ninety percent of adult Americans can pass through this life tolerably well, if not content, … without having a poem read to them by Garrison Keillor or anyone else.” Continue reading

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