Joshua/Jane responds to my last post:
For what it's worth, I'm not sure that I draw the same conclusions. I'm interested in the expectation that poets ought to have theorized their own work in certain ways -- and how that expectation might be historicized. I'm less interested in debating whether actually theorizing one's own work is good or bad, and am prepared to take that on a case by case basis.Nothing here to disagree with: and SM & PV were precisely what I had in mind when I mentioned "mardi" – tho the fiction writers at least in my old program were far more like to think "Mardi Gras." At least within the institutions of MFA and PhD programs in creative writing, one might historicize the recent demand for poets to theorize their work in terms of something like disciplinary mimeticism: English studies managed to legitimize the reading of vernacular literature precisely by inventing the theoretical scaffolding of New Criticism; creative writing, now by some accounts one of the few growth sectors in the humanities, is trying to legitimize itself – while simultaneously trying to retain the air of the individual afflatus – by requiring self-reflexive "poetics" moments.
Relatedly: from my own experience of writing programs, I would say that it's frustrating that "poetics" (et al) courses are expected in lieu of critical/analytic courses happpening down the hall in the English Department. I am not at all averse to the idea that writing program students ought be expected to labor over critical knowledge, and indeed, contra your history, fear that these poetics classes are disreputable not for being an unnecessary supplement, but rather an insufficient one: a pale compensatory veil to cover over the absence of historical, aesthetic, and philosophical engagements that were once far more common among poets. When I hear "mardi," I think Mallarmé and Valéry.
The increasing appearance of "poetics" sections in poetry anthologies, and even of anthologies of poetics, is I suspect largely driven by the market these new "poetics" emphases in creative writing programs have created. Most of such books are precisely as useless as the ubiquitous, mushroom-like "introduction to theory" volumes that turn up in my department mailbox every month.