Interesting article in this week’s issue of The New Yorker: The Moneyed Muse–What can two hundred million dollars do for poetry? by Dana Goodyear. It talks about an almost unheard of donation ($200M) to a small, eclectic literary publication called Poetry Magazine. Gives the history of the publication, talks about the woman who gave the donation and why, and looks at how the donation has changed the publication and created an auxillary foundation.
Not to ruin the plot for you, but there is apparently a sort of “corporatization” (that’s my characterization, not the article’s) of poetry as a result. The executive director and several staff members are former corporate executives; the money came from Eli Lily Pharmaceutical heiress, Ruth Lilly; several staff members are from the private sector (e.g., Microsoft). The article highlights the magazine and foundation’s push for a change in poetry–a new movement to make poetry more accessible and, one could argue, more marketable.
My ears perked up when a critic of Poetry Magazine and the foundation also threw Ted Kooser in there with them–”them” being this market-driven approach to poetry–presumably because of his corporate past life.
Read it and tell me what you think. It’s a long read.