I had a good time reading this post and (especially) the related comments at The Atlantic Online about who does and doesn’t read Harry Potter. I don’t like popcorn that much, but it made me want to settle in with a big bowl and watch the fireworks.
What struck me about the back-and-forth–not to mention the vitriol–in the comments is how much it reminds me of the discussions (read: arguments) poets get into about their preferred forms and schools. There are also the hot button topics: Are workshops just poet mills? Is “big poetry” out to squash the DIY publishing movement? [Insert your own pet topic here.]
What I never get about these discussions (Harry Potter or poetry) is why attack mode goes into overdrive to such an extreme. If you like a certain kind of poetry, can’t you just enjoy and appreciate it without maintaining that everyone who doesn’t like it is an idiot? Can’t you rally around a certain school or style without declaring that everything else is inferior–or worse, doesn’t qualify as poetry at all?
No wonder it’s so hard to attract readers to poetry. Once they sense that one way or another they’re going to get dragged into an intellectual throw-down (“Ewww, you read that guy?” “Oh, please–poetry that doesn’t rhyme is just crap!”), they run for the hills.
By the way, since I don’t care whether I read Harry Potter–including why or why not–I can’t imagine anyone else does, either.