Last week, I did an informal survey by asking my class of about 25 students how many of them had bought a volume of poetry in the last couple of years. One person. How many had bought one in the last 5 years? None. Ever? None.
Maybe volumes of poetry don't fit within the budgets and more accurately the lifestyles of most contemporary college students. Aside from English majors or people taking literature courses, many folks perhaps have little other incentive for students to purchase a book of poems, right?
A few of the students in my class had taken literature courses before, but usually those classes include novels and anthologies, not individual volumes of poetry. The one student who did purchase a volume of poetry had taken a creative writing class; and creative writing faculty are typically the only professors inclined to regularly assign contemporary volumes of poetry at least on a regular.
But beyond poets who are teachers and the students in their classes, who else buys volumes of poetry and why? Or, better yet, we might raise questions about barriers that prevent potential poetry readers from purchasing or checking out volumes of poetry from libraries.
Imagine a poetry campaign that took African American readers seriously
A growing distance between poets and readers?
Toward a Sociology of African American Readers & Their Relationships to Poetry
Why potential poetry readers need advocates