“I like your poems,” said a former student, after I published some poetry I had been writing about social issues in my twenties. “But they are rather easy to understand.”
“That’s the whole darn point, dear,” I wanted to say. “In fact, the final poem in the book mocks snobbishly vague and abstract literature.” For courtesy, I instead thanked him for reading.
My generation grew up thinking that “authors” and “scholars” are some extraordinary beings who must think far above the level of everyday humans like us–not to mention poets themselves. Especially the idea of “research” and “publishing” one’s work was reserved for the special, mysteriously capable few.
Today, we no longer live in a world where writers and readers are separate, where production of new knowledge is the domain of only the select few. We all explore issues and write about them, and we constantly share and spread our ideas in many ways.
Unfortunately, the elitism, the abstraction, the mystification, and the general fear about research and publication still persist–keeping everyday writing of the masses fully separate from the publications of a special class of “writers” in the academic sphere. Perhaps relatedly, too many of our academic scholars make a variety of excuses about their inability and unwillingness to do research and to publish new findings and ideas. Continue reading