I tried to keep this introductory post as brief as possible. My apologies for rambling a bit. This debate could potentially get ugly and very messy, but I feel it's something that contemporary academia has to deal with. The audience of poetry has always been tied in with the university; most people who read poetry are university students and the professors who assign the poetry. However, in recent years the increase in creative writing programs has led some people to question the future of poetry and other forms of creative literature. It is certainly true that far more people are writing than ever before, as demonstrated by an increasing demand for creative writing classes. While the enrollment in these classes continues to increase, it seems as though fewer people are taking the time to read poetry and other literature. This raises what is, for me, a serious issue regarding the select status of poetry and "high" art. I am a firm believer in the idea of objectively "good" and "bad" poetry. I maintain that art can be classified as good and bad, and that while it may seem difficult to do so and impossible to prove, we still today judge art as good and bad. I adhere to T.S. Eliot's belief that a work of art cannot be sufficient in and of itself. It must set itself against all the works that have come before it. It must react to and respond to its tradition. The gradually increasing number of creative writing majors and programs challenges this idea of poetry as a "high" art, and threatens (I believe) to create an almost "socialistic" school of literary study, in which all works are deemed equally good regardless of meaning or study. I, for one, cannot accept this transformation. I have to believe that art must be achieved; that it is not simply inherent within a person. I believe that genius is inherent; but skill and knowledge of an artistic form's tradition must be present in order for a work to qualify as "high" art. This leads us to another issue. In this contemporary scholarly world that has seen such an increase in the desire to write (and not to read), it is not possible that all the "poetry" produced is being, or can be, read. So, we are faced with a question: does poetry that is read by no one have meaning? Can art serve a purely self-legitimizing purpose, or should art serve something higher? Despite the intensity of personal poetry, much of it has been studied and many further meanings and interpretations have been offered, especially on writers such as Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. However, both of these poets were not illiterate writers. They read a great deal of poetry and literature, and studied the tradition which they chose to identify with. It is my belief that purely personal poetry, birthed from the mind of someone who reads no poetry or literature, cannot be considered art. It has no place within its tradition because it is not responding to anything within its tradition. It has no understanding of its own presence and purpose, except from a completely personal perspective. I do not believe this qualifies as art. Perhaps it serves as therapeutic in some sense; but as art, I believe that it fails. I'm certain that many will disagree with my position on art. I open this thread to discussion on the matter and why people feel the way they do.