Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Dumanis, Michael

Subject Headings

Bernstein, Charles, 1950- Vendler, Helen, 1933- Stein, Gertrude, 1874-1946, Canon, Poetry, Creative writing, Language poetry, Poetry, Dana gioia, Can poetry matter, Difficulty in poetry, Innovation, Creative writing, Poetry's readership, Gertrude stein, language poetry, Charles bernstein, University subculture, Patriarchal poetry, Further color notes, Helen vendler, Canon


Dana Gioia's controversial book Can Poetry Matter? challenges poets to write in traditional forms to expand poetry's readership beyond the "subculture" of the university. In response to Gioia's position, my thesis considers the mind-numbing trends in today's entertainment and places importance on innovation to suggest that there is potential danger in Gioia's call to conform. If the artists of a society mold their work like a commodity to be consumed by the masses, this lack of originality could stint creative progress and hinder, rather than encourage, readers' interests. Gioia's position is currently a reference point for contemporary debates about poetry and society. My position offers a new suggestion to general readers: put forth individual effort and pursue professional instruction to learn how to read poetry in order to acquire a broader appreciation for the ways poetic form enriches communication. Furthermore, what is classified as difficult poetry depends upon the canon of a culture. Writers should not be required to reach a set audience or limit their innovation