First, I've got to bring Chris Piuma's challenging, much-much-appreciated questions out of the poetryscorecard comment dungeon (if we only had more of these questions in our classrooms, our homes, our poems):
1. Are your students representative of people (Americans?) (younger Americans?) as a whole?
2. Are they more or less resistant to new art than a similar sample would have been 10 years ago? 5? 50?
3. Does their resistance carry across all genres? Are they as unexcited by new music as they are by new words or new images?
4. Do they feel that they enjoy a wide array of types of artwork? Do they feel that the various artworks that you think are varied are, in fact, varied, or do they think that they are rather similar compared to the range of artworks that they appreciate?
5. Is the goal of art appreciation the endless quest for novelty? Is the goal of art appreciation the ability to appreciate all art? Is the goal of art appreciation to make one happier? Is the goal of art appreciation to make one able to appreciate all types of art so that no matter what artistic situation you are in, you will be able to appreciate it, and thus be happy? (Substitute other words for "happy" ad lib.)
6. If your students loved novelty, what would your job as teacher be? If your students loved novelty, would they have already sought it out for themselves? If your students loved novelty, would it force you, as a teacher, to search even harder for novelty, in order to "stay ahead of them"? If your students loved novelty, would it lead to a situation where they were teaching you as much as you were teaching them? If your students loved novelty, would you be out of a job?
7. Which experimental poets have best taken advantage of audiences' love of being fast-fed their entertainment? Which experimental poets have used audiences' love of being fast-fed their entertainment to negotiate with the audience by giving them what they want in order to drag them to a place they didn't know they wanted to go to? Would such an approach still be "experimental"? Would it be "selling out"? Would it be "worthwhile"? Would it make you "unpopular in the experimental poetry community", perhaps like a populist historian among academic historians?
Then, over the next week or so, I'll work on answering Chris' questions.