Having read of it in the newspapers, and seen other people's commentaries, I was at first inclined to think that Rebecca Watts was unwise to write her controversial piece for PN Review.
Indeed, I'm inclined to think that there is room for all kinds of approach to poetry, and her piece did seem to me to be telling us something that is not new, and will always be the case in some form or another. Yes, people do often want something that is easy to assimilate, don't always care about craft, depth, or the quality of ideas, and there will always be publishers that are willing to take on less than scintillating work that nevertheless has a popular following, and sells books. But given that poetry is not widely read, or popular, I have always thought it admirable that publishers are willing to publish it, and booksellers to stock it, let alone in the quantities they do. There are always new poetry books on the shelves, and a lot of it is very good indeed. If selling a few popular books keeps this economically viable, then so be it.
But I don't feel like pouring scorn on Rebecca Watts article. Having just sat down and read it, I was impressed by its passion, its seriousness of approach, and the examples she provides to back up her points; above all by its genuineness, and if you like its authenticity. She is right, popularism in all fields is easy to go along with, but rarely contributes much to the debate it appears to want to address, and has a tendency to wallow in the blindingly obvious. We may sometimes need to be reminded of the obvious, but if we want to advance understanding, more effort is required to deal with the complexities of reality, even if the effort puts a lot of people off. Punk rock might have bludgeoned its way into people's consciousnesses, but its urgency and raw passion undoubtedly spoke of an anger and immediacy that cut its way through the dross of much popular music, but did it provide the depths of feeling and imagination of, say, Beethoven, and will it still be something to be reckoned with years hence, I doubt it.
President Trump has plenty of sound and fury, and pitches his populist politics as being an attack on elites, and the draining of alleged swamps, but if you believe he gives a damn about the everyday people of America I think you are badly wrong. I'm not saying that popular poetry of the kind that Ms Watts is anxious about is in any way Trumpian, but you have to ask yourself whether it is really likely to enhance or progress the art of poetry, or anything else for that matter.