“Poetry is going extinct, government data show”

From the Washington Post (April 24, 2015):

…the “ever-elusive question of readership: does anyone read poetry anymore? Given the widespread availability of poetry on the internet, “its possible that poetrys audience might be greater now than ever,” wrote Kate Angus in The Millions last year. But the numbers below show that that’s emphatically not the case. Some people are still reading it, although that number has been dropping steadily over the past two decades.”

…”Assessing the state of contemporary poetry using survey data and Google Trends feels kind of like measuring the quality of a painting based on how large the canvas is. But just as you can’t truly appreciate a work of art without viewing it in the flesh and on the wall, neither can you come to terms with the current state of poetry without understanding that for 20 years, the readers have been taking their attention elsewhere — and not even the internet is making them come back.”

[visualizations of data included with the article]

“Reading More but Learning Less?”

From the NY Times:  “When one of the “big two” newsweeklies is going out of print, it’s clear that Americans are not consuming news the way they used to. Maybe that’s a good thing, if the technology revolution has made it easier to get more of the kind of information and analysis that readers once sought from Newsweek. But if Americans are finding a more polarized reality online, they may have just grown more partisan with less knowledge, making it more important for forums like presidential debates to deal with the details of policy.”
With posts from Cass Sunstein, Nicholas Carr, Eli Pariser, Denise Cheng, et al

“What Should Children Read?”

From Sara Mosle, “What Should Children Read?” NY Times (November 22, 2012):

“What schools really need isn’t more nonfiction but better nonfiction, especially that which provides good models for student writing. Most students could use greater familiarity with what newspaper, magazine and book editors call “narrative nonfiction”: writing that tells a factual story, sometimes even a personal one, but also makes an argument and conveys information in vivid, effective ways.

What Tom Wolfe once said about New Journalism could be applied to most student writing. It benefits from intense reporting, immersion in a subject, imaginative scene setting, dialogue and telling details. These are the very skills most English teachers want students to develop. What’s odd is how rarely such literary nonfiction appears on English — or other class — reading lists. In addition to a biology textbook, for example, why can’t more high school students read “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”?”