I’m a packrat by nature. You should therefore not be surprised to learn that although I graduated from college in 1990, I still have many of my college textbooks.
I purchased the above text in 1986 for an English class (obviously).
The above textbook cost $25 when I bought it. If that sounds cheap to you, I’ll point out that this would be $65.58 in 2022 dollars. So perhaps college textbooks have always been overpriced. Also, minimum wage was $3.35 per hour in 1986, and $4 to $5 was considered a “typical” hourly wage for a student-level job.
I haven’t written or read much poetry since I took that class.
Why? While I’m more than willing to tilt at windmills, even I have my limits. The market for poetry in the English-speaking has never been great…at least in modern times. The editor of the above text, X.J. Alexander, points this out in an essay near the end of the book. He describes a “poetry glut”. And keep in mind: the above textbook was published a decade before the Internet or Windows 95, back when people who wanted to write had to actually use typewriters or pens. Now we can write entire books on our cellphones.
Like most overly introspective teenagers through the ages, I wrote my share of bad poetry between the ages of 15 and 17, or 1983 and 1985. Teenage crushes, feelings of being misunderstood, and generalized adolescent angst all tend to produce bad poetry, like May weather produces dandelions.
No—you will never see any of those old poems of mine here. All of those old pages disappeared in the chaos of a move in 1988. This was no great loss, neither to me, nor to the American literary canon.
Another nice thing about the pre-Internet era: the potentially embarrassing things we wrote, said, or did tended to disappear with the passage of time. As they should.