The recent American Academy of Arts and Sciences report makes clear that we have collectively condoned a massive defunding of arts education in this country, eroding an important aspect of cultural literacy in the process. While the public has taken its eye off humanities and the arts, universities have continued to serve as keepers of the flame of the arts throughout the rather moribund period in which we find ourselves. So, I was saddened earlier this year when a reliable source informed me that the University of California had suspended its New California Poetry series, due to lack of funding. This probably comes as small surprise in light of the well-publicized funding fiasco that is the UC system, but one always hopes that poetry will escape the chopping block. For the record, the NCP mission statement was to “present works by emerging and established poets that reflect UC Press’s commitment to innovative and aesthetically wide-ranging literary traditions.” Among its authors were Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Sarah Gridley, Mark Levine, Srikanth Reddy, Cole Swenson and Keith Waldrop.
In honor of the good work of the Press, I’ve linked to some of the poems subsequently published in NCP collections. I’d urge anyone with their own NCP favorites to send me their links so that I can add them to this post. Here’s hoping that a return to fiscal solvency is in UC’s future, and that such a future is inaugurated with a New New California Poetry series.