I was curious earlier this week and went into one of the functions of our DVR service to look for TV programs about poetry. The “WishList” function allows us to find programs that, for instance, contain a certain keyword or actor’s name or subject. So I created a new wish list for the keyword “poet” since that term will also pick up the term “poetry” as well, and nothing came up. I have used this function to find shows about all sorts of things, so I know that it works . . .
Apparently, among the roughly two hundred digital cable channels we have, there is not one TV program about poetry or poets. I wonder why. There are radio shows that include poetry, like Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion.” There are websites, too— lots of them. And there are television channels for, seemingly, everything under the sun.
Some people might argue that C-SPAN’s Book TV is out there and serves that function . . . but as much I love books and writing, they show some of the most boring programming ever. Book TV is basically static footage of bookstore readings or panel discussions or sit-down interviews. That kind of thing is boring to watch in person, and it’s extremely boring to watch on TV! It’s like those Lannan Literary Series videos that are boring as hell, too.
Why aren’t there any poets or poetry on TV? Are there no TV producers who believe in its power to draw audiences, or is the poetry community resistant to being on TV? If people will watch a “reality” show about a hoarder’s house getting cleaned out, or worse if people will watch a show where a realtor leads around a house-hunting couple, for Lord’s sake wouldn’t they watch a show about poetry? I’m serious! Anyone who says a poetry TV show would be boring, I dare you to watch the Golf Channel.