Several times this week, in various places, the subject of the tinyness of the poetry world has arisen in a few different places, good or bad, and I have to call bullshit on that one..the poetry world, in general, is by no means small at all (look at the stats of MFA grads alone). I like to think of it as a bunch of different overlapping circles, different cadres of poets organized around presses, limags, reading series, geographic communities, with alot of cross-polination, some accepted/ part of/ chained to the mainstream po-biz world (ie, where the money and "prestige" is.) But usually, that's where the most corruption is, where the circle is the tightest and unyielding, and it's members not really interested in much outside it, thereby protecting their own exclusivity. These are the people, for the most part, at least the ones that yield power, who use smallness as an excuse for all sorts of heinousness (ie. awarding contests to one's freinds, etc.)Even if you consider the folks publishing in higher end journals, there's several different aesthetics, styles, and communities of poets represented. The discussion in the emerging class focused predominantly on the Verse/Fence crowd, since that was what was represented alot among the journals folks were bringing in. But even that, despite the ubiquity, is really just a fraction of the whole, even in the big leaugues.
It's not really about publishing your friends really, or even yourself that irks me (OBVIOUSLY), but a kind of myopia that puts oneself, and one's cicle, however falsely at the center of poetry as we know it, and using that as an excuse for all sorts of badness.