In retrospect, seeing that the genre has been expanded so far that even a prose article from the morning newspaper, may be considered poetry (by some), or a piece by John Cage that employs one word per line while doing tricks with the constituent letters of the alphabet, it seems fair to say that the “poetic” is probably not likely to be found “in texts not immediately recognizable as poetry." The idea has run its course.
Perloff reviews Lyric Poetry: Beyond New Criticism (1985), a compilation of essays by various hands. She quotes Annabel Patterson, “The modernist view of lyric as an intense, imaginative form of self-expression or self-consciousness, the most private of all genres, is, of course, a belief derived from Romanticism” and adds:
The genre continues to be defined normatively—it is this situation that bedevils current discourse about poetry. For nowhere in Lyric Poetry do we find discussion of the following questions: (1) Is “lyric” merely another word for “poetry,” as the interchangeable use of the word in the collection would suggest? If so, why talk about “lyric poetry”; if not, what other kinds of poetry are there and what is their relationship to lyric? (2) How has lyric poetry changed over the centuries? Is it meaningful to talk of Ben Jonson’s project in the same terms that we talk of, say, Stevens’s or Pound’s? How and why is lyric more prominent in some periods than in ours? And (3) since the etymology of the word lyric points to its musical derivation, what does it mean to write of lyric poetry as if the sound structure were wholly irrelevant, a mere externality. What, for example, does the choice of a particular meter mean? Or the choice of a particular set of linguistic strategies?
Polonius, again, is creating some rubric entitled “Symbolist.” This is a useful shorthand to define trends; but when you examine in detail you have only individual poets writing individual poems. The “movement” —whether retrospectively designated and named externally, or contemporaneously proclaimed as a political statement—is an artificial construction. The rubric looks good in the textbook; the reality belies it.
As to the types of poetry, tradition has more or less determined three: epic, dramatic, and lyric. Full stop. Other genres may be said to have been called into being— “concrete poetry,” “conceptual poetry,” and so forth. “Poetry” is an appropriate (and usable) designation; but in a certain sense they resemble poetry as McDonalds’ pre-fab hamburgers resemble food.
For the practitioner, a loose definition suffices; it is not worth the bother and balderdash. If my terms seem exclusionary, and it means throwing E.E. Cummings’ grasshopper under the bus, so be it. It is a hard call; but neither he, nor anyone else, nor his work, is harmed by it.
Incidentally, one reads of a “group of poets” denouncing Perloff—the nature of the denunciation hard to comprehend, possibly stemming from a belief that her theory is incorrect(?) —by hurling epithets and slogans. Anonymously even (and all unnecessary). If they are poets, where is the poetry?