Below are various quotes from people on various sides of the Accessibility vs Difficulty Debate, a number of them taken from the sources cited in the bibliography separately posted. I’ve tried to represent common threads of the debate, as well as the sometimes heated and personal tone of the discussion.
Disclaimer: These are snippets, no more. In almost every case, the expanded views of the authors are more nuanced.
What is the purpose of literary criticism? Among other things, to guide the reader past his or her resistance. Most art, subtly or aggressively, resists the familiar. Poetry in particular suffers from this resistance, because poets take the material that we depend on to operate in and make sense of the world (language), and bend it to other, often seemingly obscure, purposes.”
Bill Knott (in response to Zapruder)
Let us, by all means, have a poetry of the most incandescent verbal pyrotechnics, of the most restlessly experimental and original design. Let us have poems that astonish the reader at every turn. Let our poets attend to making it new with nearly as much fervor as they attend to making it true. But on those occasions when we fail to communicate, let us no longer imagine we have succeeded at something larger and grander. Let us not blame our failures on the intellectual poverty of our readers, or on their inability to register complex ambiguities, or on their irritable reaching after fact…. Let us no longer be gulled into imagining that rhetorical sophistication and verbal panache in the absence of genuine, communicated perception can create a poetry that is genuinely complex, textured, multilayered, exploratory, intuitive and profoundly insightful, a poetry worth careful study. They create, rather, poems that are hardly worth reading through once. ”