Markstein and Brodsky's conversation at The Baffler:
Elizabeth Markstein: Are there trends, schools, in contemporary poetry?
Joseph Brodsky: I don’t really keep up. There are directions, I suppose. And they all smack of something unpleasant. If the piece is about, say, national pride, then it’s full of chauvinism or just general idiocy. If it’s something romantic, there is an agenda.
EM: Socialist realism?
JB: Exactly. Or, if it’s a satirical piece, it’s just plain negative. There is no sense that a person is engaged in satire from some high viewpoint. He stays within the imposed frame of reference. There are a handful of poets who could have gotten somewhere, but now it may be too late. They were not silenced, or shot, or even prosecuted. They more or less choked on lack of air, lack of an outlet. In any art, but especially in writing, you have to be totally possessed by it if you are to keep going in spite of any circumstances. Because sooner or later you are visited by the thought, “What on earth am I playing at? It’s just a pleasant hobby, really, one needs to make a living.” So you begin to look around, maybe compose a little play, a little script, sell it on the side. Become a hack. After all, hackwork is literature too. And the distinction isn’t that important in the end. So you can’t get published, so what. Chewing on the same negative emotion is exhausting. A sense of relativity sets in, and that’s really dangerous.