poems, mostly metrical, and rants and raves on poets, poetry, and the po-biz (with 8-string stuff)
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Posts from — February 2010

Lunch With William Logan

Or rather, lunch reading his reviews of poetry at The New Criterion, and I was struck by this passage, from his discussion of Charles Bukowski’s 479th posthumous book:

A literary culture needs its Bukowskis, if the language is to be freshened and sustained. Without some sense of the rhythm and consequence of speech, poetry becomes an antiquarian exercise.

That’s almost exactly right, if one allows “antiquarian” to encompass the avant garde, or at least that part of it still chasing theory.

And one more thing—though I did write a favorable review of one of the other posthumous books, Come On In, I hope it’s not just the Bukowskis, but also at least a few sonneteers, who can give poetry a “sense of the rhythm and consequence of speech.”

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February 26, 2010   No Comments

After Long Silence

I don’t have much to say, but I think that’s because I’ve been silent. Not writing is not the way to get writing done.

Poetry, of course, goes on its merry way with or without me—via Arts & Letter Daily comes a piece which The Chronicle of Higher Education deigns to let non-academics read (have I mentioned just how despicable I find the access policies of JSTOR and Project MUSE?), “The New Math of Poetry”, which estimates that 100,000 poems will be published this year in English-language literary journals alone. Hey, if The Writer counts as a “literary journal”, 0.001% of them are mine already!

But even though very few people will read any significant portion of those 100,000 poems, people do still talk about poetry, often in surprising contexts. Scientific American, for instance, in an article on the enteric nervous system, has this:

“The second brain doesn’t help with the great thought processes…religion, philosophy and poetry is left to the brain in the head,” says Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at New York–Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, an expert in the nascent field of neurogastroenterology and author of the 1998 book The Second Brain (HarperCollins).

See? Poetry gets some respect. And even the technical stuff shows up in odd places: here is Joshua David Stein reporting on the Winter Olympics in Salon (you’ll need to click on “Continue Reading” at the bottom):

If the Ski Jump is the haiku of the games, the compulsory ice dance is a villanelle, a sport corseted so tightly with rules and regulations that the gasps of creativity are remanded to grow through the cracks.

I personally find villanelles rather useful machines for forcing me out of my mannerisms, and I think I’ll write one this week.

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February 24, 2010   4 Comments