The Daily…ish

Poetry and Miscellany

  • Poem

    Men say they know many things;
    But lo! they have taken wings—
    The arts and sciences,
    And a thousand appliances;
    The wind that blows
    Is all that any body knows.

    ~ Henry David Thoreau

    (in context)

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Posted by Matthew on June 3, 2008

If you were around for this blog’s previous life, you’ll know that I have not, to date, developed a strong liking for contemporary poetry. What I now realize is that that’s not a good thing, not so much because I should like it–we are all possessors of unique tastes–but because it means I haven’t given contemporary poetry much of a chance (translation: I haven’t read nearly as much of it as I should). And that’s a shame.

In that light, today’s poems are as contemporary as they come, from the current issue of Avatar Review. I come by this via the blog of Nic Sebastian (one of today’s poets), Very Like a Whale. Nic’s poetry, by the way, is lovely, in a sometimes dark, sometimes light, always visceral way, and you should definitely follow her blog.

Some linkage, then:

I see nothing in these three poems that blows me away (after all, such poems only come along once in a great while), but they are all very solid, well-crafted poems I would proudly call my own (and I kind of wish I could, to be honest). I’m partial to The Sorrowful Tale…, with its dark & twisted ending, I must admit, but I enjoy them all.

I’m at work, so I don’t have time to go all English-major on these, but if you’ve got thoughts, let’s hear ’em. And do tell me if the audio recordings do anything for you; can’t listen myself just now, but I hope to soon.

Question of the moment

What exactly is contemporary poetry, and where is it going?



One Response to “Up-Contempo”

  1. Lindsay said

    OK, I read these poems and perused the Avatar Review. I agree that a lot of contemporary poetry is crap. Case in point, Billy Collins, who somehow is still getting published rigorously even though his poetry is extremely superficial and not what I would call “smart”.

    I think that a lot of newer poetry tends to be less than stellar for two reasons. One is post-post-modernism. We’re in an age where everything has been so fragmented and been rendered so meaningless that poets [and anybody, for that matter] are allowed to get away with writing that’s fragmented, unclear, heady, and generally strange. The other reason is that people en mass are not as poetry literate as they may have been in the past, and simple, accessible poetry now is revered simply because the average Joe on the street can understand it.

    I realize that these two points are really at a start contrast to each other, but I see a movement in both directions [the poems on Avatar leaning toward simple and accessible].

    If you want to read some good contemporary poetry, pick up Linda Gregorson, Franz Wright, Henri Cole or anyone published by Boa Editions [in Rochester]. I know there are others, but I can’t think of them now.

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