The world boiled down to a drop

From a nice (if much too short) interview with the great new poet Vera [corrected] Pavlova: There’s a line in Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God that reads: “She didn’t realize she was the world and the heavens boiled down to a drop.” Your poems feel that way to me—tiny verses withContinue reading “The world boiled down to a drop”

Let Poetry Die (and be reborn again, outside academia)

So argues a New England poet: I love poetry. But as far as the public is concerned, poetry died with the modernists. No poets ever filled their shoes. And though there remain a number of minor masters and one hit wonders, few passing pedestrians could name a poet from the last 50 to 60 yearsContinue reading “Let Poetry Die (and be reborn again, outside academia)”

Only Russians can still write love poetry

So says, in effect, Vera Pavlova: Multiplying in a column M by F by Vera Pavlova Multiplying in a column M by F do we get one or two as a result? May the body stay glued to the soul, may the soul fear the body. Do I ask too much? I only wish   theContinue reading “Only Russians can still write love poetry”

Science and poetry: what they have in common

While confronting — on the page and in person — those who wield shotguns and bulldozers, John Kinsella in Poetry drops in a fascinating digression about what poetry and science have in common: The language of poetry, even in its most lyrical modes, is a language of specific usage—poetry is about arrangement, selection, and presentationContinue reading “Science and poetry: what they have in common”

Only in poetry can we really talk…

…about what the sense of being lost in life –useless — feels like. (And, by the way, it's not all bad.) Here's what I mean, from "Li Po" by Martha Ronk: There is the watery, uneasy feeling, that one has been there before, has encountered that reservoir of emotion, some other year, under one's fingertipsContinue reading “Only in poetry can we really talk…”

A Way to Live Through Time (what is poetry)

The summer issue of Poetry is truly spectacular, including many of the greatest American poets alive today (Hoagland, Hirschfield, Merwin) and some startling newcomers (including my former Antioch/MFA classmate Vanessa Place). But best of all may be an autobiography in poem, by John Koethe, which is not only unforgettable, but includes a simply great definitionContinue reading “A Way to Live Through Time (what is poetry)”

The Inexplicable Rightness of Good Poetry

How does Rae Armantrout write so eloquently without (exactly) making sense? Sky            god                       girl. Pick out the one that doesn’t belong. From a longer poem called Advent, in this month's Poetry. All great art has a mysteriousness, an inexplicable rightness, at which we can only marvel…

How Lovely Wetness Makes the Flesh

This holiday weekend some swimming may have happened. We all know how beautiful people can be emerging from the water, but it takes a poet to see the bigger picture… By Tennessee Williams, in the fall issue of Southwest Review. Written on the stationery of the Hotel Woodstock, the poem dates from 1939, when WilliamsContinue reading “How Lovely Wetness Makes the Flesh”

Landscape with Arson

Off to visit the Sespe, which is still badly scared from the epic Day Fire of four years back…which brings to mind a memorable new poem from Jennifer Grotz at the New England Review, via Poetry Daily: Landscape with Arson Have you ever watched a cigarette released from a driver's fingers swim through the nightContinue reading “Landscape with Arson”

Poetry at the Presidential Inauguration: A Bad Idea?

Seemingly the only way to be noticed as a poet in America today is to have an enormous personality, and then to go on and inflate it to a size suitable for mass media spectaculars. (I'm thinking of the likes of Allen Ginsberg or Patti Smith, both of whom — by the way — areContinue reading “Poetry at the Presidential Inauguration: A Bad Idea?”