Granted my affliction does not in any way parallel the gravity of close friends who aren’t so much battling but, as Christopher Hitchens put it, being battled by cancer, and fatally, I fear, but my affliction, by contrast, my woe, is, to be perfectly honest, more like a pain in the ass....more
Posts Tagged: David Biespiel’s Poetry Wire
Earlier this week, while speaking to some younger poets, I became intrigued with their nascent fascination, to the point of headiness, with all things poetically elliptical, non-linear, and disjunctive. I say intrigued, but in my heart it felt more like exasperated....more
New book reports postmodernists forced to write in rhyme and meter
Exposing widespread abuses faced by beginning poets writing in postmodern verses, a new book titled “Between the Lines,” revealed that poets who write post-experimental poetry are forced by their betters to write, sometimes as often as fifteen times a day, completely in rhyme and meter....more
Not that one needs an excuse such as the imminent threat of nuclear armageddon to read poetry, but the early 1960s might have been a good time to turn to poems for comfort, insight, solace, and understanding about the disposition of human beings to threaten their own existence....more
There comes a time in the process of writing a poem when you find yourself putting the reader’s interests and desires ahead of your own as the poet. Not that the reader is a potted plant, I mean. Because the reader is sometimes hostile, other times skeptical, and still other times easily moved, or hopeful, or open, or predisposed, willing to be carried forth....more
A flurry of last-minute phone calls, philippics, tweets, and Facebook posts by poets and critics late last night failed to break a bitter standoff over the latest poetry-is-dead attacks, setting in motion the first poetry shutdown in the history of American poetry....more
As with the myth of America, America’s poets believe a poem should go from rags to riches. And yet, why so much surprise when it actually happens?
There is more to American poetry than its genial and hospitable prairie lands. And yet the poetry of its postmodern coasts all too often acts like an immigrant who is naive about the nation’s enigmas and repugnances....more
Every since I wrote this weekend with the news that I’m stepping down, after 11 years, as a columnist on poetry for my local paper, I’ve received some very nice farewells. I mean, very nice. One woman wrote me to say she had read and kept each and every one of the pieces in binders marked On Poetry....more
We live in a world where whenever the discussion turns to humanitarian assistance or military intervention what is meant by that is American assistance and American intervention.
There are good reasons for this fact. It was the United States that pushed for the creation of the United Nations in 1945 and then insisted on becoming the organization’s host....more
I mean, his [Heaney's] verse is under my skin. His verbs are inside my veins. His metaphors are in my nervous system. His moral clarity is a light inside my own, shall we say, republic of conscience....more
Mark Edmundson’s take down of contemporary American poetry, “Poetry Slam,” (currently behind the paywall) in this month’s issue of Harper’s, is not so bad really. He’s right about the insularity of the American poetic idiom, the stranglehold of deconstructive theory on the imaginations of younger American poets, the influence of William Wordsworth for two hundred years on American poetry’s sense of ambition as a private rather than public art, the proliferation of teaching the writing of poetry and therefore the difficulty in discerning what might be the, quote-unquote, poetry of the age — notwithstanding that we will never know who those poets are or what those poems are for certain until the age is over....more
The debate about political poetry in the United States sometimes has an arid feel to it. Essential, yes. But fatally so? Not very often.
But poets caught up in violent political events are brethren. I believe it is essential for fellow poets to honor their struggle....more
“The old South Boston Aquarium stands / in a Sahara of snow now,” begins Robert Lowell’s masterpiece, “For the Union Dead,” a poem about race and class in Boston. To my mind, it’s one of the great American poems of the 20th century....more
No one can know for sure what literary historians will make of it, least of all me as I pound out an editorial about poetry every week. But if I were a betting man, I would wager that the most significant literary event this month is not going to be the Poetry Foundation’s splashy new anthologies for school teachers....more
“The subcommittee’s bill breaks the promise that this country has made to poets”...more
Yesterday was the 56th anniversary of the day that U.S. customs agents seized some 500 copies of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl on the grounds of obscenity. Yesterday and today, the Supreme Court of the United States heard two cases regarding marriage. The first one yesterday, regarding California Proposition 8, addressed the right to marry the person you love....more
I’ve never much gone in for shoot ‘em up movies. I’ve never seen Terminator, other than the most famous clip (“I’ll be back”). I can’t stomach Quentin Tarantino movies or, his precursor, Sam Peckinpah. I went to see No Country for Old Men because my 17-year-old son kept taunting me that I couldn’t consider myself an educated person if I didn’t, and I was worried he might be right....more
About to board a flight from Portland to New York, about to meet with the jury that’s been convening for 12 months by e-mail, Skype, and face to face meeting, to select a recipient from the five finalists for the National Book Critics Circle Award....more
45 years ago was a barricaded, world-rocking year. Both in politics and in poetry.
Between January and the end of March came the beginning of both the Prague Spring and the Tet Offensive. North Korea seized the USS Pueblo and student protests broke out in Poland....more
Up most all of last night with some kind of malady contaminated by insomnia, my mind began to drift as a means to stem the anguish. What follows, fair warning, has little symmetry or reason and more, it seems now looking it over, a disproportion of the delirium....more
Read poetry, what else? That’s the greatest military maneuver in the ‘Poetry Is Dead’ war, isn’t it? It’s where the odds are longest, the risk greatest, kind of like Lee at Chancellorsville....more
Kelly Clarkson’s Inaugural Song Means the Death of Country Music
Inaugural country singer Kelly Clarkson said that her story is America’s story.
If that’s the case, America should be slightly concerned. Ms. Clarkson is a walking example of the American dream — as she eloquently puts it, “the American story is in many ways my story — I even played Brenda Lee in a TV show called “American Dreams.’”
She has overcome numerous obstacles, struggled against opposition both internal and external — in order to excel in country western singing, a field that may very well be obsolete....more
A funny thing happened on the way to President Obama’s second inauguration Monday. The president’s speech and Richard Blanco’s poem got reversed.
Broadly speaking, one’s expectations of political rhetoric is that, at its worst, it reduces complex argument to slogans and platitudes or, at its best, that it singles out constituencies and individual citizens in order to focus on the day-to-day concerns that society can address....more
About eight or nine years ago I caught a ride from Northampton, Massachusetts to New York City with the poet Matthew Rohrer. We’d given a reading a few nights earlier with a third poet, Talvikki Ansel, at the Broadside Bookshop. Traveling with us was my son, Lucas, then around 12 years old....more
As of today the question of whether President Barack Obama or former Governor Mitt Romney won the Cuban vote in Florida, traditionally a solid Republican bloc, remains in dispute. Back in early November exit polls had the president with 51%. If accurate, that was a major surprise and a major breakthrough....more