The inaugural poem is sucking up a lot of the oxygen in the poetry world for now, and with good reason. An inaugural poem is even rarer than the Olympics, and gives poets the chance to really get their gripe on. David Yezzi started a lot of the discussion with his piece on the Wall Street Journal Op-Ed page, which Al Filreis neatly dissects here. The Associated Press, not satisfied with the one Elizabeth Alexander will provide on Tuesday, asked other poets to try their hands at the task. Most declined, but Julia Alvarez’s take on “The Gift Outright,” the poem that Robert Frost recited when he couldn’t read the poem he’d composed for John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, is worth reading. Jim Fisher’s piece for Salon on the genre of the occasional poem is also an interesting read, as is Steven Fama’s inaugural poem. I think I’ll be glad when Alexander reads hers so we can move on to another topic of conversation.
The other subject occupying fair amount of blog-space is the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Unlike the inaugural poem, this one won’t be going away any time soon. Mary Weems uses the subject to also remember one of the more outspoken poets of the late 20th century, June Jordan, and the Lilliput Review reminds us that Robinson Jeffers was an anti-war poet, too.
There are other things going on in the world of poetry. K. Silem Mohammed talks at length about Flarf–if you’re unfamiliar about the debate, this is a good place to begin. With the economy still hovering, Wile E. Coyote style, over a chasm, poets are wondering how we’ll be able to keep ourselves in Ramen and Night Train. Dale Smith has a biting poem in absent magazine titled “Some Options for a Career in Poetry”, and Linh Dinh takes on power, money, and fame at detainees.
And finally, this piece is old, but I think it’s worth revisiting: The Seven Vices of Highly Creative People. Enjoy. And remember, if you see something (or write something) you think I could use in this feature, send it to me at briankspears-at-gmail-dot-com.