David Biespiel’s Poetry Wire: The New Poem


Every once in a while over a period of a few weeks or more I compile some objectives for poetry in the form of a list, something I call one-sentence lectures. Sometimes the list reflects what I wish I were writing, and other times what I wish I were reading.

I call my list “The New Poem” and typically it’ll detail my hope and sometimes even despair of poetry’s possibility. I suppose I write the list to tune out the noise and to reconnect to what I feel are some, but certainly not all, of the necessities of the task of writing poems, including considering poetry’s adequacies and inadequacies, its anguish and limits, its comic and tragic natures.

Here are 33 lectures on poetry. Please, I invite you, feel free to add your own one-sentence lectures about the future of the new poem in the comments section below.


The new poem will be a snapshot of eternity.

The new poem will be tethered to the minute.

The new poem will understand that the future will renounce it.

The new poem’s joys will be a result of recalibrating the past.

The new poem’s disappointments will be a result of expecting too much from the present.

The new poem will be a recognition of our wretchedness.

The new poem will be a recognition of our gratitude.

The new poem’s purification will be imaginary.

The new poem will be loved by readers who share the poet’s happiness and unhappiness.

The new poem will be loved less than other poems.

The new poem will be a sign of desire because without desire the new poem can’t include the imaginary.

The new poem will be a parade of the naked.

The new poem will be casually mortal.

The new poem will be a bell for those who come and those who do not come.

The new poem will be given to others to empty their lives into it or not.

The new poem will never leave its reader to face the perils alone.

The new poem will be both God and the devil.

The new poem will contemplate our limitations as the height of existence.

The new poem will embrace its readers as after a long absence.

The new poem will be an affliction to make us feel the possible.

The new poem will contradict the new poem.

The new poem’s affirmations will stand before a row of tanks.

The new poem will endure affliction as an illusion.

The new poem will dwell in names and in silence.

The new poem will fill the body of the imagination with sin.

The new poem will accept the death of the new poem.

The new poem will be punished.

The new poem will taste humiliation.

The new poem will offer forgiveness.

The new poem will know whether hunger is imaginary or real.

The new poem will not wish to change beauty.

The new poem will be a celebration of the success of language.

The new poem will solve life with life.

David Biespiel is a poet, literary critic, memoirist, and contributing writer at American Poetry Review, New Republic, New York Times, Poetry, Politico, The Rumpus, and Slate, among other publications. He is the author of numerous books, most recently The Education of a Young Poet, which was selected a Best Books for Writers by Poets & Writers, A Long High Whistle, which received the 2016 Oregon Book Award for General Nonfiction, and The Book of Men and Women, which was chosen for Best Books of the Year by the Poetry Foundation and received the 2011 Oregon Book Award for Poetry. More from this author →