Friday, May 25, 2007

DPP8 results

The results for week 8 of the Daily Poem Project are in, and once again the class and the bloggers have agreed: the winner for both is Eve's Awakening, by Reginald Shepherd.

13 bloggers voted, with Shepherd's poem receiving 5 votes, Corpus Hermeticum, by Eric Pankey, receiving 4, and O my pa-pa, by Bob Hicok, receiving 3.

13 votes were cast in class, where Shepherd was an easy winner, with 6 votes. Of the others, only Hicok's poem, with three, received more than one vote, and Pankey, so popular with the bloggers, did not get any votes in class.

There were some quite contradictory comments from the bloggers: several felt this was the weakest week yet, while others felt it was the strongest. I belonged to the latter group.

I was already on record as an admirer not only of Bob Hicok's work in general but of O my pa-pa in particular. When I first read it as part of the project, I thought it would be an easy decision for me this week, since I enjoyed it more than almost any poem in the rest of the project until now. But every day, another striking poem came along, and I had to read them all carefully several times to decide that I was indeed going to be vote for Hicok's poem, with Reginald Shepherd's a close second.

The comments on the call-for-votes post show, though, that this week generated a wide range of opinions:
Donald Brown:

If I were to title my comments it would be something like: Why I Do Not Read Poetry Mags. This is the worst week yet. Dismal, disheartening, even. For some reason I have the idea that a poem, whatever it may be about, is also "about" command of language. Doing something interesting with it. Also, that, whatever the subject matter, one avoids clichés, the predictable, the banal, and -- one tries to at least -- the bathetic and sentimental. Somewhere between my standards and those of Hallmark Cards resides the world of poetry magazines . . . and Poetry Daily.

This harangue is mainly against #50, Hickok, and #52, Grøndahl (the latter is a translation and that may be the problem, language-wise, but in terms of content it's clichéd treatment of a cliché -- gee, does that make it postmodern?; the former takes issue with all those awful "Dad" poems and then proceeds to write one as bad as one would expect, or worse).

Those are the worst offenders, but they manage to contaminate the rest. For instance, Dybek (#51, "Pan") -- clearly he knows how to write and work a line, but I'm underwhelmed by the paucity of imagination here, by something "school-teacherish" about it (yes, I know, most people who publish poems probably teach in some capacity, therein may lie the problem, but I won't go there).

The last four lines of Gallaher's dubya-bash say all that needs to be said, the rest, I guess, sets us up for it, but, "Now watch me make this shot" -- fish in a barrel, John, y'know? "Obit," Lehman's (#54) coulda been ok without that "hard-hitting" ending. Spare me a pundit's obit on the 20th century. Talk about belated! Are we done yet? No, #55, a Creation myth for the "new Eve"? Talk about 20th century! Zzzzz.

So, finally, my vote: #56, "Corpus Hermeticum" -- Eric Pankey. "A year, but only a day or two recalled, / And then only piecemeal: / a fallow field / Winter-dulled, a lean horse / Subsumed in fog". If it looks like a poem and sounds like a poem, it must be a poem! One for the week. Not great, but, hell, the thrice-great Hermes might not be utterly offended. And "a contingent cosmology" -- nice. I mean, what other kind of cosmology could there be, these days....

Anonymous said:

I vote for "Eve's Awakening" by R. Shepherd. If that poem wasn't included in the week's work, I would have abstained. Voice and rhythms are astounding in Shepherd's work, and the other poems sound so much weaker.

Bruno Navasky:

My vote is for Reginald Shepherd, although I laughed out loud eading Hicok's "O my pa-pa" and Gallaher's poem about the shrub.


My vote goes to Eric Pankey. "Corpus Hermeticum" is a poem on nature, on the difficulty of writing a nature poem, but also--as the title suggests--on the difficulty of reading and understanding poetry. Still, Pankey is not merely self-reflective, but evokes a powerful series of images.

Bruce Loebrich:

Here's my ranked list:

55. Eve's Awakening, by Reginald Shepherd
56. Corpus Hermeticum, by Eric Pankey
54. Obit, by David Lehman
53. The War President's Afternoon Tea, by John Gallaher
52. Selected Exercises in Case Law II, by Cathrine Grøndahl / tr. Roger Greenwald
50. O my pa-pa, by Bob Hicok
51. Pan , by Stuart Dybek

See the list of the winners from the first six weeks in the post with the results of week six. Week Seven results are here.

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