Wednesday, March 26, 2008


My favorite poem in the March issue of Poetry is "Containment," by one of my favorite poets, A. E. Stallings. She so wonderfully balances the issue of balance, and so precisely captures the scene at the heart of her simile: "a face to match the scolding."

In the Q&A about his poems, Terrance Hayes hauntingly summarizes the skeptic's world view: "There are always questions sleeping next to any of my beliefs." He also quotes something that might help explain the frustration of Barack Obama's pastor: "Have you ever suffered political despair, despair at the organization of things?" Of his poems, I particularly enjoyed "Ode to Big Trend."

All the poets in the issue have such Q&A sections; in his, H.L. Hix addresses the real figures behind the unidentified people in his poems here: "from my point of view a reader will 'get' the poems not by identifying the speaker and the other characters but by identifying with them." Further, he adds, "I mean to invite each reader to hear his or her own emotional experience anew, through the emotional experience of this speaker." In other words, poetry is not about deciphering the hidden secrets of a text but about providing the basis for an emotional experience. To me, Hix leaves out something important: the controlling force of the poem in this experience. The poem is not a realm for the projection of the reader's experience; instead, it projects itself into the reader.

W. S. di Piero's "Johnny One Note" starts from Bobby Hutcherson, the jazz vibraphonist, and does startling things with the sound of the vibes.

The April issue is already online, which shows how long it took me, first, to get the issue in Switzerland, secondly, to read it, and thirdly, to finally post something about it! :-)

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