Friday, 28 September 2007
Big Brouhaha at Poetry Society of America. . . and what it has to do with Seinfeld
But maybe he meant that developing nations have insufficient publishing infrastructures for.... oh never mind.
Well, now the president of the board of the PSA, William Louis-Dreyfus, has stepped down, too. No, not because he too is upset about what Hollander has perhaps suggested, but because he thinks the other board members are being a bunch of reactionary, McCarthyist crybabies. And yes, William is the father of Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who played Elaine on Seinfeld, and he also happens to be on Forbes' list of the wealthiest people in the world.
And that's when the name calling really begins. It's like Thurston Howell III, Daddy Warbucks, and Montgomery Burns having it out because someone made a snide remark at the Governor's Ball. Oh, the New York Times has the rest of the story....
UPDATE: Some interesting comments about this have been made over at Bookninja.
Wednesday, 26 September 2007
More on Muldoon and The New Yorker
So read what Potts has to say about things, and then when you get to the part that says (in reference to a cute story I wrote about back in March), "An even-handed account of this spat, pointing out the various vested interests on all sides, appears here," you can click back here for more of my unsolicited opinions.
Thursday, 20 September 2007
New Yorker may soon publish first decent poem in more than 20 years
But all that is, fingers crossed, about to change. Enter Paul Muldoon. He's been selected to replace Quinn as poetry editor, and one would hope he will be bringing the full force of his knowledge, wit and erudition with him to the job. The magazine's editor David Remnick, in a statement that can hardly be called surprising, is already trying to take the wind out of such optimistic sails. From the New York Times:
Mr. Remnick added that the selection of Mr. Muldoon, who had his first poem published when he was just 16, did not represent “some sort of radical aesthetic or theoretical shift.”My guess is that Remnick is just saying that to be nice. I hope so, at least.
He added, “It’s not as if we went from a structuralist to a post-structuralist or a Beat to a conservative.”
Read the whole story here.
Sunday, 16 September 2007
James Fenton wants more professionalism in poetry readings
I chose to quote this passage from the article because it's true, and it's a pet peeve of mine. I can't stand to hear actors reading other people's poems. That's because actors have a tendency to act poems rather than read them. Every time I have heard a professional actor read a poem, say, at an awards ceremony because the actual poet couldn't make it, the result has been a bombastic, Pollyanna massacre of the poem. If a poet can't make it, please don't bring in an actor to recite the work. There are probably any number of poets in the audience who can read the honouree's work just as well, if not better. Most likely better.
We do not, for instance, dramatise the emotional events of a poem as if they were unfolding before the eyes of the audience. We have written the poem. Now we are reading or reciting it. Something about our manner should never forget that we are in front of an audience, presenting something we have written. We may become emotional, but not to the extent of - say - slobbering and weeping and wiping our noses on our sleeves. We may be exuberant and spontaneous, but not to the point of spontaneous combustion.
Certain tricks of the radio actor's voice are forbidden to us - funny little gargling sounds or strictures of the windpipe, conventional ways of signalling that there's an emotional passage coming up. We don't like these vocal athletics anyway, when we hear actors reading poems, and we like it even less when we witness other poets moving in that direction.
And why not listen to James Fenton read his own work? Even if he tends to emphasize form over content when he reads, you might learn something.
Monday, 10 September 2007
Where are all the war poets?
Read the whole article in The Guardian.
There is at least one book of high-quality poetry about the Iraq war. Here, Bullet is a collection of 50 poems by an American soldier, Brian Turner, published by a small firm based in Maine, Alice James Books. It is populated by the dead and the near-dead, "the ghosts of American soldiers", the bodies of Iraqi policemen, the vultures overhead to whom one day might be offered "my life / a gift of heat and steam".
Turner served for seven years in the US Army, first in Bosnia, then in Iraq as a team leader with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. The poems in Here, Bullet, inspired by the latter experience, are steeped in pity for the occupants of Iraq, while at the same time remaining on full alert to the likely moment "when a twelve-year-old / rolls a grenade into the room". After a murderous market-place explosion, "Allah must wander in the crowd / as, I do, dazed ..."
Get more information about Brian Turner's Here, Bullet.
Click here to read some poems from the book. The title poem is especially wonderful.
Saturday, 8 September 2007
Where is Alden Nowlan's Collected Poems?
Madeleine L'Engle: 1918 -- 2007
New York Times
Wednesday, 5 September 2007
Sunday, 2 September 2007
Poetry and songwriting are different. Duh.
Sorry, kids. It needed to be said. Read the whole story here.
As a lover of poetry, I always feel a deep gloom sinking on to me at the approach of National Poetry Day. Oh god, I think. There's going to be a lot of press releases. There's going to be an attempt to make poetry relevant and fun, by making it less like poetry. There's going to be… oh god.
This year, it's Bob Dylan. Children at key stages three and four English are going to be instructed to study the great man's work with the aid of a special "Dylan Education Pack", issued in honour of National Poetry Day.
In my mind and the minds of most people who give serious attention to his work as a lyricist, Dylan is a genius. But he's a songwriter, not a poet. It doesn't elevate his work to call it poetry any more than it elevates an apple to call it an orange; nor does it give you a useful way of thinking about it academically.
Some rock and pop lyrics, Dylan's among them, work as poetry - live differently, but also well, on the page. You'd expect that. Poetry and song - as the two main rhythmic uses of language - have the same origins and much in common.
But that's not to say they're the same thing. We share an ancestor with the chimpanzee, and we both like bananas, but we're not the same creature.