Skip to main content

One Good Response to Edmundson and that Harper's article (you know the one)


Dear Mark Edmundson,

I read your article, “Poetry Slam,” in the latest issue of Harper’sand I’d like to respond directly to your “slam” of contemporary poetry by offering the same audience an alternative perspective:
Using only brief fragments of single poems from only 9 living poets (including 1 Canadian, 1 Irish, and 1 actually dead)(endnote 1), Mark Edmundson lambasts the current state of American poetry. I think it’s important to bring to the attention of a larger readership the recent misdirected and lazy criticisms lavished upon contemporary poets that distract from the depth, diversity, and relevance of the work itself. Yes, some readers actually seek out and find poetry that is intellectually, emotionally, and relationally vital.
There are two basic cause/effect accusations in “Poetry Slam” that are worthwhile to dissect to show the dubious connections and terrifying implications:#1 Because contemporary American Poetry is too “hermetic,” “private,” “oblique,” “equivocal,” it consequently “has too few resources to take on consequential events”:#2 Because Contemporary American poets lack “ambition,” they do not “light up the world we hold in common,” i.e. they don’t reflect my own worldviews that make me feel like there is a singular “fundamental truth of human experience.”Unfortunately, what emerges in this article is a desire for singular type of poem. A poem that a) provides unique images that simultaneously relate to obvious cultural referents (“the TV show, the fashions, the Internet”), b) sublimates most poetic techniques to present direct arguments in the form of revelations c) that respond to “the events that began on September 11, 2001 and continue to this moment.” In sum, every poem should be a humanist poem of epiphany with blatant political/cultural references to post-9/11 living. Oh yes, this sounds like a great way to enliven all American poetry!

More:

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

David Oliver Cranmer

Not Just Another Playlist Often, I sit in my swivel chair looking out the window, while jazz, country, or rock music plays. This pleasure goes on for many hours a mystic trance of sorts streaming—the glue maintaining my soul. I turn the best songs into playlists (once we called them mix tapes) puzzling over the perfect order. Does Satchmo’s “What a Wonderful World” kick off my latest list or make it the big soulful closer? And does “Mack the Knife” go higher in the set than “Summertime?” That’s an Ella Fitzgerald duet! “Foolishness? No, it’s not” whether you are climbing a tree to count all the leaves or tapping to beats. These are the joys that bring inner peace and balance (to a cold universe) lifting spirits skyward. David Oliver Cranmer ’s poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared in publications such as Punk Noir Magazine , The Five-Two: Crime Poetry Weekly , Needle: A Magazine of Noir , LitReactor , Macmillan’s Criminal Element , and

Maureen O'Leary

Grief (for J’uan) Maybe we turn into clouds of reefer Particulates coating the lungs of the people thinking about us First and secondhand smoke Clinging to the frizzing gray locs of the women mourning us Or maybe we are in the splashes of Hennessey Swirling in the bottoms of Styrofoam cups A bad burn in the throats of our brothers Something to remember us by On the way back up. Maybe we are still here. In the way the candles keep going out In the way they call out to God. If they only looked up they could see our eyes Shining through the branches and glittering through the haze Below the stars. Maureen O'Leary lives in Sacramento, California. Her work appears in Coffin Bell Journal, Bandit Fiction, The Horror Zine, Ariadne Magazine, and Sycamore Review. She is a graduate of Ashland MFA.