Sunday, June 23, 2013

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:

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Poem Draft

Revere at 92 Degrees

Cops swirl the rotary like feral cats or cock-
roaches while in the beachhouse bathroom

someone is fucking someone or having it out
with their violent bowels at 10:30 AM.

If I were a horse I’d be split-hoofed but sedate,
a little out of my field lathered with ocean

spume the dirt of a thousand filled diapers
abandoned to sand or caught in kelp

washed up from Nahant or the Back Bay
or fuck--the Azores? England?

On the road opposite the beach cops stop
a latino kid on a skateboard (I don’t know

why it takes three cars) and send him off
in a different direction. My kids are yank-

ing at my shorts so we hit the beach sand
and broken bottles with the occasional

needle or nip bottle. It’s a grand public
place America’s first public beach.

A horse cop trots along the beach but
the horse leaves a sodden dump in

front of kids who have nothing to
do but play with it while their dark-

skinned mothers scream in three different
tongues to stop. The horse doesn’t seem to care.