These sites usually talk about other things besides music These sites mainly talk about music
Blast from the past (a long entry)
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Digging around some CDs last night, I came across a burned data CD full of Word documents from a few years ago. One of the documents was a short piece I wrote for the literary magazine I used to edit. This piece is probably more interesting for those who like and follow poetry. As I'm starting to get back into writing and submitting, this blast from the past shows me that I still hold onto the same basic beliefs concerning the poetic arts.

Here is my short "Editor's Note" from Mind Purge in 1999.

The Calm at Century's Close

The poets I lean toward are accessible and free from academic anchors. However, let us not confuse the term accessible with the word simple. I do not believe that poetry has to be dumbed-down in order to be graspable and relevant to the general public.

Majorities of people, including the poetry-reading public, feel that poetry is work. They believe a poem has to have a set meaning, has to have something deeper than what is on the surface. To them, poems are an either/or situation. They fail to realize that poetry, specifically great poetry, is both an inward and outward experience.

There are many times I read a poem without an understanding of its core meaning. Still, that does not distract me from the beauty of the surface. Great poets create poems beautiful at all levels. Bad poets are ones who push you in the water like a bully, forcing you to fight your way through their setup.

We are now, at the century's close, at a bypass. It is a pleasant area where readers can experience the many schools of poetry with a single poet, sometimes within a single poem. The most remarkable poets today are not bullyish, but are not lax, either. They nudge, but never push. They tempt, but never coerce. They are as happy to have a poem "to be," as much as they are to have it "to mean."

This acknowledgment of the formal roots of poetry by the envelope-pushing poets and the recognition of free verse and experimental poetry by the traditionalists creates a peaceful tranquility.

But what happens after all have shaken hands and agreed to respect and learn from one another? Nothing happens. Nothing happens unless action is taken.

In the past few years, poets have banded together to promote poetry and its benefits. And this crusade has worked, I'm happy to report. But let us not become complacent in our success. If that happens, then we lose all that we have gained.

And this is a where we can learn a lesson from foreign poetry. A majority of foreign poets refuse to let themselves and their readers become comfortable. I believe that some American poets are happy in their sedative ways. Too bad these same poets are the ones in charge of what the public reads.

Thanks to the efforts of people such as Robert Pinsky and the adoption of a National Poetry Month, poetry is in an exciting time now. All schools of poetry have come together to promote poetry, and the playing field is pretty much even. But art is never static. After the changeover to a new century, there will be, there must be, a new wave of barrier-breaking poets to challenge the calmness of today's verse. This is a good thing, for poetry needs a constant shift of ideologies if it is to make an impression on the general public.

The following poets are, in my opinion, exciting and accessible on many levels. Some may not be "up-and-coming," but what they write about, and how they write, are great indicators of where poetry may be heading in the future.

A. E. Stallings

Stallings is a classical poet. Not classical in the sense of "out-dated, old farts, writing verse only their friends would understand," but classical in a sense of clean, well-written, accessible poems that acknowledge both formality and free verse. If we must label, then she would be called an "Expansive poet." Reading her poems, one gains an understanding that Stallings knows her craft well, and that she knows exactly what she wants to say to a reader. She never belittles the reader with erudite terms; however, she never lowers herself to commonality. She reminds us about choice and its many branches of conclusion.

Ryan G. Van Cleave

Van Cleave is wonderful at writing about the nuances of life. Many times, he amazes me with the surface tensions in his poetry. What we can experience from his verse is the universal feeling of want, need, and acceptance. His subjects say, "I may be a (insert adjective here) person, but I need you to accept me." Van Cleave mainly writes in free verse with a conversational tone, which brings the reader closer to the subject at hand. It is this closeness that Van Cleave wants a reader to experience.

Wayne Hogan

Hogan surveys life in a way that Charles Simic does. Sometimes his verse is light, sometimes experimental, but never boring. Hogan will play with words and lines in a poem, challenging the reader to keep up. But ultimately, he wants the reader to relax, and let the poem, through a slanted eye, show life. When he is not stretching the limits of a poem or the reader, his verse tends to be calm, authoritative, and objective. Hogan is like a documentary filmmaker whose subjects sometimes call for a fun presentation and sometimes for unobtrusive documenting.

Christopher Brisson

Brisson is a poet who likes to mix pop culture, childhood memories, and fantasy into a mixed stew of verse. His writing is important in that it shows us how much pop culture actually influences our life and how much we acknowledge it. His insight on the subject of influence is fresh, funny, and thought inspiring.

Isabel Nathaniel

Nathaniel's poems are powerful because of the calm and unobtrusive way she lets her reader discover elements and ideas. Her verse can be described as graceful, confident, and autobiographical, but not confessional. She urges the reader to see life and beauty in all situations.

Tony Hoagland

Hoagland brings spice to poetry by cleverly writing about the complexities of life and how mankind handles them. Much like Christopher Brisson, he draws on pop culture around him, showing us the benefits of loss, and sometimes the curse of triumph.

Ron Koertge

Using humor to lure you in, Koertge will then wallop you with verse that is powerful and honest. The various images he uses to convey his ideas about humanity, in all its forms, can be both fantastical and ordinary. With a great eye for the hidden in all, Koertge guides the reader to look into something and observe what is essentially a beautiful, funny thing.

Dionisio D. Martinez

With intelligent verse, Martinez chronicles the subjects of alienation and cultural identity. He is aware of history, and he uses the past as a way to understand what is happening now. Martinez's unique voice is no less universal in that all have at one time sensed separation from the world around them and tried to understand the feeling, sometimes failing.

Jack Myers

Like Dionisio D. Martinez, Myers' is concerned with the past, and like Koertge, he uses humor to draw the reader into the poem. Some general themes of his are the return to childhood, fear of old age, knowing too much, and simplicity. He knows what he wants to say, and when to quit saying it. Sometimes, he can be surreal, but often his poetry is straightforward.

Hugh Steinberg

Though I have only read a few poems of his in various publications, I find myself impressed with his unique voice and images. From what I have read, he appears to be another poet who is trying to identify the present by defining the past. He is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the future.
posted by pimplomat @ 2:24 PM  
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