No art has been denounced as often as poetry. It's even bemoaned by poets: I, too, dislike it, wrote Marianne Moore. Many more people agree they hate poetry, Ben Lerner writes, than can agree what poetry is. I, too, dislike it and have largely organized my life around it and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are inextricable in ways it is my purpose to explore.In this inventive and lucid essay, Lerner takes the hatred of poetry as the starting point of his defense of the art. He examines poetry's greatest haters (beginning with Plato's famous claim that an ideal city had no place for poets, who would only corrupt and mislead the young) and both its greatest and worst practitioners, providing inspired close readings of Keats, Dickinson, McGonagall, Whitman, and others. Throughout, he attempts to explain the noble failure at the heart of every truly great and truly horrible poem: the impulse to launch the experience of an individual into a timeless communal existence. In The Hatred of Poetry, Lerner has crafted an entertaining, personal, and entirely original examination of a vocation no less essential for being impossible.
Taking its name from the Roman goddess of wisdom and her companion bird, Owl of Minerva turns astonishingly precise attention to the physical world, scouring it for evidence of the spiritual as the poet travels through such places as Appalachia, New England, Venice, Spain, the Caribbean, and the American Midwest. Along the way, Pankey ponders mortality, religious narratives and iconography, the continued press of childhood on the present, and the simultaneous violence and beauty of the natural world.At the book's core are three ambitious poems titled "The Complete List of Everything," which together offer an extended vision of American longing and connection--as well as a window into the sort of compendium of images and moments a sustained devotion to poetry can yield. "The hope was to construct // A coherent totality of meaning from odds / And ends," Pankey writes, and so much of this book is about the difficult work of constructing meaning from the available material all around us. This book is an extraordinary example of lyric-meditative journaling--a large and profound collection by a brilliant poet writing at the height of his powers.
we are the boat / returning to dock / we are the footprints / on the northern trail / we are the iron / coloring the soil / we cannot / be erased
Winner of the inaugural Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, North American Stadiums is an assured debut collection about grace--the places we search for it, and the disjunction between what we seek and where we arrive."You were supposed to find God here / the signs said." In these poems, hinterlands demand our close attention; overlooked places of industry become sites for pilgrimage; and history large and small--of a city, of a family, of a shirt--is unearthed. Here is a factory emptying for the day, a snowy road just past border patrol, a baseball game at dusk. Mile signs point us toward Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Salt Lake City, Chicago. And god is not the God expected, but the still moment amid movement: a field "lit like the heart / of the night," black stars stitched to the yellow sweatshirts of men in a crowd. A map "bleached / pale by time and weather," North American Stadiums is a collection at once resolutely unsentimental yet deeply tender, illuminating the historical forces that shape the places we inhabit and how those places, in turn, shape us.
" Twichell's] poems generate the requisite heat with the poet's precise, original and frequently brilliant use of language. . . . A major voice in contemporary poetry." --Publishers Weekly
" Twichell's poems] track the inner movements of one life with an unexpected freshness." --The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly called Chase Twichell "a major voice in contemporary poetry," and this long overdue retrospective supports the claim. Selected from six award-winning books, this volume collects the best of Twichell's meditative and startling poems. A longtime student of Zen Buddhism, Twichell probes how the self changes over time and how the perception of self affects the history and meaning of our lives. Her poems exhibit a deep and urgent love of the natural world amidst ecological decimation, while also delving into childhood memories and the surprise and nourishment that come from radical shifts in perception.
What etiquette holds us back
from more intimate speech,
especially now, at the end of the world?
Can't we begin a conversation
here in the vestibule,
then gradually move it inside?
What holds us back
from saying things outright?
Chase Twichell is the author of six books of poetry and the best-selling writer's manual Practice of Poetry. She is the founding editor of Ausable Press and lives in rural New York with her husband, the novelist Russell Banks.
" Trethewey's poems] dig beneath the surface of history--personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago--to explore the human struggles that we all face." --James H. Billington, 13th Librarian of CongressLayering joy and urgent defiance--against physical and cultural erasure, against white supremacy whether intangible or graven in stone--Trethewey's work gives pedestal and witness to unsung icons. Monument, Trethewey's first retrospective, draws together verse that delineates the stories of working class African American women, a mixed-race prostitute, one of the first black Civil War regiments, mestizo and mulatto figures in Casta paintings, Gulf coast victims of Katrina. Through the collection, inlaid and inextricable, winds the poet's own family history of trauma and loss, resilience and love. In this setting, each section, each poem drawn from an "opus of classics both elegant and necessary,"* weaves and interlocks with those that come before and those that follow. As a whole, Monument casts new light on the trauma of our national wounds, our shared history. This is a poet's remarkable labor to source evidence, persistence, and strength from the past in order to change the very foundation of the vocabulary we use to speak about race, gender, and our collective future. *Academy of American Poets' chancellor Marilyn Nelson