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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Sorry, NC

The literary community of NC was outraged by an amateur poet being appointed as laureate. She quickly resigned before even really taking the post. But I wonder whether the pro who was laureate before is also not an amateur:

"Joan and I were in Raleigh together
for the first time to take the tour
for new vista volunteers
at North Carolina’s Central Prison..."

Ouch. It's fine to use seemingly plain language, etc... but no rhythm, nothing going on in the language. This kind of writing just causes physical pain to me. From my vantage point the other woman appointed carelessly by the governor is not much worse:

"I’m grateful for my car, he says,
voice raspy with hard living.
Tossed on the seat, a briefcase
covered with union stickers,
stuffed with unemployment forms,
want ads, old utility bills,
birth certificate, school application
papers for the skinny ten-year-old
sitting beside him who loves baseball..."

More is going on in her language, actually. It's not exactly good, but it's salvageable, with some concreteness there at least.

Sorry, NC.


5 comments:

clarissasblog.com said...

Both poems sound like they would get first prizes at a Soviet poetry competition. A lot of very earnest class consciousness and a profound aversion to poetic form.

Jonathan said...

I love that comment. That's exactly it. Note to the earnestness of dismissing one because she's not a professional poetry educator, etc...

Hermagoras said...

Bathanti is not great, and his rhythm is often a bit slack, but his poems are mostly much better than that little section. Examples:
Jesus Meets the Women

The City Jail

Migraine

Land of Amnesia

Jonathan said...

Sorry, the first requirement for a poet is a sense of language. You don't write "In the heart of downtown Pittsburgh." That's tourist manual or real estate language. It's dead Soviet poetry contest language. This person teaches poetry?

clarissasblog.com said...

" You don't write "In the heart of downtown Pittsburgh." That's tourist manual or real estate language."

- Hilarious. :-)))))