I’m sorry again for the delay. While it is true that I normally just don’t work very hard on Mondays, which enables my poetry habits, the past two weeks have, for some maddening reason, just seemed too dang busy! But enough about my personal woes, and on to my completely unfounded opinions about poetry.
No, wait… let’s let someone else speak. I had a brief exchange with Dalia Nassar last week, and she gave me permission to share her reflections in a cut-and-pasted version. Jennifer U. noted how influenced she was by Yezzi’s take–she thought she would have liked the poem, but found it fit too perfectly with the complaint he’d made about contemporary verse in general. I would say here that Dalia shares that basic outlook, but she’s just expanded on it a bit. By the way, both these long-time readers are currently residents of Australia–coincidence? Anyway, I’m curious to know how many readers feel the same. This take–the close reading and giving fair credit to the Yezzi position–is part of the process I wanted to engage in, so I thank you all for doing it for me. -ed
“Just a quick word on the Billy Collins: I actually really liked this one. I am not very familiar with his work, and am sometimes dissatisfied with contemporary for the same reasons that Yezzi points out, but found this to be a really nice poem; maybe it is not going to change my life, but it is perceptive, and has some really nice lines.
But that is not to say that Yezzi is completely off the mark. A couple of years ago, at a major Australian Poetry event in Sydney, I was often shocked by the blandness and mundaneness of some of the work: the most shocking of all were poems that read like grocery lists. And of course the way the poets read their work was especially disappointing: mundane, even bored–a voice that had little excitement for what it has to say, a voice that has nothing to hope for or fear.
But I don’t see that in this poem. Though I would like to add that while the Billy Collins poem is good, it loses something once he starts listing all the school names: here one sees something of the affable, but also quite mundane suburban voice. And in this he does seem to come very close to the voice I mentioned previously: the voice of the lister — it seems that poetry has become so much about “listing” rather than telling or revealing. So while I like the first 4 stanzas, I was less”