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Friday, February 12, 2010

Poetry Friday--New American Poets

You're familiar with all the "old" American poets such as Robert Frost, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman, but can you name more than one or two "new" American poets?

A quick way to learn of 35 contemporary American writers is to borrow The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets [811.608 SWA] edited by David Yezzi.

J.D. McClatchy writes in the foreword,
...Elizabeth Bishop once recommended as the markers of a good poem: accuracy, spontaneity, and mystery. These are precisely the characteristics of the poems in this book. Accuracy is not literalism or pedantry; it is the ability to see and describe things as, at first glance or second thought, they truly are. Spontaneity is not improvisation or loafing; it is a fresh apprehension of the uneven textures of life. Mystery is not profundity or spirituality; it is the ability of a poem to clear space for what couldn't before have been anticipated, even by the poem iteself--the passing thought or startling image that makes a thrilled reader stop and wonder.
"...that makes a thrilled reader stop and wonder." Yes, that's what I'm always looking for, a poem that makes me stop my reading and look for someone nearby to grab and say, "look at this!"

Here's one with a killer last line that has the Mystery:
Clay and Flame

Nature . . . has mixed us of clay and flame, of brain and mind.
William James
Up from the mineral mud and ore,
from mildew and bacterium
and mold and thallophyte and spore
to fungus, rust and diatom;
from moss and fern and flowering seed
to coral, fluke and sponge, and from
flatworm and snail and centipede
to fish to swamp, until we come
to mouse, to monkey—to the brain
that grew in tandem with the thumb:
To tell exactly how we came
from clay is easy. But explain
the place inside the cranium
where all that clay turns into flame.
This poem, and several others, are also available on the Swallow Press webpage.

Check out this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up at www.LeeWind.org Lee's blog was voted "Best GLBT Review Blog" in 2009. Congratulations to Lee for providing a valuable service to sometimes clueless librarians, teachers, parents, the general population, and, of course, to our GLBT youth!

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