Essay

Year in Review

Selected quotes from a year of journals and articles.

Poetryfoundation.org has been in existence for a year as of this February. The site has gone from about 10 visits a day to more than 17,000. Herewith, some quotes and statistics for your entertainment.

Top 10 viewed articles of the year:
1. Desire to Burn by Tim Appelo
Did Kurt Cobain die because he misread a poem?

2. Reading Guide: John Donne by Stephen Burt
"The Sun Rising" is so romantic it is almost hard to read.

3. The Ghost Inside by Sarah Manguso
A profile of Jack Gilbert.

4. Twenty-three Ways to Say I Love You by The Editors
Valentine’s Day selections from the poetryfoundation.org archive.

5. How To (and How Not To) Write Poetry by Wislawa Szymborska as translated by Clare Cavanagh
Advice for blocked writers and aspiring poets from a Nobel Prize winner’s newspaper column.

6. Reading Guide: Robert Browning by W.S. Di Piero
In the realm of the world-class talkers.

7. “When I Say The Word Home, I Almost Whisper It” by Cynthia Haven
Barbara Guest: 1920-2006.

8. Robert Hass Blew My Mind by Dan Chiasson, Rodney Jones, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Brenda Hillman, and Pimone Triplett
Five Poems.

9. Spiritual Poetry: Nine Gates by Jane Hirshfield
Twenty-two poems about spirituality and enlightenment.

10. Time Took My Leafy Hours Away by Cynthia Haven
Stanley Kunitz: 1905-2006.

Selected quotes from our year of Journals:
I hate hate speech, I hate hate speech so much I hate myself for hating it. I hate the haters of hate speech just as I hate the haters of haters of hate speech. I hate hate speech so much I even hate the words “hate speech,” and if I hate hate hate hate speech long enough, hate it with the hatingest kind of hatred, probably hate speech will go away. I’m sure of it.—William Logan

I get deeply suspicious of and impatient with those reviewers and critics who seem to speak with such authority of what is brilliant work. More often than not, they are bluffing. More often than not, they have not read enough to grant them that authority. More often than not, when they do attempt to justify their judgment, what emerges is so thin and so unconvincing that you wonder how they arrived at such an authoritative posture.—Kwame Dawes

We aren’t getting listened to and haven’t been, for a long time. I have to say, when I think about how useless protest has been, I feel a crawling under my skin that wants to out itself as violence. I want to pick up a rock. The violence that is the rule of the day is in me.—Catherine Wagner

I have always been uncomfortable describing what already exists. Existing things are just too hot, too self-radiant. My words get soft and gluey if I try to mold them into a facsimile of something. If I were a sculptor, it would be as if I were forced to work with clay that clung to my fingers instead of sticking to my projected dog sculpture.—Kay Ryan

Selected quotes from our year of cover stories:
“The Lowell Affair,” as it was called at the time, was an event so confounding, and so shameful for all its participants, it is no surprise that it has been nearly forgotten.—Carla Blumencranz on a red scare at Yaddo.

I think space and spaceships imply a world of immediate wish fulfillment. A kind of technological version of Peter Pan’s flight. And I wish I could articulate well for you how absolutely and deeply beautiful they are to my eyes.—Albert Goldbarth on why he collects robots and spaceships.

They write like people who have kept their eyes open and, as a result, have seen a lot of bad stuff. This is a grown-up point of view, the eye that sees loss everywhere. But unlike the rest of us grown-ups, who slip so easily into resignation, neither of these women has surrendered her rage.—Claire Dederer on Eleanor Lerman and Anne Winters.

The event passes the 100-minute mark. Paglia could go all night. Perhaps her vocal cords are coated with opium that’s released into her bloodstream through speaking. More people trickle out. A woman stands in the last row, doing yoga stretches.—Jeffrey McDaniel, on an interminable Camille Paglia lecture.

I’ve come to think of “The Unfortunate Lover,” alongside a handful of other Marvell poems, as recasting in elegantly rhymed and discordant words Andy Warhol’s “Death and Disaster” paintings: those astonishing orange, pink, blue, red, and lavender canvases of suicides, car crashes, race riots, and electric chairs.—Robert Polito on Andrew Marvell and Andy Warhol.

They are human, they represent the limitless way in which my imagination can and does engage with the world. I don't engage as an African. Nobody does. We all engage as individuals. I engage as Chris Abani. I am African so part of the filter of engagement will reflect those concerns or that experience, but then I am lots of other things which also affect the filter of my perception. Privileging any aspect of the filter over another is something I guard against. It is dangerous because it self-censors the imagination.—Chris Abani interviewed by Charles Mudede.

You really do need to think all the time about the people for whom you’re writing. I always preferred to write for an imaginary, quite bright and amusable person. When you start writing for people, you’d better not be condescending or you’ll lose.—Richard Wilbur interviewed by D.H. Tracy.

I can’t tell you how angry I get when I think about Silverstein writing this song, with his beard and his sandals and his Playboy contract.—Claire Dederer on Shel Silverstein’s “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan.”

Originally Published: March 1, 2007

COMMENTS (1)

On March 14, 2007 at 12:22pm Mary Lou Miller wrote:
I have found your website by chance. It is a treasure trove for the poetry lover. Thanks you so much!!

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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