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Arcoholic in the house

By Rachel Zucker

Hey Daisy, thanks your smart and thoughtful post. And for your other smart and thoughtful posts. I’m so pleased to be able to disagree or at least to announce a different tendency.

I like books. I like books of poems more than I like poems. I also like novels more than short stories. I like arc! I like to get to know someone, a voice, a style, a life, and have trouble with all the starting and stopping of short, single poems.

This was recently made even clearer to me when teaching The Gurlesque a new anthology by Arielle Greenberg and Lara Glenum. The anthology taught well and the introductory essays were really terrific. It was nice to be able to introduce these exciting and not very well-known poets to my students all at once. BUT, what was frustrating for me, personally, was the experience of reading these selected poems after having read so many of the full books the poems came from. This was especially true for me with Chelsey Minnis and Catherine Wagner, two poets I adore. I’d read all the poems in the anthology in the books they originally appeared in. The poems made sense on their own but lost (to my mind) quite a lot without their bookmates. Also, there were a few poets in the anthology whose books I hadn’t read before and some of them I really had trouble liking. I think a lot of this is that I needed to approach them in book form rather than as selected poems.

This isn’t a short coming of the anthology but is, rather, just another example of how I often have an easier time making sense of books of poems than of poems. Of course there are exceptions but a book meant to be read front to back, a book with a lot of “bookness” (if it’s good) is usually is my preference. I don’t think this comes into play for me when writing a poem, but it absolutely informs the way I organize my books.


Posted in Uncategorized on Monday, April 26th, 2010 by Rachel Zucker.