Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Evan Jones
Dear Editor,

I enjoyed Durs Grünbein's essay, "The Poem and Its Secret," in your January issue. (At last, I thought, no mention of Pound anywhere!) But I'm concerned: are we to take from the piece that poets are masochistic? That is to say, is the urge to write poetry one of kicking against the air? I don't disagree, but do find it less optimistic than Grünbein seems to. Poets still have to live a daily life, even if they are renowned as liars and comparable more with the village idiot than the village wise man. Grünbein suggests there is some comfort in this, some wall of protection, but that is not entirely satisfying. The work of loners and dissidents is marginalized, sure, but I'm more of a mind with Octavio Paz, who wrote that "poetry occupies a place at once central and eccentric." Eccentric for reasons much the same as Grünbein's, but central because of those reasons too; poetry's need to criticize and subvert all it comes into contact with has left it few allies.

Manchester, England

Originally Published: October 27, 2008

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