Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Nancy Flynn
Dear Editor,

As I wound my way through Eavan Boland’s “Islands Apart: A Notebook” [May 2008], in which she writes of the increasingly skill-based nature of poets, I was surprised to find this:

But there is always a fraction—even if it’s just a small minority—of poets out in the world who don’t want to do any of these things. If there’s a conversation, they’re having it with themselves, with their own poems. They don’t want to extend it, share it, structure it. They are private, inward, and disassociated from the skills on offer or in demand.

I am one of those poets. By some unexpected combination of good fortune, shrewd and fortuitous planning, and a willingness to live below the radar of the dominant US culture, I no longer have to sell my skills as a university administrator and publisher in the frenzy of today’s nine to five. Still, in daily conversations with myself and my poems, I often feel that there is something “wrong with me” because I don’t want to be out there, hawking my wares. I’m grateful to Eavan Boland for reminding the world that there is room for many voices (and styles of finding one’s way with words) underneath the poetry tent.

Portland, Oregon

Originally Published: October 23, 2008

Poetry is looking for thought-provoking responses to work published in the magazine, as well as letters that raise new questions about the state of contemporary poetry. To send us your letter, please fill out all the fields below.

If we choose to use your letter, we will notify you by phone. If you have not heard from us within two weeks of sending your letter, you may assume we will not be using it. All letters may be edited for length and clarity, and may appear online, in print, or both.

Please do NOT send poetry submissions to this account. See Submission Guidelines for further information and policies regarding poetry submissions.


* All fields are required


This prose originally appeared in the September 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2008

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.