Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Alan Cohen

Dear Editor,

Brian Phillips suggests that very few people have written both successful prose and poetry [“Cocteau and Catfish: On Poets’ Fiction,” May 2009]. I am far from an expert in the field, but my own reading indicates that his accounting omits Robert Penn Warren, Robert Graves, and James Dickey. Dave Smith has written a fine novel called Onliness; Rilke wrote The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, and Donald Hall has produced an attractive collection of short stories called The Ideal Bakery. Anne Brontë wrote poetry, Conrad Aiken wrote fiction and poetry. Virginia Woolf is often said to have written poetic fiction; and Dow Mossman’s The Stones of Summer comes to mind in this context as well.

I think that many writers have always expressed themselves in both fiction and poetry. I agree with Phillips that many poets write worthy fiction. I would contend, however, that they always have.

clovis, california

Originally Published: September 1, 2009

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 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

September 2009

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.