Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by George Young

Dear Editor,

I much appreciated your April issue of Poetry in which the poets attempted to explain their poems—very helpful for those of us who are not professional poets.  

I was particularly struck by how the style of the poem often paralleled the style of the explanation. For example, Rae Armantrout’s explanation of her poem, “Paragraph,” seemed as muddled and obscure as the poem itself. How could anyone possibly know who Lytle is? Isn’t this just solipsism? And her explanation that she put Lytle in the poem (out of all the names in the phone book) because it “sounds” so good seems lame.

I suppose this is one of those poems I should be responding to “bodily” (in your words) rather than “understanding.” And far be it from me to doubt someone who has spent her life writing poems “beautifully immune to meaning” (your words again). But I have a question: If I or Joe Blow had submitted this poem to you instead of Rae Armantrout (out of the 90,000 poems you get each year), would you have responded to it “bodily” and picked it out to publish?

Originally Published: June 1, 2010

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.

   Cancel

* All fields are required

MORE FROM THIS ISSUE

This prose originally appeared in the June 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2010

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.