Poetry News

After many a gruelling sleepover, O's poetry issue is finally here

By Harriet Staff

So yes, that issue of O magazine dedicated to poetry has finally come out and The New Yorker's Book Bench got its hands on a copy. It's a bit of a surprise that the Maria Shriver-edited issue doesn't feature any original poetry (except in one letter to the editor) as the world was breathlessly waiting for Mike Tyson and Ashton Kutcher to drop some knowledge on it. Instead, you'll find them alongside Sting, Bono, Matt Dillon, James Franco and a handful of other celebs talking about their favorite poets rather than delivering the goods themselves.

If you do want "original," though, you can bet that you won't find another poetry magazine featuring upcoming poets trying to maintain balance while standing in sand with a giant paintbrush wearing sparkly cardigans.

One of them, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, a Cave Canem Fellow whose second full-length collection of poetry “Mule & Pear” comes out this fall, told me that someone contacted her in December about modelling. The day of the shoot she was informed she’d be photographed as “the Romantic poet.” Her photograph shows her on a bed of sand with a large paint brush, pretending to paint the letters of her poem on an enormous wall. “I kept sliding around on sand,” she told me. “In fact there was a man nearby who did nothing but keep the sand looking good with a rake. In another corner a fan was blowing. A blowing fan with sand on the ground while you are encouraged to smile is interesting.”

If this whole thing seems like the result of toxic nail polish fumes and too many appletinis resulting in a newsstand-ready edition of Sexy Dead Poets and the City, well, allow O's publicist to play directly into stereotypes for you.

According to Lisa Israel, an O publicist, “Oprah and Maria Shriver had a sleepover, and talked about random things, as girls do” and the conversation turned to poetry and the influence it’s had on their lives.