Pandora's gift (1)
Is our conversation ending? The month's up, so, yes. A few quick replies and then one big slice of self-doubt, warily resolved, in the end, with the aid of frustrating software.
Jeffrey: speed chess is not playoff basketball because playoff basketball is a team sport and requires cooperation on offense and defense, whereas speed chess is one-on-one, right? but does poetry require cooperation? does criticism? or just an opponent? other than that, wow. I like Dupont Circle too, but I never got as much out of it as you did; I remember it most of all for Second Story Books.
Martin: I'm not sure I had ever heard of "The Age of Bronze," and now I've read it. What a strange, fast-moving, angry, topical poem. You can find it here. It turns out to be most famous, these days, for the explicit anti-Semitism near the end (not in the part Martin quoted, and not typical of the earlier Byron).
Amber: sure, but what you really want is Rachel Zucker's amazing and disorienting most recent book of poems, Museum of Accidents. Here's Maureen McLane's praise.
Rachel: I was still wondering whether I want my poems to be timeless or timely, which is why I never answered the question you asked, and then I realized that I have no control over it; if the poems are good enough, or good in the right ways, whatever seems timely will turn out to be important to the future because I wrote about it (but that almost never happens), and if the poems aren't good enough, or aren't good enough in the right ways, whatever seems timeless to the first or most sympathetic readers will seem dated or obsolete pretty fast. But really I want my poems to last as long as the very best work from Timely Comics, whose greatest achievements you might recognize under that company's more recent adopted name.
Daisy: good for you for taking the time to say exactly what you think about "The Change." I have nothing to add directly to the long, long discussion of that poem and whether or not it is racist, except to say that Hoagland has written much better poems; I do want to know what it says about the (cough) climate for poetry in the United States right now that the controversy over this poem (you can read lots of other responses now) has taken up more oxygen, attracted more attention, than probably anything else in the contemporary American poetry world this year? that "The Change" has had more ink spilled on it than any poem from the past ten years by [pick your favorite non-world-famous but often-admired poet: Kasischke, Armantrout, Muldoon, Rankine herself?]
Ada: "rejection box in the closet of your mind," yes. Cooper has written a few more poems like this one. You guys want to see more?
What did I have to say about software? I think that's another post.
Steph Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor. In 2012, the New York Times called Burt “one of the most influential poetry critics of his generation.” Burt grew up around Washington, DC and earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale. She has published three collections of poems: Belmont (2013), Parallel Play (2006), and...