Poetry News

Six Reviews for the Price of One: HuffPo on Dawn McGuire, Jorie Graham, Michael Ryan, and More…

By Harriet Staff

Setting aside the question of whether politics has something worthwhile to say about poetry, Carol Muske-Dukes at the Huffington Post posits that poets have something worthwhile to say about politics. Inspired by a letter composed by President Obama during his grad-school years, Muske-Durkes surveys six recent books, placing them within the context of “conservative” and “dark” or “liberal” and “progressive good.” Jorie Graham falls into the latter category:

Post-modern, post-structuralist, philosophical and beyond -- towards a stance of "simply writing poems," Graham asks us to witness the discovery of the world in words, witness her implacable belief that in words we create human experience.

Later, Muske-Dukes dubs Dana Gioia's new book, Pity The Beautiful,“dark.”

The title (and title poem) are satiric pleas for compassion for those who have briefly shone in the bright gaze of the gods of good fortune -- once young and beautiful, once star-like, but now burnt out and irrelevant. The tricky cruel witness is mitigated finally by what seems a sly empathy -- in the knowledge that we all "come to dust."

The further knowledge gleaming in these stark and straightforward poems is a "fallen" awareness (as per Eliot). The narrator's voice in the poems is the voice of one "familiar with the night," its tone drawn from the dark bravado of bitterness and loss.

What does all this have to do with Obama’s political stance? Check out the full article here.

Originally Published: June 26th, 2012