At the Juniper Summer Writing Institute, a group of us poets decided to challenge each other with writing prompts for the rest of the summer. I’m going to include the prompts and my responses here on the blog, and I invite you to play along. Continue reading “Poem Challenge #1”
In that post, I mentioned that Pattiann Rogers expands Stevens’ ideas in her essay “Cosmology and the Soul’s Habitation”; however, although her ideas line up and extend Stevens’, she does not specifically mention his name. Perhaps Stevens’ theory has become so ingrained as to be an accepted part of the modern condition of humanity; in Rogers’ words, a piece of our contemporary cosmology.
Seventy years ago, I addressed the pressure
History applies to creativity and society,
Let us say, news more pretentious than
Any description of it, but that pressure
As Part of a class in my MFA program titled Literature for Writers, Professor Janet Peery asked for a final project interrogating our semester-long study of our choice of writer. At the beginning of the seminar, I chose Wallace Stevens as a poet I should probably know more about, as my encounters with him have been few and far between.
After attempting several different projects, including a couple of essays, I decided to go a little more playful: bring Stevens into contemporary America and see what happens. The posts included under this category are the results.
Many of the readers who end up at this blog do so by searching Google with the phrase “idealism in poetry” or something similar. While I think the overall contents of the blog offer my thoughts on the topic, I am sure that many of these searchers are looking for research for their undergraduate or high school papers. This post will offer some reflection on the concept in general, but I would like to also point them toward the recently updated “plagiarism note” in the right column. Your teacher/professor will recognize a voice other than yours, and drop text into Google to figure out where it came from. Then you will fail the paper, if not the course. Be forewarned.
Richard Hugo continues the sentence in one of the most powerful essays of The Triggering Town by writing, “but it would be honest and I would like it because it wouldn’t be any tougher than the human heart needs to be” (96). “Ci Vediamo” barely resembles other essays in the collection, with very little direct advice, but instead reflects on Hugo’s return to the little Italian town where he was stationed in WWII. Despite not directly conveying advice to writers, Hugo imbues the essay with a well-modulated experience which brings the reader to tears with the author at the end. This control of modulation offers enough to study in itself, though this response is not the appropriate place. Instead, this essay will examine the way “Ci Vediamo” and other essays in Hugo’s collection urge the reader toward an honesty and openness which leads to better poems.
This Poem for My Wife
Thanks for reading this, everyone. I’ve taken it down for revision, and because I’m thinking about sending it out after that. I hope you enjoyed!
Oliver de la Paz’s collection, Requiem for the Orchard, relies on two organizing threads throughout. Those are the “Requiem” poems, which originally appeared as one extended poem in Guernica Magazine, and the “Self-Portrait” poems which appeared in various places. De la Paz confronts the construction and obfuscation of identity and self through these two threads of interrogation, and it is important that the collection resolves with the two threads together. Continue reading “Reflection on Oliver de la Paz’s Requiem for the Orchard”
How does one write poetry about grief, or heartache? Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” and “Kaddish” might be one approach, but it is a rare poet who can operate in the verse-libre and still convey the absolute misery without devolving into melodrama. Many poets resort to form, which forces a constraint upon poems. In the case of Ashley Anna McHugh, the constraint of form has allowed her to explore loss in great detail. Continue reading “Reflection on Into These Knots”