Saturday, July 11, 2009

Self Portrait With Poetry Book

I was reading Victoria Chang's blog this morning and she mentioned the Newsweek article and if poetry reading is declining. She thought that yes it is.

If I am considering this in my own life, the answer is sadly, "Yes, I am reading less poetry than I was 5 years ago." Honestly, I think the early 2000's were a great year for poetry. I bought so many books and I was so excited about what I was reading.

Here are poets whose books I purchased who I fell in love with-- Beth Ann Fennelly, Jane Mead, Christine Garren, Olena Kalytiak Davis (her first book, not her 2nd), Katrina Vandenberg (Atlas), Martha Silano, Susan Rich. All these incredible poets.

Then Tupelo had a great run on poetry-- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Ilya Kaminsky, Patricia Fargnoli.

And then what happened? Did poetry change or did I change?

I kind of worry it was me.

You may have seen my posts asking (begging) for someone to share a new wonderful poet with me. But I haven't found him or her. Yet. I still have hope. But I want the book I drag around with me. I need that book.

I know some of the problem is I'm not a fan of a lot of the new work that is coming out. I know a lot of people love Ben Lerner, but I really did not get into his book. Someone told me I needed to hear him read before I'd love it. But I can't ask him into my home for a solo performance, so where does that leave me?

Then I told you about that terribly bad poet I discovered (with the name I wouldn't say) that had two books. Where did she come from and why was she published?

But there have been books this year (and poems) that I love. Where do I find them?

Crab Creek Review & Field publish my favorite poems (of course, I'm one of the editors at CCR, so I'm not surprised the poetry leans towards my taste.

Tracy K. Smith published DUENDE in the last couple years and I did love that book.

I didn't really love the C.D. Wright Rising, Falling, Hovering book even though I heard her read it and even though I bought it hoping to fall in love with it. But it went on to win awards and it was well crafted. So is it the books, or have I just become a finicky reader? I think I've become more finicky.

I did love Mary Jo Bang's ELEGY, but it was very hard to read because it was about the loss of her son. And Robert Hass's TIME AND MATERIALS was a satisfying read and is physically one of the most beautiful books I've seen with its red cover and birds.

Maybe I am reading a lot of good poetry, but unlike my younger self who would fall in love at the drop of a book, maybe my tastes have become a little more refined, or picky, or the poetry honeymoon period is over and I have to look at these lovers with their bad habits and ketchup stains on their shirts and see them as human and not as the gods I thought they once were.

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