Old Moon

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pleasant Surprise

One should revisit places that have published one's work. I just went to Lowestoft Chronicle where a poem was published early in the year. There is a notice that the poem is in the print anthology they put out each year, and that was chosen as "Best of the Net Anthology" by Sundress Press (if I have read the news note correctly).  Made my day!

Monday, December 19, 2011


Like many "seniors" I find myself rereading, or reading for the first time, old books. The artistry of what is mostly in the past can cause real emotional quakes in my now admittedly somewhat unsound foundations. I recently commented on what appears to be the fashion for showing readers the seamy, unattractive, amoral, callous sides of life. The more I see of this, and the more I turn to older fashions in fiction, the more I think the new (if not young) writers should have some intestinal fortitude--enough to dare to transport their readers. Or is something we were brought up to admire now considered unworthy? Are tenderness, a response to tragedy, an appreciation of poetic irony, a real sense of joy no longer admissible in
intellectual society?

Come on, all you writers! /show us Life; make  us weep and laugh out loud. Teach us empathy! HAVE SOME GUTS!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Trying Not to Be a Cynic (Honestly!)

Thanks to the Internet, almost every day I find some evidence of how writers continue to bud and often blossom in an education landscape that seems to be less and less fertile every year. It isn't just the attachments to emails proving how much more a fifth grader knew in 1890 than a college graduate does today, though they are frightening. Of course, with the body of knowledge growing exponentially month by month (where once it grew year by year), I do understand part of the problem. As a one-time English teacher, I've had to learn not to get hysterical over the incredible sloppiness of diction, syntax, and punctuation even in respected places where someone should know better (i.e. "diffuse" on MSN to describe what was being done with unexploded ordnance found on the bottom of the Rhine).

Reading contemporary poetry so often humbles and delights simultaneously. I bought a subscription to Poetry. The 12th issue has just arrived. I find that as I look at most issues, probably 80% of the poems, I'm as clueless as if they had been written in Sanskrit.

It's embarrassing. I actually buy books of poetry that mean something even on the first reading; many are by prize-winning poets; all are younger than I; all articulate and describe ideas and things in ways that provide a reader with something valuable and pleasurable to add to life's lessons.

That set me wondering about the impulse to produce a poem that is so utterly opaque as so many in the most prestigious journals. It also made me wonder how a poet manages to learn what it takes to accomplish a feat like that. Furthermore, how (if as such) poetry is taught today, especially at the secondary level. Finally, I'm speechless with admiration for the editors who can evaluate such work.

Along came a kind of corollary question: could it be that there is a fraudulent wing of the little magazine establishment to go along with the gradually emerging realization that so much  contemporary "art" has become exercises in self-promotion and behind-the-hand titters to make big money? Of course, there's no big money in poetry, but a big enough ego is doubtless happy with admiration coming from the right quarters.

The idea that an artist may have to educate his audience isn't new to me. To an extent, I agree with it. However, it seems to be a scam to appeal either to an audience too foolish to know it's being "had," or to one that has to be part of some kind of exclusive society of those who are in on the secret.

Maybe some reader of this complaint will help to explain this to me.

Finally, to go back to the first sentence, I get my consolation from the really impressive (accessible) poems that so many younger and just plain young poets are producing. Not only do they give pleasure and insight to a reader, they provide the hope that all is not lost when it comes to education and the arts in America.