Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Post Confessional Poetry? Confessional?

I've been wondering a lot about confessional poetry and its place in the poetry scene right now. On the one hand, poets like Sharon Olds and Tony Hoagland, to mention a few, used seemingly autobiographical elements in their poems all the time. People still like "life stories" and the closeness to the writer that these poems create. But, there seems to be a reaction, especially in snide comments by journal editors, that this type of poetry is on the outs. Too much stuff about abuse, cancer experiences, etc. In this case, purely experimental poetry, often much of it more like a hard puzzle than a pleasurable experience, is promoted instead. I've been writing some poems about family lately, and I wonder if they're just too familiar, stuff people have already done. I guess the only thing you can do is keep writing, keep working, and hope the presentation and style with which you infuse into the poem makes it interesting. Does anyone have any opinions on the subject?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Another Idea

Here's another idea: Take a poetry book, randomly open it to a page, then write down the title of that poem. Don't read that poem, just write a poem inspired by the title. It's a way of taking something found, from someone else, and making it your own. Here's an example. The title below, "Night Frogs," is from a Robert Bly poem, from his Selected Poems. I doubt this is very much like Bly's poem. Night Frogs by Donald Illich Forget for a moment all you know of frogs: Kermit and Miss Piggy, beer-belching mascots, the poor science victim you refuse to dissect even if the sadistic teacher gives you an F. These monsters aren’t harmless spermy tadpoles. They consider you an amphibian landing, a beachhead for war they storm at night. The evening is emptied of sound, a pause in their trysting. Suddenly, a wall of croaks slams your window, which slick webbed feet shatter, knocking shards in your startled face. When you give up, they march you into the swamp. The muck covers your legs first, then your chest, until all that peeks out are flared nostrils, red eyes. Kermit’s resting in your bed tonight. He sleeps with your daughter, he’s drinking all your booze. Bulldozers will be coming through tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Kooser Poems

Ted Kooser, of course, is pretty well known as the current poet laureate. I've been looking at some of his poems and thinking about copying his general style, laconic prose with cool, imagistic details, and corrupting it with my weirdness. In other words, give my take on the world while taking bits of his style and approach. I'm sure it'll end up like nothing I expected, an odd synthesis, which is good. My poem below might be an example of this; let me know what you think (if anyone is reading this, that is). Special Effects by Donald Illich The only reason we didn’t die in a nuclear war was that the special effects hadn’t been perfected yet. But as the years grow we become more and more used to the eventual fallouts of our imaginations.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Suzy Zeus Gets Organized

If you're looking for a good read you should try out Maggie Robbins' long, rhymed poem/novella, "Suzy Zeus Gets Organized." Mentioned in the seminal book on depression, "The Noonday Demon," Robbins is witty and funny, and her work is also a good look at how someone recovers from a crisis with manic depression. She writes on her site that in college she used to go up at readings with sections of these poems, like a boyfriend peeing out a window, and I imagine they went over pretty well with the audience. In the end, the story as a whole reads better than any individual line; it's best read quickly, probably, as I did over a few hours. Here's the Web site for the book: http://suzyzeus.maggierobbins.com/

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Poetry Exercise #7: Let It Rip

Sometimes you just need to let it rip. Taking off from a suggestion by Thomas Lux in a book of poetry exercises by writing teachers, just write as much as you can, without thinking too much about it, for a specific amount of time (1-2 minutes if probably good). Do this every day for a week, then go back and refine what you've written. Take parts and lines you like and try to form a poem from them. Have fun with stream of conscious writing. I hope in future entries this year (Happy New Year, by the way) to write more about poets I like, cover more poetry/lit. news, and maybe include some poems of mine. I really like Silliman's Blog and will try to get closer to that.