Friday, April 24, 2009

Pugnaciously pushing a powerful poetry-month phinish

Several were not able to attend the great talk last Thursday here at the store with Ryan Vine - but it was a great chat! I wanted to include some of the highlights and try to turn this into a once a month feature of poetry/poetics resources/reviews kinda deal. Maybe even something more specific! For now, here's the recap of our discussion on poets and poetry non-local, non-famous, non-dead.

1. Ryan Vines poets that he's been excited about he past few months: Dean Young, Tony Hoagland, Karen Volkman, Denise Duhamel, Jennifer Knox, Matthew Dickman, Tom Lux, & Terrance Hayes.

2. In addition (because there's not a name there not worth getting excited over) to that tremendous list, I came up with the following: Russell Edson, Jordan Scott, Matthea Harvey, Eireann Lorsung, & Brenda Shaughnessy.

3. We discussed whether any poet is or can be famous. Mary Oliver's sell-out performances, Billy Collins's best sellers were the only contemporaries we could think of with fame due to their poetry, though those of us who read a lot of poetry would have a long list of candidates who've achieved relative fame.

4. We discussed then influence and representativeness. Every lump of generations seem to have there handful of poets that define their times, but what consensus would be reached for the late 20th Century? Collins? Oliver? A strong case was made for Robert Bly but there was a sad recognition that academics have not fully embraced him. A reluctant case was made for Ashbery, but it felt more like saying Kevin Bacon would be remembered as the actor of this age because of his six degrees - we saw Ashbery spreading a similar net. I made a case for Seamus Heaney - throwing open a gate of all English-speaking poetry. We're holding our final ruling until we have a whopping book deal.

5. There are no whopping book deals even remotely connected to poetry.

6. Some great reviews at Small Press Distribution (we'll be ordering from them more frequently if you see anything you like) and Rain Taxi, from the Cities (available in print free by the door).

It was also decided soon after, that Northern Lights will be carrying several poetry/literary review magazines. Starting this summer (times will vary for each) we'll be carrying Poetry (also, don't miss their blog of poets on poetry, Harriet), American Poetry Review, Crazyhorse and the Kenyon Review.

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