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1. Valerie Macon—Credentialing 1, Poetry 0

2. Patricia Lockwood—“Rape Joke” first viral-era poem to go viral?

3. Paul Lewis—Poe scholar brings Poe statue to Boston: The Jingle Man Returneth

4. Marjorie Perloff—Every era needs its Uber-Critic

5. Charles Wright—New Poet Laureate

6. Camille Paglia—Zeitgeist, Firebrand, Sexual Ethics, Gadfly.

7. James Franco—Can Hollywood make poetry cool again?

8. David LehmanBest American Poetry best anthology gathering-place.

9. Richard Blanco—interviewed in Vogue

10. Garrison Keillor—King of Quietism

11. Kenny Goldsmith—We understand some people take him seriously

12. Marilyn Chin—New book, Hard Love Province (Norton)

13. Amy King—Lesbians trying to take over the world!

14. Charles Bernstein—Papers going to Yale

15. Tao Lin—Alt-Lit unravels

16. William Logan—Every era needs the Kick ass Review

17. George Bilgere—Imperial is new; only poet who can out-Collins Collins.

18. Stephen Burt—Harvard’s frenzy of sweet political correctness.

19. Josh Baines—rips apart Alt-Lit on

20. Don Share—Steering Poetry Foundation Mother Ship

21. Ron Silliman—Guiding Avant-garde ships through Quietism’s shallows

22. Ben Mazer—Neo-Romantic publishes Collected Ransom, the South’s T.S. Eliot

23. Frank Bidart—Punk Rock Robert Lowell

24. Paul Muldoon—Drives the New Yorker

25. Philip Nikolayev—Bringing back Fulcrum

26. Vanessa Place—Museum performer

27. Casey Rocheteau —Wins a home in Detroit for being a poet!

28. Natasha Trethewey—Bids farewell to the Laureateship

29. Billy Collins—Ashbery with meaning

30. Terrence Hayes—Wins MacArthur

31. Harold Bloom—Anxiety of Flatulence?

32. Mary Oliver—Nature poetry sells?

33. David OrrNew York Times Book Review column

34. Adam Kirsch-New Republic critic

35. Susan Wheeler—“narrative glamour” -John Ashbery

36. Andrew Motion—President of the Campaign to Protect Rural England

37. Khaled Matawa—2014 MacArthur Winner

38. Richard Howard—James Merrill lives!

39. John Ashbery—Old Man Obscurity.

40. Eileen Myles—“always hungry”

41. Mark Doty—Brother of Sharon Olds

42. Rae Armantrout—Silliman is a fan

43. Al Filreis—MOOCS!

44. Anne Carson—“inscrutable brilliance” –NY Times

45. Michael Robbins—The Second Sex (Penguin)

46. C.D. Wright—from the Ozarks

47. Lisa RobertsonChicago Review gave her a special issue

48. Claudia Rankine—Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets

49. CAConradPhilip Seymour Hoffman (were you high when you said this?) is his new book

50. Ariana Reines—“To be a memory to men”

51. Kim Adonizzio—“I want that red dress bad”

52. Frederick Seidel—Nominated for Pulitzer in Poetry

53. Kay Ryan—U.S. Poet Laureate 2008 to 2010

54. Edward HirschThe Living Fire, new and selected

55. Christian Wiman–ex-Poetry editor

56. Cornelius Eady—Nominated for a Pulitzer in Drama

57. Bin Ramke—Georgia Foetry Scandal

58. Jorie Graham—Collected Poems coming this winter

59. Erin Belieu—VIDA vision

60. Forrest Gander—anthropological

61. Amjad Nasser—run in w/Homeland Security

62. Ann Lauterbach—her poetry “goes straight to the elastic, infinite core of time” -John Ashbery

63. Rita Dove—editor, The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry

64. Sharon Olds—Mark Doty’s sister

65.  Carol Ann Duffy—High powered, story-telling, Brit

66. Robert Archambeau—Rhyme is returning

67. Monica Handme and Nina, Alice James Books

68. Margo Berdeshersky—“understands how eros is a form of intelligence” -Sven Birkerts

69. Shelagh Patterson—“succeeds in forcing students to become critical thinkers” from Rate My Professors

70. Jennifer Bartlett—“this will all be over soon”

71. Lynne Thompson—“Vivaldi versus Jay-Z”

72. Allison Hedge Coke—Editor of Sing: Indigenous Poetry of the Americas

73. Dan Chiasson—Poet and critic who teaches at Wellesley

74. Martin Espada—Teaches poetry at Amherst

75. Gina Myers—“Love Poem To Someone I Do Not Love”

76. Jen Bervin—Poet and visual artist

77. Mary RuefleTrances of the Blast, latest book

78. Mary Hickman—“This is for Ida who doesn’t like poetry but likes this poem”

79. Catherine Wagner—professor of English at Miami University in Ohio

80. Victoria Chang—PEN winner

81. Matthew KlaneYes! Poetry & Performance Series

82. Adam Golaski-Film Forum Press

83. Mathea Harvey—Contributing editor at jubilat and BOMB

84. Amanda Ackerman—UNFO

85. James Tate—Yale Series of Younger Poets winner, 1967

86. Jenny BoullyThe Book of Beginnings and Endings

87. Joyelle McSweeney—professor at Notre Dame

88. William Kulik—the lively prose poem

89. Tamiko Beyer—Raised in Tokyo, lives in Cambridge, MA

90. Julia Bloch-–teaches creative writing at Penn

91. Brent Cunningham—co-founded Hooke Press

92. Richard Wilbur—Won Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1957 & 1989

93. Patrick James DunaganRumpus reviewer

94. Matthew Zapruder—Wave Editor

95. David Kirby—“The Kirb” teaches in Florida, uses humor in poetry

96. Alan Cordle— founder

97. Lyn HejinianThe Book of a Thousand Eyes

98. Cole Swensen—Translates from the French

99. Aaron Kunin—Teaches Milton at Pomona

100. Dana WardThis Can’t Be Life


  1. Mary Douglas said,

    October 9, 2014 at 12:39 am

    October 8, 2014

    I wholeheartedly agree with Scarriet in awarding the top place to Valerie Macon—in her appointment as poet laureate of North Carolina and in her subsequent resignation from that post a week later, as the number one significant event in the poetic life, debate of our nation for this year, and I agree that in this matter, sadly, Poetry lost and credentialing won.

    As a resident of North Carolina for the past 21 years (originally from Arkansas) and as a life-long (since childhood) practicing (though largely unpublished) poet myself, except on my own internet blog, I am very attuned to poetry and a life in poetry: the pitfalls, the dragons at the gates, both heavenly and otherwise.

    And I do want to say here that of course I am not saying that all the poets who made it through those gates are bad poets. Truly we have many great poets who have jumped through these hoops and even those who came against Valerie may have done so only because they were heartbroken about being left out of the process when they themselves were passionate and dedicated to poetry.

    Perhaps they had a blind siding moment where they lost all sense of decorum and I do not want to accuse them of anything. Nevertheless, I deeply regret that all this took place, for whatever reason and feel compelled to add my two cents to the discussion.

    When Valerie Macon was appointed Poet Laureate of North Carolina on July 11, 2014, I was jubilant, as I realized she had made it through the gates without the tedious, tendentious counting up of prizes, accolades and tenures. I considered it a miracle. The criticism of her made me gleeful, almost giddy, because I realized she had soared above it all on the merits of only loving poetry and writing it for and out of love: the thing I most believe in (next to God and Christ) of all things left to believe in on this earth.

    On July 17, 2014 I was at home, halfway listening to the radio (local news) and doing, as a friend of mine says, “little busy things” around my minuscule apartment, when I heard the announcement: Valerie Macon has resigned

    Oh no, I said and dropped what was in my hand. Fortunately, it was only a feather duster and nothing breakable. I said oh no because I realized in a flash of intuition that they had hounded her out of office and that she was of course, justified in leaving such a false and hostile work environment, although she kindly did not mention this in her resignation letter which I found online in a press release from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Affairs later in the day or the next day.

    Then I had another experience, one which I consider a personal watershed for me in my lifelong, obscure life in poetry, and one which I feel is, and truly should be, viewed as a watershed moment not only in North Carolinian literary history but in the entire literary history of the United States.

    Valerie Macon, in her last official words on the subject (in her resignation letter), said these (to me) almost angelic words, bypassing the rabble rousing, the (apparently) numbers driven state media and blogiverse scandal mongers in words that will forever live in my heart as the most felicitous:

    “I remain passionate about the mission of poetry to touch all people regardless of age, education, or social status.

    I would like to encourage everyone to read and write poetry. They do not need a list of prestigious publishing credits or a collection of accolades from impressive organizations – just the joy of words and appreciation of self-expression.”

    After this quiet manifesto, a restatement of our unalienable poetic birthright as American citizens, and some would say, and I do, our poetic birthright from the hand of God—best illustrated in the words of Russian-American Joseph Brodsky, (U.S. poet laureate 1991-1992), Russian dissident and Nobel prize winning essayist (on poetic themes, 1987) who said on trial in Moscow when he was scorned for seeing himself as a poet “I thought that [i.e., a poetic vocation]] was something decided by God” (and let me add with Scarriet, not by credentialing committees (however well intentioned) of any ilk, especially, not in a free country!)

    American poetry and poets can wander where they will, and they have. No matter what, the case has been made (through Valerie Macon’s letter and her harrowing experience)—as if it should have been required to have been made at all! that the greatest credential of all is to write from your own heart and mind in true liberty without restriction and without regard to the opinion of experts.

    This alone (in my view) is true poetry, and the atmosphere in which it thrives, and it may be the answer to the question on some people’s minds, at least, of why so little poetry is read in America now that we have somehow locked ourselves into a system that seems to quell the spontaneous overflow necessary to the creation of the poetry we have, in the past, cherished, because it was made in a free way by free men and women, and not shackled.

    Can’t we find some way to think through all these things? Isn’t there another way, besides sifting all of us through the very painful sifter that leaves so much, so many out? I think we need all the poets, all the poems there are; just like in the fairy tale it often happens the thing you chose to ignore, the thing that appears of little consequence, turns out to be the very thing you needed most of all. All I am saying is, please open a little wider the gates of poetry and respect each other.

    Mary Angela Douglas

    P.S. Please excuse any typos or lack of clarity in this. I am dealing with eyesight problems and keyboard problems typing on my tiny, beautiful and somewhat glitchy netbook computer.that I love because it was given to me by a dear, eternal friend.

    • Diane Roberts Powell said,

      October 14, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Mary, I feel the same way as you do. And I didn’t see anything at all wrong with her poetry. As a matter of fact, it very much reminded me of quite a few of the poems that appear in The Made Thing: An Anthology of Southern Poetry, edited by David Bottoms and Leon Stokesberry, I believe. I think this anthology came out in the mid 1980s. I would imagine that quite a few of the poets, in the anthology, went through an MFA program as did Bottoms and Stokesberry. However, there were, I believe, also some older poets who were “grandfathered in,” who taught here or there in different programs, and either were not educated or had been educated at a time when the MFA was very rare. (The latter seems more likely). In other words, she writes poetry in keeping with what most likely would be some of the Southern peers of her generation (which I am guessing is an older Baby Boomer). As a younger Baby Boomer, (which is still old, ha), I write some poems like that. Not all of them, but some. Now, are some of the people, who were raising such a stink about her poetry, quite a bit younger than her? If they weren’t they should know better. Even if they were younger, they should know better. It’s bad enough that the Northern literary magazines turn up their noses at Southern poetry. When your own people do it, it’s disgusting!

      I think my spell check is failing me.

      • Mary Douglas said,

        October 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

        Dear Diane,

        Everyone (old and young) at least in print -was turning up their noses and it was called a unanimous uprising from the NC literary community literary “uproar” and “outrage” that she was appointed but the charge was led sadly by people of her own generation and clime, embarrassingly by former state poets laureates. I believe this “uprising” was carefully orchestrated and manufactured. It was definitely not spontaneous and not unanimous though it was presented that way.

        More is the pity. The strangest thing if you do a close reading of all the blogs and newspaper articles against her with the single nationwide exeption of this sterling one that dared to differ-

        apart from a couple of poems -on her self publisher’s website (Old Mountain Press) many of the media outlets, lock step bloggers etc. hadn’t even READ Valerie Macon’s poetry before they passed judgement which is why what Tom Brady/Graves achieved in his article about her poetry was so fantastic. – as in “LET’S LOOK AT THE POEMS, SHALL WE?”

        I can’t tell you how many blogs I read that said something like: “I haven’t read her poetry but I know someone who has..”

        She was also excoriated because she was a self published poet but mostly she was excoriated because the Governor of North Carolina had the nerve to pick someone that wasn’t on the state literati’s list

        She was mocked as a person who pinned little poems on the bulletin board at work possibly or as the only person the Governor knew personally who even wrote poetry. She was demeaned as an outsider and a beginner even though she is an official in the North Carolina Poetry Society, (an older organization than the Arts Council) had won a couple of their contests etc.

        If you looked and look even now at her Wikipedia page you can still see the minefield it was and is (and libelous, too, in my opinion) in some aspects.

        She definitely stands in the tradition of James Larkin Pearson the second (and longest serving) poet laureate of North Carolina who self published on his own printing press (he even made the printing press) five of his books and who wrote exactly the poems he wanted to write as she does from her own heart and mind and observation and she couldn’t have had a finer observation of her poetry than that of Thomas Graves if she had scoured the whole earth for it.

        Her appointment by the Governor of North Carolina without deferring to state literary organizations as had been the long standing custom of just a few years was presented as a “slap in the face” by one former poet laureate who was then quoted and quoted by all the newspapers but from my pov it was a slap in the face to pure poetry itself and at least to all the anonymous, self published poets of NC
        who somehow weren’t included as part of the literary community and who perhaps silently cheered her nomination.

        Close at hand it was quite a brawling spectacle.

        But she stood up to them by continuing to write and read during the whole debacle and that is also why I love and cherish her as a real American poet.

        Mary Angela Douglas


        • Mary Douglas said,

          October 14, 2014 at 8:27 am

          P.S. Your spell check was fine (and your poetic conscience). I will look into the anthology and other things you mentioned.

          I love Scarriet!

          • Mary Douglas said,

            October 14, 2014 at 8:52 am

            I meant to say regarding the “slap in the face” that the negative REACTION to Valerie Macon’s appointment was the slap in the face and the “controversy”. They all got it (media) backwards. Anyone not in the North Carolina established literary community got a slap in the face by the former poets laureate who ganged up on her appointment and bum rushed her out of office. And these are the people supposedly encouraging other people to write. Some encouragement. I do want to say however that I love many of the poems of the people who did this which made it even more sad to me.

            • Mary Douglas said,

              October 14, 2014 at 9:25 am

              I don’t want to discount everyone who gets an MFA but I don’t think it’s the golden ticket its made out to be. And who is going to go back in time and discount Shakespeare (and company) for not getting one? I think poets would do better to lock themselves in a room (with food and water, of course) with Shakespeare, Keats, Yeats and a few of the immortals than go to any MFA program, but that’s just my opinion. Joseph Brodsky quit school at 15. Ray Bradbury never got past high school. Did they have incredibly beautiful imaginations and was their writing and reading them worth it? I think so.

              Self-education has gotten a bad rap but Valerie Macon was an English major and what’s so terrible about peace, love and understanding and just being an English major and afterwards, close reading on your own? Do we really need all these trappings?

              But – to each his own. In Hans Andersen’s The Emperor’s Nightingale the nightingale that sang the best in all the kingdom shunned the castle and sang in the woods…and banished Death.

      • Diane Roberts Powell said,

        October 16, 2014 at 3:26 am

        Mary, I made a mistake earlier about the anthology, and wanted to correct it. The title is; The Made Thing: An Anthology of Contemporary Southern Poetry (1987). And it was edited by Leon Stokesbury. I misspelled his name earlier and credited Bottoms with co-editing the book, which he didn’t. However, David Bottoms DID co-edit a book with fellow poet Dave Smith titled, The Morrow Anthology of Younger American Poets (1985).

        • Mary Douglas said,

          October 16, 2014 at 3:40 am

          Thank you so much, Dianne. I appreciate being able to learn more. It’s very kind (and thorough) of you-
          Mary D.

          • Diane Roberts Powell said,

            October 16, 2014 at 3:54 am

            All of us are still learning, Mary. I know I am.

            • Mary Douglas said,

              October 16, 2014 at 2:11 pm

              It never stops, does it? isn’t it wonderful? Diane, thank you so much for mentioning those two books. I looked them up on my tried and d and true (favorite) second hand bookstore website and found both of them for 3.49 apiece, so I will soon delve into them.

              My knowledge of contemporary poetry since the 1970s is as full of holes as swiss cheese and these books were published exactly in the time frame I am most interested in, so this is invaluable to me. Thank you again.

              Mostly in my independent study life after college I have focused only on the immortal poets that Scarriet champions so well and rightly. Partly because I wanted to know them most of all but also because I didn’t want to be unduly influenced by the present but to live in the golden age(s) of Poetry with a capital “P”.

              But now I feel a need to try to understand for myself more in detail the continuity (or lack of it) and the chronology (good or bad) of American poetry – still not forgetting the immortals. Sometimes I wonder after finding out about Shakespeare why any of us bother writing anything at all – but think how his contemporaries must have felt!

              My favorite immortal (well I think he IS) “Southern” poet is definitely Conrad Aiken. The New York Times once criticized him for being too lyrical!

              But I also favor in that way for its lyricism the poetic prose of the novelist Eudora Welty. I love Faulkner’s novelistic prose poetry in his sentences (and dear Thomas Wolfe) but I can’t bear his subject matter (Faulkner’s) it feels so grim and intractable but I always feel when I do read him – how it glimmers like light through a dark forest – his premier wish to be a poet. His punctuation battles with his editors always make me laugh;he got quite fiery with them over it.

              I wonder how many “failed” American poets turned to novel writing and how many poets we have lost in that way. Even Herman Melville wanted most of all to be a poet and I like his poems better than Moby Dick, but now – I have definitely left the South.

              What are your favorite “desert island” poets, if you don’t mind my asking? When you get around to it. No hurry.

              Mary D.

              • Diane Roberts Powell said,

                October 16, 2014 at 8:27 pm

                Mary, I think for so long, (and rightly so, I believe) poetry was considered to be the absolute pinnacle as far as literary achievement was concerned. It was known that not everyone who wanted to could succeed as a poet. A poet had to be knowledgeable about his predecessors as well as his fellow man. He or she was considered a historian or a mystic in some cases.

                It seems like the magic is gone now.

                I would have to think on the desert island reads; although, I keep going back to an anthology of French poetry that includes Nerval through to Apollinaire. I also find myself going back to Rimbaud’s complete works edited by Wallace Fowlie.

                • Mary Douglas said,

                  October 16, 2014 at 8:53 pm

                  I don’t feel like the magic is gone myself at all. Poetry embraces all the poetry ever written as our full inheritance. I don’t understand (though I know what you mean; many people do feel nothing is happening if its not happening right now or down the street at the corner coffee shop-I don’t mean you who clearly have so much more depth than that in cherishing the French poets as you do)

                  But I read some article I think by Alessandra Ferri of The Washington Post entitled “Is Poetry Dead?” and I just wanted to tell her, no it can never die that is why we preserve the past so we can refer back to the golden poems, music, paintings works of genius and beauty. We are not confined to our own Age or epoch at all unless we choose to be. Not every age can be the Renaissance.

                  We have to keep the magic alive ourselves, in ourselves. The idea of masterpieces has been so eroded. Every poem is new if it is new to you even if it was written 500 years ago. We used to know this; other cultures do but perhaps they are also losing their connection to the past as if we all had collective, short term memories regarding our cultural inheritance.

                  Most of those poets never had in mind what people have in mind now, “becoming a success.” They were impelled by something within them to write irregardless of critics, audience, war, famine, terror, anything. For this reason I entitled my own poetry blog To the Russian Poets to honor those who continued to write personal, lyric (AND NOT POLITICAL, PROPAGANDISTIC, PANDERING POETRY) and in a classical tradition even at the cost of imprisonment in the gulags or loss of life. Poetry there is not a pet. Poetry is not cute. Poetry is life and death and many prisoners in the camps kept themselves alive reciting to themselves the verses of the great Akhmatova and others.

                  Poetry in its real sense has always lthroughout the world) been inherently regarded as the crown, the flower, the “pinnacle” as you say (what a beautiful word you chose) of language. If it were not, it would be prose which still can be coloured by poetry.

                  In our country in many ways I believe journalism eroded poetry and sought to take over as the pinnacle. But this is false. There has been a change in consciousness, in content and a replacement of inner vision with the quest for the target or niche market, “success.

                  But Poetry itself, like the soul of man can never die. It can be ignored, manipulated, kicked off the stage but it is still an Eternal Presence and possibility.

                  That’s just what I think not engraven in stone.

                  • Mary Douglas said,

                    October 16, 2014 at 9:07 pm

                    Well Oops. Alessandra Ferri is one of my favorite ballerinas (especially in Giselle) The lady from The Washington Post who wrote the essay called: Is Poetry Dead (Jan 22, 2013) is named Alexadra Petri and is an interesting writer I think. At least she cared enough about poetry to ask that question.

                    I can’t read French at all but I love Rilke’s French poems (translated into English) the rose series. beautiful, beautiful!

                    And I listen with delight to the way French sounds in the dreamy (almost wrote creamy because I’m hungry) film by Jean Cocteau La Belle et La Bete. I hope we never have to go to desert islands and only take a few books or pieces of music. The very thought makes me nervous especially after that Tom Hanks film where he had to talk to a coconut.

                    • Mary Douglas said,

                      October 16, 2014 at 9:20 pm

                      Her name is Alexandra Petri. I need a keyboard not made in Munchkin land.

                  • Diane Roberts Powell said,

                    October 16, 2014 at 9:29 pm

                    Well said Mary. I think that perhaps what I meant about the magic being gone is society’s attitude towards poets. I still believe that one is born a poet. Now everyone who wants to spend a few thousand dollars can be a poet. It’s no longer a calling, it’s just another job description to some. And I think that’s sad. I see nothing wrong with studying poetry at a university. But now academia has taken over the entire field of American poetry. They used to exist side by side ( the academic poets and other poets).

                    Mary, let’s face it, some of the academic poets are just plain lazy. I’m speaking of the ones who work 2/2 yet still can’t find the time to bother learning another language. And then, knowing nothing of said laguage, write translations which are published in places like Poety. Christian Wiman didn’t know one word of Russian, yet he wrote and published his translation of Ossip Mandelstam’s work. Ilya Kaminsky, who is a native speaker, and wrote the introduction, must have done the footwork behind this. Kaminsky had already been roped into helping another poet, who possessed no knowledge of Russian, tanslate a book of poems. I wish that Mr. Kaminsky would learn to say no to these pesky poets, who have bright ideas like that. I hope that he will finally start translating works from Russian without any added “help.”

                    I had already noticed Poetry published some translations from poets, who didn’t know the language they were translating from. LAZY!!

                    • Mary Douglas said,

                      October 16, 2014 at 10:37 pm

                      Dear Diane,

                      I truly knew you didn’t mean the magic was gone in that way-I was just branching out from what you said in my reaction to that Washington Post article I read a while back that I have kind of been carrying around with me heart sore since I read it. I shouldn’t have condensed my ideas so much. I’m sorry it sounded that way.

                      You are clearly a person beautifully entrenched in your own magical sense of poetry. It is very interesting to me what you say about the translaters. I have been wondering about that myself. This may have been going on for a long time, this kind of ghost writing of translations and fudging it with a dictionary (plus piggy backing off of older, better translations).

                      Osip Mandelstam by far is my favorite Russian poet. After I read his wife’s (Nadezhda Mandelstam’s) two memoirs (such beautiful, sad and yet sparkling memoirs) I felt I knew him. And I do feel the two “notebooks”, Voronezh and Moscow poems are beautifully translated (In the Bloodaxe translations), not that I know Russian but I do have a feeling for him as a person and a poet to distinguish the musically correct from the musically inhabiting of the soul of his poetry-

                      I do have some recordings of Russian poetry in Russian that I listen to and I do know the alphabet so I can sound some things out.

                      His story seemed the most tragic of all the poets under Stalin. So filled with poetry and with the sheer joy of life to be so psychologically hounded and hunted. And Pasternak couldn’t save him. Heart sore it makes me every time I think of it and I am in no way Russian.

                      I had heard of Ilya Kaminsky. He seems to be a good hearted person and I found some beautiful audio clips of his reading his poetry in a quite unusual way. I did not like his poems on Mandelstam (his original ones). I felt something (but I can’t say what) was missing. I felt badly to feel that way but I couldn’t shake that feeling. He does seem a real poet to me, though, in other ways.

                      I forgot to say in the other email how much I liked your use of the word mystic in reference to real poets. I truly believe that is a real (immeasurable) measure of a poet but how can you prove they really are? As complicated as the scenario in The Princess and the Pea. Maybe by how you feel in reading them, I guess.

                      You are right I had forgotten that the academic poets used to sit at the same table with the non academic. I always thought of the poets altogether; the very concept of academic poet makes me feel weird but I think sometimes they did not mingle so comfortably together.

                      Thomas Wolfe (whom I essentially regard as a poet) felt extremely uncomfortable, and “dumb-downed” around William Rose Benet and Eleanor Wylie. But now I just sound like a gossip and I don’t want to treat “my” poets that way…

                      Lovely to ‘hear’ your rich insights and to have the privilege of being on “Scarriet” to hear them1 Thank you!

                      Mary D.

                    • Mary Douglas said,

                      October 18, 2014 at 1:42 pm

                      Dear Diane,

                      I love what you said about being born a poet and having a calling being out of the picture and it turning into a job description. And the point about laziness in academia. I think we are all suffering from the results of this.

                      I confess I often find myself lazy in study as well. I do feel attracted to the word “rigorous” when applied to the concept of study and that is my goal but I’m nowhere near it. I like Mr. Graves essays on Scarriet because they are rigorous. And the poems because they flow out of thinking as well as feeling, a hard thing to combine for many poets, known and unknown.

                      It is clear to me though ever since high school that you truly do reap personally what you sow (in study) and over time really lovely realizations, interconnections between things can occur to you the more you “apply yourself” (as my Grandfather used to say) although sometimes I would rather ” ponder them in my heart” (the interconnections) than comment on them openly and I guess that’s where private journals can come into the picture.

                      This is the first blog I have ever commented on though I have left comments on news blogs which I stopped doing when people seemed to be constantly in attack mode and there wasn’t even anything to attack in what I wrote.

                      I guess part of being retired (and I’ve only been so a little over a year) is learning to use your time well for what you really want to do (i.e. study, writing, or just plain reading) but it’s a shock how much kind of falls apart when you don’t have any regular (academic or workplace) schedule to plug into.

                      I do find the need to daydream quite a lot which doesn’t really feel like a waste of time when often the daydreaming winds up at the doorstep of a new poem.

                      I wonder what your experience of this is like (I mean personal study). Sometimes I feel like I need some soundtrack like the one that accompanied Chariots of Fire to spur me on. Somehow things still get done but when you have less years in front of you you do feel the absolute need to find a way to concentrate more than you did in the past, and to grow in your ability to concentrate, more and more.

                      I would also be interested to know what other poetry anthologies you enjoy and would recommend. I love best the old Oscar Williams anthologies. What an amazing person he was. He gathered together so much that was good and was an early champion of Dylan Thomas, among others.

                      Have a lovely day – to you, and to anyone else listening.

                      Mary D.

  2. Mary Douglas said,

    October 9, 2014 at 1:06 am


    to Valerie Macon, poet laureate of North Carolina for just six days who resigned on July 17, 2014 because other, former poet laureates and many others in the literary community ganged up on her because she was only a “self-published” poet (at least, it seemed that way to me and to many others)

    and who said in her resignation letter to everyone. don’t forget to love poetry even if you haven’t collected accolades…

    and, we won’t. As for those whose scorn for the self-published seems unbounded, if you want to drive the Muse from your own door, attacking a fellow poet, (no matter how lacking in credentials you think they are) like a pack of wild dogs – in broad daylight – should suffice.

    who will He send, the angels of saffron?
    this time, the ones of sheer starlight small children
    see straight through?

    the ones of green linen
    soothing the wounds. the wounded.
    once again on earth, cried the violet

    shadows, poets fight poetry with their inverted shields
    their plumes upside down backwards on their horses
    running down the unqualified.

    plaintive on a lute in a far away time someone strummed
    a few notes under the moonlight. thank God no one heard.
    or just a few friends. and song flowed under the doors, through

    the chinks of the windows and was welcomed.
    sit down at the table, here is dark bread, our last slice
    and spring-cooled butter. jam of the summer strawberries we kept

    just for you and you recited for no money at all
    the beauty of the day gone by and how the angels tread
    on clouds of rose and gold above our worst hour and children folded up their

    tiny griefs and grasped with both hands the moonlight appearing at the door that never wanted to leave again.
    and neither, neither did we.

    mary angela douglas 18 july 2014

  3. thomasbrady said,

    October 9, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you, Mary.

    The passion of your eloquence is inspiring—and quite beautiful.

    And I really do love your poetry…

    • Mary Douglas said,

      October 9, 2014 at 4:16 pm

      Thank you very much, Mr. Graves. I am proud at any time to speak well of Valerie Macon. She used the excoriating moment she happened to be in to stand up for the real truth of poetry. We have lost largely the joy of writing and reading, of being in poetry for its
      own sake (as Valerie pointed out by reminding us that it was still there for us to claim – and brighter than any prize could ever be).

      The eloquence I feel is just an overflow of feeling for the miracle of
      her (I mean, Valerie Macon) reclaiming through just a few well crafted, heartfelt sentences in her resignation letter, and (in that snakebitten, carping, bickering context that surrounded her appointment -all the lost ground of decades
      (“generations have trod, have trod, have trod” as in Hopkins)-
      in American poetry that has been (however inadvertantly) stolen from us all and ENSLAVED by a system and cookie cutter pattern of writing poems that all sound the same (regardless of the individual poets own, original voice and inclination which is clearly strangled).

      How can this not be a cause for eloquence. The stones should sing out.

      And thank you deeply for the kind comment about my poems.

  4. Christopher Craig said,

    October 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Any top 100 list that leaves out Cynthia Cruz is immediately suspect. Can you please make a hotlist of non-academic poets? Do we really need the same old names again?

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 11, 2014 at 3:00 am


      Curious why Cynthia Cruz is important to you. Just read Kingdom of Dirt, Self Portrait, and Sparks, Nevada. Not impressed.


      • noochinator said,

        October 11, 2014 at 8:50 am

        Self Portrait

        I did not want my body
        Spackled in the world’s
        Black beads and broke
        Diamonds. What the world

        Wanted, I did not. Of the things
        It wanted. The body of Sunday
        Morning, the warm wine and
        The blood. The dripping fox

        Furs dragged through the black New
        York snow—the parked car, the pearls,
        To the first pew—the funders,
        The trustees, the bloat, the red weight of

        The world. Their faces. I wanted not
        That. I wanted Saint Francis, the love of
        His animals. The wolf, broken and bleeding—
        That was me.

        Cynthia Cruz

        • Mary Douglas said,

          October 11, 2014 at 10:10 am

          I very much love the black beads and broke diamonds aspect of Cynthia’s poem, the scattered later bead of the black snow and the way it suddenly shifts into something else in the last stanza, the wound of the poet and always I have forever a weakness for St. Francis though I prefer his sunbursts, his canticles over everything else.

          Regardings lists of 100 anything in the end we all make our own lists anyway, don’t we? A list of 100 anything cannot include everyone that is not its purpose. And what may seem old hat to some is new or news to others. I am glad to read any poem unless its intention is malicious because I have found something good in many, even if it is only one word. I think all poets are brave to even try.

          I like to look for what I call the pearl of the poem, where it comes to light though sadly some poems seem to have no light at all which makes me want to pray for the poet. Please don’t think I mean this in a smug way.

          One of my favorite things on this list was calling Garrison Keilor King of Quietism. Very lovely. And I am very happy about Richard Wilbur. And I see many names I don’t know that I can look into. Everyone’s experience with a list will be different but from a certain point of view everything is useful and interesting. Lists and reactions to lists…

          • Mary Douglas said,

            October 18, 2014 at 1:58 pm

            A later postscript on the subject of Cynthia Cruz. I found a line (image) of hers recently (after hearing her name on the Top 100 List) that was absolutely stunning: “a gorgeous hurricane of bees” which seems a refraction of Sylvia Plath but with more light in it. I do believe in leaving the light on in the poem even when discoursing on a dark mood or frame of mind (both for the sake of the poet and the person reading the poem). That is why I love Eliot’s Ash Wednesday but cannot stand his depressing reflections on the hollow men that ends with a whimper, not a bang. Thanks a lot I want to say T.S. for making all our days a little brighter.

            • Mary Douglas said,

              October 18, 2014 at 2:42 pm

              Let me quickly add in case my wish fairy is standing by and finally decides to do something, that I never, ever wish to be in or to witness a hurricane of bees, gorgeous or otherwise.

  5. thomasbrady said,

    October 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    In terms of the Meyers Briggs personality types, some are P and some are J—there are perceivers and judges. (Guess what I am) Valerie Macon, I would guess, is an INFP. Mary, you seem like an ENFJ. Or maybe you are a ENFP. I am an INFJ. I’m just making an illustration; you don’t have to believe the scores really mean anything; perhaps they don’t.

    I don’t know if one can just read a poem; we can’t help but read a poem with/against every poem we have ever read/remembered. That’s where the difference comes in, Mary: not the poem, but one’s experience/perception of poetry. The poem IS an objective fact, and it can receive judgment which comes close to approximating what its actual worth is. But because the poem refers to other things which in turn awakens various subjective experiences, there will always be that ‘he likes it/he doesn’t’ factor.

    If I were a “P,” the “black beads and broke Diamonds” would please me, but as a “J,” the poem—which, as a poem, isn’t really doing anything interesting in terms of form, or presenting a novel idea or sentiment—does not. The idea “what the world wanted I did not” has been articulated a million times before; identifying with animals has been done a million times before, and the point of the poem is made directly, with no layers of meaning; I find its assertion quite plain, and banal. That’s my “J” speaking. The assertion, “what the world wanted I did not,” has potential; but it’s not exploited. Breaking the phrase at “wanted” just doesn’t do anything for me. In fact, it makes me roll my eyes. That’s the “J” for you. And everyone has a “J.” We can’t pretend the “J” doesn’t exist. The “J” and the “P” will always attend to different things in the poem. A great “P” score cannot cancel out a poor “J” score in the Critic’s mind.

    • Mary Douglas said,

      October 12, 2014 at 10:29 pm

      This is after the fact, I know, but – sunhat with the rose hat in hand, I wish to apologize for my uninformed reaction to the comparisons with the Briggs Meyers personality scale. When I actually studied what all the initials meant and the philosophy behind it was very interesting and illuminating. This is not a cold, statistical butterfly pinning to the board psychological test at all. It has a lot of warmth and humanity and creativity and is open to interpretation of the person taking it – to understand themselves. So a good metaphor and I did not know what I did not know that I know now.

      And of course in the cultural angelic wars we absolutely need firm critical distinctions to be made by brave critics such as (but who else is such as I don’t know) Mr. Thomas Graves/Brady. For me as well there was something turgid about the poem of Ms. Cruz however lovely I found the image of broken beads and it was almost like reading two unrelatable poems that could not be stitched together.

      Still, perhaps all of it even in imperfections reflected the state of her soul in moving through the superficialities in the world. I am such a waffle person, waffling back and forth in the breeze and not dependable as a critic of anything I am certain. But, St. Francis…sigh.

      Then I read a poem of hers where she spoke of living in seven foster homes as a child and I saw the brokenness in the poem as emblematic of her soul and so I feared to tread further.

      But it is not a lack of love to tell the truth as far as you can understand it as Mr. Graves/Brady has done and is doing by his own lights and thus- through your own literary conscience to judge a work of art – if you are called as a critic and God can give grace to the poet who has ears to hear to attend or not attend.

      I do try to look for brightness in every poem but I know in my heart of hearts and mind of minds that Mr. G. is correct in saying that we all have these discernments within us to judge and it is not the same as accusation. It is brave and it is a worthy thing to speak clearly what you really think and this is how – eventually – truth comes to light in these matters. So, I am sorry. But I confess I was very happy to read Andrews comment on my comment on poetic liberty which still does not contradict or preclude the necessity for the critical liberty of the Critic.

      • Mary Douglas said,

        October 12, 2014 at 11:02 pm

        P.S. Maybe all the poets, especially those in the public eye feel like the phrase from Yeats:

        “I have spread my dreams under your feet.
        Tread softly because you tread on my dreams”

        But who’s to say the critics don’t feel this way, too and maybe we’re all in the same dream anyway.

  6. Andrew said,

    October 11, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    My “like” above is due to Mary Douglas’s heartfelt defense of poetic liberty more than for the list of 100 names – none of whom (which?) I am familiar with except for B. Collins, G. Keillor and R. Dove, amateur and Philistine that I am.

    “American poetry and poets can wander where they will, and they have. No matter what, the case has been made […] that the greatest credential of all is to write from your own heart and mind in true liberty without restriction and without regard to the opinion of experts.”

    There is so much in what Mary said and I am inspired by her words.

  7. Mary Douglas said,

    October 11, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Our gifts differ but our Cause does not she said, still smiling and grateful to be here.

  8. Mary Douglas said,

    October 11, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    I do understand that the role of the critic as understood as Thomas Brady/Graves understands it is a sacred calling and anyway, without the travail he went through to co-found and to remain (while watching his friends depart) the sole guardian of this fantastic, necessary Scarriet blog
    none of us would be here discussing anything.

    I am only speaking for myself personally. I don’t really know another way to speak and I don’t I don’t I don’t want to be – not even as a metaphor described by any psychometric scale;that makes me want to cry and that does not seem to be on their scale (I looked it up).

    How I do feel is in the poem below. Of course it is true as Mr. Graves says that we all have the judge within us. Speaking only for myself and as a result of having been harshly judged myself in countless situations especially within the last seven years to the point of acute distress I want to kill the critic inside me even while at the same time appreciating the role of the Critic who is uplifting according to his own lights and with great courage what is the true, the good the beautiful.

    I can’t explain it in any more words like these. For myself I imagine God wanting to hear anything from us, anything at all and I want in my sometimes even accusing heart and knee jerk reaction heart to be more like Him. This is how I feel about myself. Not how I feel about Thomas Graves distinctions which I respect and learn from and as His workmen (in my belief) I do understand we should always strive to be the best we can at our craft and this is honor, and honorable beyond dispute.

    To The Poets Stumbling Blind

    God’s own children stumbling into language
    are we half-blind, self conscious, stammering
    laden with impediments of our own making?

    never mind He wants to hear it all
    in His great Heart’s craving ear of
    sheer pearl. waiting…

    to Him it is music though we quarrel among ourselves.
    making our own distinctions.
    to Him it is song. He Is without ranking

    whether it is a sun breaking into myriad

    jewels on the Infinite waters.
    or not.

    mary angela douglas 11 october 2014

  9. Zachary Bos said,

    October 12, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Hits list, or hit list? “… whose poems only were delayed vengeance.”

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 12, 2014 at 1:47 am

      Hi Zachary,

      Good point. Both.


  10. Paula Walborsky said,

    October 12, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Where is Barbara Hamby? What kind of a list of even five poets does not include Barbara Hamby?

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 12, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      The Kirb’s wife? Not going to touch that one.

      OK, I will. What I see on-line is a little cluttered for my taste—poems with a lot going on wear me out. That’s just me.

      What poem by her would you recommend, Paula?

  11. noochinator said,

    October 13, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    The Tawdry Masks of Women

    Every bus ride is theater, giddy schoolgirls trying on
    the tawdry masks of women, flirting with my nephew,

    red and green lights, shop windows piled high, gold
    glistered skeletal mannequins in slips of iridescent silk.

    At night in the wind blowing over the Pont Marie I hear
    Camille Claudel crying from the walls of her studio,

    and two days before Christmas Elliot and I stand
    miraculously alone before La Gioconde, follow her eyes,

    cracked surface of her skin like softest sand before the deep
    water of her mouth, and later standing in the cold

    our Buddhist gardienne Nadine tells me in rapid-fire French
    that in all things she tries to remain neutral, neutre, neutre,

    neutre, the only word finally I understand in the barrage
    tumbling out of her mouth like a waterfall, but I can’t be

    neutral, passion welling up in my heart for the exhausted maids,
    dapper men in berets, the madwoman on the PC bus,

    screaming, Salope, salope, as she descends at the Pont d’Ivry
    and everyone on the bus looking at each other, Whore?

    Who’s the whore here? or the chic older woman, leather pants
    baggy on her skinny shanks, reading a battered paperback

    Rimbaud as we take the bus to see Pasolini’s Canterbury Tales,
    the master himself as Chaucer, spinning his ribald stories

    of human folly, each one a mirror, and when I see myself
    in bus windows or store glass, the shock never wears off,

    for I recognize myself and see a stranger at the same time,
    because the minutes are racing by at the speed of light,

    and I am saying goodbye to Paris, to everyone, myself
    most of all, watching her disappear down the rue Jeanne d’Arc,

    and what can she possibly be thinking as she walks
    to the movies in the middle of this afternoon of her life?

    Barbara Hamby

  12. Bob Grumman said,

    October 13, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Interesting: a hot hundred in poetry and not one of them with any concern with poetry that’s any more cutting edge than the sort of language poetry accepted by the Poetry Establishment twenty years ago. Alas, I guess they ARE what’s hot in poetry for most of the people with an interest in poetry.

    • thomasbrady said,

      October 13, 2014 at 11:20 pm


      Can you point us to what’s “cutting edge” now?

  13. Andrew said,

    October 14, 2014 at 12:48 am

    coldly abstract neo-nonsense
    read (by dullards) as cutting edge…
    letters void of correspondence,
    well-trimmed words’ linguistic hedge.

    [from: Stuff Poetry Hates, a lyrical extravaganza soon to be loosed upon an unsuspecting and unpoetic nation]

    Personally I think that “cutting edge” means it’s no use even against warm butter… poetically speaking of course.

  14. Mary Douglas said,

    October 14, 2014 at 1:48 am

    I like the word vanguard. Used in a sentence I think Scarriet in many ways is in the vanguard or maybe is the vanguard. Cutting edge is a respectable term. The word edgy makes me nervous. I know that I do not want to read edgy poetry. Poetry that cuts through butter could be useful. I miss Lewis Carroll.

    • Mary Douglas said,

      October 14, 2014 at 1:58 am

      P.S. You might if you wish take a look at Bob Grumman’s visual poetry “swan” (on his website). I found it enchanting. I’m not talking about the list now just going off on a tangent. But a nice one.

      • Mary Douglas said,

        October 14, 2014 at 9:13 am

        Back to the list there is a poet I especially love Katherine E. Young (Day of the Border Guards) who is also a Russian translator – and writes of her personal experience in Russia in a lyrical fashion. I’m not complaining she’s not on the list, just mentioning her as a relatively new poet of merit.

        Also, what is wrong with Harold Bloom? I don’t agree with all his maps of misreading but I do cherish a lot of what he writes about poetry and I love his anthologies: The Best Poems of the English Language, Stories For Extremely Intelligent Children, and the one about poets last poems (forgot the title).

        • thomasbrady said,

          October 14, 2014 at 3:20 pm

          Hi Mary,

          Harold Bloom has been very, very, very unkind to Edgar Poe, viciously so, in a long tradition which goes back to T.S. Eliot, Adlous Huxley and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Very unfortunate, hardly explainable, but there it is.


          • Mary Douglas said,

            October 14, 2014 at 4:03 pm

            Well, I am sorry to hear that. Edgar Allen Poe is one of the greatest perpetual elegists among the poets of the world and is revered worldwide and inestimable in his influence; who can match his depths and glooms, his ghostly evocations of happier, vanished kingdoms. This is more than eccentric on Harold Bloom’s part. Still, for me it doesn’t take away the joy of discovering Thomas Traherne and others through him. I do remember feeling disappointed in other people he left out from the canon though happy at many included.

            I did notice in my beginners reading on Scarriet that you are (Scarriet) a constant champion of Poe and that is truly also a great and good cause taken up. Valorous. Among the lives of the poets surely one of the most heartbreaking in all aspects.

            • Mary Douglas said,

              October 14, 2014 at 4:30 pm


              to Edgar Allen Poe and those who loved him

              mirage like from a distance stray
              the figments of a happier day
              of kingdoms, kingdoms washed away.

              how maple red the skies appeared above the castles
              always drear your own heart knocking at the doors
              walled on itself and evermore

              all glistening sails with the Adored
              and never returning

              how scorned by critics who can name
              who pierced a troubled heart in shame.
              around the lintels of their fame

              may nothing shine forevermore
              till Time and all its angels show
              above the bitter flying snows

              a presence deepened known as Poe and
              organs swell commemorative:

              a grieving love enshrine.

              mary angela douglas 14 october 2014

              • Mary Douglas said,

                October 14, 2014 at 4:59 pm

                one line added to previous poem: “intemperate as his repose”-

                to Edgar Allen Poe and those who loved him

                mirage like from a distance stray
                the figments of a happier day
                of kingdoms, kingdoms washed away.

                how maple red the skies appeared above the castles
                always drear your own heart knocking at the doors
                walled on itself and evermore

                all glistening sails with the Adored
                and never returning

                how scorned by critics who can name
                who pierced a troubled heart in shame.
                around the lintels of their fame

                may nothing shine forevermore
                till Time and all its angels show
                above the bitter flying snows

                intemperate as his repose
                a presence deepened known as Poe and
                organs swell commemorative:

                a grieving love enshrine.

                mary angela douglas 14 october 2014

                • Mary Douglas said,

                  October 14, 2014 at 5:00 pm

                  lines broke badly in second version due to computer glitch.
                  I will be quiet now. really.

    • Mary Douglas said,

      October 14, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      Re: Andrew’s comment: “Well trimmed words linguistic hedge” is a perfectly delineated phrase to designate so much of poetry now. We have a lot of Bradford pear trees where I live and people invariably prune them back too much leaving them skeletal before Spring. That is what so many poems remind me of now. As far as trimming the hedges I wish we had more “hedges” like those in Tim Burton’s film Edward Scissorhands or like the angel ice sculptures. Letting the grass grow no longer clipping the wings of the birds. Laconic laconic laconic lines. Thank God for Scarriet keeping the Romantics alive and also for Thomas Graves/T. Brady poems written magically in the same vein as the Romantics and yet in current language a rare bloom in the wilderness.

      Regarding “unpoetic nation” I wonder if we have ever been a wildly poetic nation. But the landscape is getting dingier. Sorry for hogging so much comment space. I’m 63 years old with a heart arythmia and my mother died at 66 with the same thing so I’m trying to say as much as I can just in case my time comes earlier than later. Forgive the intrusions if it feels that way.

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