YES! ANOTHER SCARRIET POETRY HOT 100!!!

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1. Vanessa Place —The High Creator does not create.

2. Kenneth Goldsmith —Death to the “creative” once and for all.

3. Simon Armitage —Best known for 9/11 poem, wins Oxford Poetry Professorship

4. A.E. Stallings —Lost the Oxford. World is still waiting for a good New Formalist poet.

5. John Ashbery —Doesn’t need to be good. Unlike New Formalists, his content and form agree.

6. Marjorie Perloff —Must confront this question: is the “non-creative” nearly racist by default?

7. Ron Silliman —Keeps tabs on the dying. Burned by the Avant Racism scandal.

8. Stephen Burt —Stephanie goes to Harvard.

9. Rita Dove —We asked her about Perloff; she laughed. No intellectual pretense.

10. Claudia Rankine —Social confrontation as life and death.

11. Juan Felipe Herrera —New U.S. Poet Laureate. MFA from Iowa. Farm workers’ son.

12. William Logan —“Shakespeare, Pope, Milton by fifth grade.” In the Times. He’s trying.

13. Patricia Lockwood —“Rape Joke” went Awl viral.

14. Lawrence Ferlinghetti —At 96, last living Beat.

15. Richard Wilbur —At 94, last living Old Formalist.

16. Don Share —Fuddy-duddy or cutting edge? It’s impossible to tell with Poetry.

17. Valerie Macon —Good poet. Hounded from NC Laureate job for lacking creds.

18. Helen Vendler —New book of essays a New Critical tour de force. Besotted with Ashbery and Graham.

19. Cathy Park Hong —Fighting the racist Avant Garde.

20. David Lehman —As the splintering continues, his BAP seems less and less important.

21. Billy Collins —His gentle historical satire is rhetoric nicely fitted to free verse.

22. David Orr —Common sense critic at the Times.

23. Frank Bidart —Student of Lowell and Bishop, worked with James Franco. Drama. Confessionalism.

24. Kevin Coval —Co-editor of Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.

25. Philip Nikolayev —Globe-trotting translator, editor, poet.

26. Ben Mazer —Neo-Romantic. Has advanced past Hart Crane.

27. Amy KingHates mansplaining. 

28. Sharon Olds —Best living female poet?

29. Louise Gluck —Her stock is quietly rising.

30. Jorie Graham —Her Collected has landed.

31. George Bilgere —If you like Billy Collins…and what’s wrong with that?

32. Garrison Keillor —Is he retiring?

33. Kent Johnson —Is his Prize List so quickly forgotten?

34. David Biespiel —One of the villagers trying to chase Conceptualism out of town.

35. Carol Ann Duffy —The “real” Poet Laureate—she’s Brih-ish.

36. Cate Marvin —Poet who leads the VIDA hordes.

37. Lyn Hejinian —The best Language Poet?

38. Dan ChiassonNew Yorker house critic.

39. Michael Robbins —As with Logan, we vastly prefer the criticism to the poetry.

40. Joe Green —His Selected, The Loneliest Ranger, has been recently published.

41. Harold Bloom —The canonizer.

42. Dana Gioia —The best of New Formalism.

43. Seth Abramson —Meta-Modernism. That dog won’t hunt.

44. Henry Gould —Better at responding than asserting; reflecting the present state of Criticism today.

45. W.S. Merwin —Knew Robert Graves—who recommended mushroom eating (yea, that kind of mushroom) as Oxford Poetry Professor in the 60s.

46. Marilyn Chin —Passionate lyricist of “How I Got That Name.”

47. Anne Carson —“The Glass Essay” is a confessional heartbreak.

48. Terrence Hayes —Already a BAP editor.

49. Timothy Steele —Another New Formalist excellent in theorizing—but too fastidious as a poet.

50. Natasha Trethewey —Was recently U.S. Poet Laureate for two terms.

51. Tony Hoagland —Hasn’t been heard from too much since his tennis poem controversy.

52. Camille Paglia —Aesthetically, she’s too close to Harold Bloom and the New Critics.

53. William Kulik —Kind of the Baudelaire plus Hemingway of American poetry. Interesting, huh?

54. Mary Oliver —Always makes this list, and we always mumble something about “Nature.”

55. Robert Pinsky —He mentored VIDA’s Erin Belieu.

56. Alan Cordle —We will never forget how Foetry.com changed the game.

57. Cole Swensen –A difficult poet’s difficult poet.

58. Charles Bernstein —One day Language Poetry will be seen for what it is: just another clique joking around.

59. Charles Wright —Pulitzer in ’98, Poet Laureate in ’14.

60. Paul Muldoon New Yorker Nights

61. Geoffrey Hill —The very, very difficult school.

62. Derek Walcott —Our time’s Homer?

63. Janet Holmes —Program Era exemplar.

64. Matthew Dickman —The youth get old. Turning 40.

65. Kay Ryan —Are her titles—“A Ball Rolls On A Point”—better than her poems?

66. Laura Kasischke —The aesthetic equivalent of Robert Penn Warren?

67. Nikki Finney —NAACP Image Award

68. Louis Jenkins —His book of poems, Nice Fish, is a play at the American Repertory Theater this winter.

69. Kevin Young —A Stenger Fellow who studied with Brock-Broido and Heaney at Harvard

70. Timothy Donnelly —His Cloud Corporation made a big splash.

71. Heather McHugh —Her 2007 BAP guest editor volume is one of the best.

72. D.A. Powell —Stephen Burt claims he is original and accessible to an extraordinary degree.

73. Eileen Myles —We met her on the now-defunct Blog Harriet Public Form.

74. Richard Howard —Pulitzer-winning essayist, critic, translator and poet

75. Robert Hass —U.S. Poet Laureate in the 90s, a translator of haiku and Milosz.

76. Rae Armantrout —Emily Dickinson of the Avant Garde?

77. Peter Gizzi —His Selected, In Defense of Nothing, came out last year.

78. Fanny Howe —Is it wrong to think everything is sacred? An avant-garde Catholic.

79. Robert Archambeau —His blog is Samizdat. Rhymes with Scarriet.

80. X.J. Kennedy —Keeping the spirit of Frost alive.

81. Robert PolitoPoetry man.

82. David Ferry —Classical poetry translator.

83. Mark Doty —A Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

84. Al Filreis  —Co-founder of PennSound

85. Frederick Seidel —Has been known to rhyme malevolence with benevolence.

86. Sherman Alexie —Is taught in high school. We wonder how many on this list are?

87. Marie Howe —Margaret Atwood selected her first book for a prize.

88. Carol Muske-Dukes —In recent Paris Review interview decried cutting and pasting of “Unoriginal Genius.”

89. Martha Ronk —In the American Hybrid anthology from Norton.

90. Juliana Spahr —Has a PhD from SUNY Buffalo. Hates “capitalism.”

91. Patricia Smith —Four-time winner of the National Poetry Slam.

92. Dean Young —His New & Selected, Bender, was published in 2012.

93. Jennifer Knox —Colloquial and brash.

94. Alicia Ostriker —“When I write a poem, I am crawling into the dark.”

95. Yusef Komunyakaa —Known for his Vietnam poems.

96. Stephen Dunn —His latest work is Lines of Defense: Poems.

97. Thomas Sayer Ellis —Poet and photographer.

98. Carolyn Forche —Lannan Chair in Poetry at Georgetown University.

99. Margaret Atwood —Poet, novelist, and environmental activist.

100. Forrest Gander —The Trace is his latest.

 

 

 

 

 

WELL, DUH.

The following quotes were taken from the “Poetry Foundation’s 15 most-read Poetry Foundation and Poetry magazine articles.”

“America’s poets have a minimal presence in American civic discourse and a minuscule public role in the life of American democracy.”  —David Biespiel (no. 6)

“The most prevalent poetic representation of contemporary experience is the mimesis of disorientation by non sequitur. Just look into any new magazine. The most frequently employed poetic mode is the angular juxtaposition of dissonant data, dictions, and tones, without defining relations between them. The poem of non-parallelism—how things, perceptions, thoughts, and words coexist without connecting—is the red wheelbarrow of Now . . .”   —Tony Hoagland (no. 5)

To write a good poem about an ugly thing, as Seidel does often, is not to write an ugly poem . . .”   —Molly Young  (no.2)

“Since very few non-poets read poetry, it makes sense that our audience is 98 percent poets. And poets are more easily manipulated than most artists. Our art is based on the most subjective of terms—it rises and falls based on nothing tangible. One minute you’re Mark Van Doren, the most important poet in the world. The next you’re Yvor Winters, mostly forgotten.”   —Jim Behrle  (no. 1)

No suprise these sentiments (which by now are truims) on the zeitgeist of American poetry were the most-read.

Yup:

poets have minimal presence 

disorientation by non sequitur

ugly poem

our audience is 98 percent poets

The most-read Poetry Foundation sentiments of 2010:

Tiny, incestuous, impotent enclave of poets reading non sequitur, hoping against hope that a good poem on ugly isn’t ugly.

 

STEPHEN BURT IN IVORY TOWER: “I HAVE MADE TELEPHONE CALLS.”

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Stephen Burt’s ill-tempered reply to David Biespiel’s call for poets to participate more in life outside the ivory tower is a stark example of how far our faith in poetry has fallen.

Burt is about as far away from Shelley’s “A Defense of Poetry” as one can get:

“Writers who overemphasize the power of poetry in particular, or the power of rhetoric in general, [Burt writes] to solve public problems risk underemphasizing the power of facts…”

Can you imagine Shelley saying that we “risk underemphasizing the power of facts…”?

But, never mind Shelley, why would anyone indulge in such tepid rhetoric, the limpness of which is downright embarrassing?

First of all, Burt’s reasoning is hopelessly circular: what about the “risk” of “overemphasizing facts” and thus “underemphasizing poetry?”

Secondly, since when did poetry imply a hatred of facts? Why is Burt preaching this red herring?

If Burt is saying not all poets are good enough to bring their sensibilities as poets into other areas of life, he is certainly making a very good case for himself. The art of rhetoric seems to elude him.

A clue to Burt’s wretched pessimism might be gleaned if we examine this again: “Writers who overemphasize the power of poetry in particular, or the power of rhetoric in general…”

Unlike the soaring Shelley, Burt is unable to reconcile “poetry in particular” with “rhetoric in general.”

It’s really no wonder, then, that Burt finally takes Biespiel’s essay personally, and Burt defends himself thus:

“I have made telephone calls or knocked on doors for at least one Democrat in nearly every election (including Congressional midterms and the St. Paul, Minnesota, city council) since 2000.  That volunteer work led me to write poems I would not otherwise have written.  But those poems did not do much to unite America, elect progressive officials, or fight climate change; I hope that they will last because some people like them (though the odds are long).”

Burt can find millions of examples (not just his own) in which “poems” do not “fight climate change.”

But isn’t this precisely what Biespiel is saying:  that we ought to bring poetry in all its aspects more into contact with public life?  Burt is attempting to refute Biespiel’s solution by merely pointing out the problem—which suggests the solution!

Burt assumes writing a poem requires a very narrow set of skills that has very little to do with solving larger problems of life, but this is the sort of thinking which naturally takes root in an ivory tower.  By taking this view, professor Burt, successor to Helen Vendler, can forever ‘prove’ that poetry has little to do with life, and with a certain smug satisfaction, tell Biespiel to be on his way.

We know the qualities shared by some poets and outstanding citizens: wit, imagination, curiosity, boldness, vision, ingenuity, and erudition.  What is wrong with wanting to spread these qualities around?   If Burt is correct, and none of these qualites in the poet pertain anywhere else, we probably ought to ignore Biespiel and, at the same time, stop reading poems.

Biespiel’s exhortation may be quixotic, but only if we submit to a very limited and limiting notion of poetry.   We could, in response to Biespiel’s suggestion—which may come down to: how do we make poetry respectable in the public square again—smile, nod, and agree in a helpless sort of way, but Burt’s bitter attack: where does that come from?  Is it because Burt is saying, in essence, “How dare you try and make poetry respectable!  That’s not its purpose!”    Does Burt really feel there are no Shellean qualites shared by poets and exceptional human beings?   How can one argue, as Burt does, against such an assertion, when Shelley has almost singlehandedly made it a truism?  Does Burt believe that a poet must have a certain cramped, dwarfish nature in order to write poems, and is Burt really making, with eyes wide open, this sweeping and negative assertion against Biespiel’s hopeful, simple and general good?

I hope not.  But it sure looks that way.

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