As Part of a class in my MFA program titled Literature for Writers, Professor Janet Peery asked for a final project interrogating our semester-long study of our choice of writer. At the beginning of the seminar, I chose Wallace Stevens as a poet I should probably know more about, as my encounters with him have been few and far between.
After attempting several different projects, including a couple of essays, I decided to go a little more playful: bring Stevens into contemporary America and see what happens. The posts included under this category are the results.
Many of the readers who end up at this blog do so by searching Google with the phrase “idealism in poetry” or something similar. While I think the overall contents of the blog offer my thoughts on the topic, I am sure that many of these searchers are looking for research for their undergraduate or high school papers. This post will offer some reflection on the concept in general, but I would like to also point them toward the recently updated “plagiarism note” in the right column. Your teacher/professor will recognize a voice other than yours, and drop text into Google to figure out where it came from. Then you will fail the paper, if not the course. Be forewarned.
Richard Hugo continues the sentence in one of the most powerful essays of The Triggering Town by writing, “but it would be honest and I would like it because it wouldn’t be any tougher than the human heart needs to be” (96). “Ci Vediamo” barely resembles other essays in the collection, with very little direct advice, but instead reflects on Hugo’s return to the little Italian town where he was stationed in WWII. Despite not directly conveying advice to writers, Hugo imbues the essay with a well-modulated experience which brings the reader to tears with the author at the end. This control of modulation offers enough to study in itself, though this response is not the appropriate place. Instead, this essay will examine the way “Ci Vediamo” and other essays in Hugo’s collection urge the reader toward an honesty and openness which leads to better poems.
Oliver de la Paz’s collection, Requiem for the Orchard, relies on two organizing threads throughout. Those are the “Requiem” poems, which originally appeared as one extended poem in Guernica Magazine, and the “Self-Portrait” poems which appeared in various places. De la Paz confronts the construction and obfuscation of identity and self through these two threads of interrogation, and it is important that the collection resolves with the two threads together. Continue reading →
How does one write poetry about grief, or heartache? Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl” and “Kaddish” might be one approach, but it is a rare poet who can operate in the verse-libre and still convey the absolute misery without devolving into melodrama. Many poets resort to form, which forces a constraint upon poems. In the case of Ashley Anna McHugh, the constraint of form has allowed her to explore loss in great detail. Continue reading →
As othersecond–generationimmigrant writers, Chin-In Chen addresses the American experience from a position of both belonging and not-belonging, which is clearly evident in her collection The Heart’s Traffic. The collection crosses embodies boundary-crossing beyond the typical use of plot (though that is present as well), and results in a comingled impression of life from the perspective of an immigrant and her family. As with many poetry collections, the evidence of the collection’s conceptual identity (in this case, border-crossing and existing in multiple realities concurrently) presents initially with the cover of the book. However, the reader will notice quickly that Chen’s collection follows through with these concepts in nearly every poem. Continue reading →
So many submissions come in to the literary magazine I help staff – a relatively new literary magazine – that examining the framework of a “successful submission” becomes a lesson in self-reflection. From my experience working on various literary journals, the submissions that find a way through the editorial process have similar characteristics, even though the journal, the editors, and the submissions may be vastly different. For the most part, this framework can relate across different literary journals with different scopes as well. At the broadest level, I see the framework resting upon awareness. Continue reading →
It’s a Sisyphean task, taking the responsibility to convey all the movement and humanity that Cynthia Marie Hoffman attempts in Sightseer. There are so many things one must choose to leave out, and it is the left out which compels in her collection. How many collections worth of material was she able to mine from these excursions, to bring back to us in the new history side of the world? And will she find herself written into a corner if she keeps exploiting them, or like a responsible miner, shut the mineshaft down? Despite all of what was left out, the keen gaze Hoffman exerts on her chosen subjects, many of them religious artifacts, asks the reader to step past the gate and down to the below surface as in the poem “On the Western Coast of Anglesey, the Tourists” (59-60) while at the same time requesting the assertion of gaze at those two women on the beach in their hiking boots.