On Tuesday February 5, Katha Pollitt took part in a New School poetry forum (at which the poet reads for a half hour, then fields questions from the moderator and audience for an equal length of time). The first eight poems Katha read were inspired by passages or stories in the Bible, four from the Torah and four from the New Testament. She led off with "The Expulsion" about the disastrous events described in Genesis 3. The poems are from a new collection entitled "The Mind / Body Problem," slated for publication in March 2009. To the inevitable question of why she read no political or anti-war poems, Pollitt replied that she observes a distinction between poems and essays -- they they differ in kind, purpose, and structure; that poems are not the most efficient means of persuasion; and that, sad to say, most anti-war poems seem more intent on advertising the author's moral superiority than anything else.
Word has it that the poet Bill Zavatsky, who devoted an issue of his literary magazine Roy Rogers to one-line poems way back when, is editing the definitive anthology of the form. Bill, are one-line novels eligible? Check out Bill's fine "Ode to the Maker of odes" (i.e. Pablo Neruda) in the current Hanging Loose.
Couplet of the day: from Love Me Tonight with Maurice Chevalier (music Richard Rodgers, lyrics Lorenz Hart). The name Cohen is pronounced in two syllables:
"Bonjour, Monsieur Cohen. / How are things go-en?"
True or false: "Pronouns in poetry function as unknowns do in algebra."
A little known fact is that Samuel Taylor Coleridge, upon leaving Cambridge, signed up for the cavalry under the name Silas Tomkyn Comberback, but didn't last, because of a tendency to fall off his horse. One reason he remained popular with his comrades in arms is that he wrote their love letters for them.