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August 03, 2009

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Thank you for following up on this fertile theme - and for posting "The Poet's Occasional Alternative." The pleasures of Grace Paley's prose are many, but even some fans don't realize what fine, moving poems she wrote. I wonder whether the parallel in verse to a self-portrait is really a poem about poetry. The self is a bigger, better, more tempting and more treacherous subject than the poem, unless the poem is a stand-in for the self, in which case we're back where we started. (And as Gertrude Stein wrote, the world just went on being round.)

The second paragraph brought up a lot of associations for me. Seems a lot is expected of poets that isn't expected of other artists. (That they'll write "political" poems comes to mind.) If writing about poetry results in a good poem, or in the poet getting to the next poem that's a good poem, what's the big deal? Why does there have to be "shoulds" in subject matter? The Paley poem is wonderful. I heard her read once and always hear her wonderful voice when I come across something of hers.

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