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« British Poets, Day Three: The New Seriousness [by Todd Swift] | Main | British Poets, Day Five: The Fabulists [by Todd Swift] »

October 13, 2010


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Thank you for another insightful post.

The phrase "establishment poetry" gives me pause. In the US, the nominees for the National Book Award in poetry were just announced, with the identity of the five judge judges disclosed. You could not easily devise a more anti-establishment tilt to what is, after all, the very epitome of the establishment. The same seems to be true of the Pulitzers. Do these prize committees reflect (and reinforce) the tendency to divide poetry from any constituency other than the academic? Gerald Thomas wrote recently and very aggressively that the "adversarial stance of language-oriented poetry belies its institutional truth." What he is charging, if I understand him correctly, is that beneficiaries of elitism are biting the hand that feeds them while using their own hand to thumb their nose. (How's that for mixing metaphors and cliches?) Just raising the question, wondering what others think -- and, too, whether the US and Britain are alike in this regard.

The ex-miners metaphor by Helen Mort is as smart as it is timely. Has she written a poem about her unusual last name? Death, in France, though in the masculine.

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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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This Way Out

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Ringfinger was nervous
Pinky terrified
when they learned
that Hand might succumb
to the rule of Thumb.



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