A few items that are worth reading:
We first got to know Michael Robbins when Robert P. Baird posted about him here. We've been watching and applauding his ascent ever since. Here's an excerpt from a recent column in The Chicago Tribune, where he is a regular. Follow the link below to read his entire piece.
We don't lack for denunciations of the state of American poetry. Mark Edmundson wrote an ill-informed essay on the subject in the July issue of Harper's. To prove his thesis that "contemporary American poets now seem to put all their energy into … the creation of a voice," and to answer his question "What is a poet now?" Edmundson cites not a single contemporary American poet under the age of 59. Think about that for a second.
I happen to find Edmundson's essay particularly galling, since every poem I've ever written puts the lie to one of his more ignorant claims:
Contemporary American poetry speaks its own confined language, not ours. It is, by and large, pure. It does not generally traffic in the icons of pop culture; it doesn't immerse itself in ad-speak, rock lyrics, or politicians' posturing: it gravitates to the obscure, the recondite, the precious, the ancient, trying to get outside the mash of culture that surrounds it.
"Food poems" are hard to get right but Terence Winch succeeds with three poems in this month's Alimentum:
We went out to eat.
It was like walking on eggs.
The waiter spilled the beans
and then we ordered.
I had the sour grapes
with the spilt milk,
which made you cry.
You wanted tough
muffins. How do you
like them apples?
the waiter asked.
He was the apple
of our eye. But every
thing in the end seemed
like small potatoes.
Read "Plums" and "Money, Food, Love" here.
Does Didi Menendez ever sleep? She works tirelessly on behalf of poets and artists and is a poet and artist herself. She recently teamed up with Nin Andrews for an issue of her journal Poets and Artists. You can download it here to read poems by Kelli Russell Agodon, Mark Halliday, Denise Duhamel, Maureen Seaton, Carol Moldaw, and James Needham, among others.
Quote: "You have to know how to hurt your reader." Danielle Pafunda, speaking at last night's Poetry Forum at the New School.
If you have candidates for "Hump Day Highlights," send them to bestampo.com.