Essay by Kevin Craft for Poetry Northwest’s Land/Form Series
Events featuring David Hernandez, Camille Dungy, Erika Meitner, Geffrey Davis, Keetje Kuipers, Leila Chatti, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Sierra Nelson, Supritha Rajan, Troy Jollimore, Sierra Nelson, Kary Wayson, Wendy Willis, David Biespiel, Heather Altfeld, Laura Read, Zach Savich, and more
Kevin Craft (Editor 2010 – 2016) Signs Off Most poetry readers I know chuckle wearily at the steady stream of “poetry is dead” articles that have appeared with astonishing tenacity in various venues, including The New York Times, these past few years. The authors of these articles agonize in some way or another over poetry’s irrelevance to modern culture: poetry is too abstract and obscure, they argue, too much an insider’s game, divorced from the real wants and needs (to borrow a phrase from Whitman’s early review of Keats’s poems) of actual bodies in the 21st century. But why should poetry worry over its relationship to popular culture? Must it be popular (or topical) in order to be vital, in order to sustain a reader, or fortify a readership? What happens to those who win (or live by) popularity contests in the contemporary cultural grind? We know all too well that the speed of the attention-getting news cycle is debilitating. Presidential primaries come and go, talk radio blathers on, discourse hardens, partisans lob grenades …
NOTABLE BOOKS 2012 Christine Deavel’s Woodnote (Bear Star Press, 2011) is a remarkable book—a book about, among other things, the legacy of books. In vision, and as a physical object, it is a mindful handful: a big square picture window of a book, drawing together many styles. In five sections we encounter an acute, discerning lyricism (“Hidden / as a toy balloon in the sky is / and is not”), personal essay (“But to walk through it, to walk through the snow as it falls, is to walk through another’s memory, even if it is only the land’s”), excerpts of historical records (“The cessions are as follows: / … The December end of the portage place. / Also the overlapping voice of all the lakes”), and, importantly, selections from the diaries of a relative (“A gloomy day :: a delightful day :: A heavy frost but nice day”) who died the year the poet was born. The cumulative effect of these styles is astounding. Piece by piece, in palimpsest, an image emerges, both vibrant and …
Kevin Craft discusses Poetry Northwest, past, present, and future
The next print edition of Poetry Northwest will be the spring-summer issue, due in April 2010. Until then, in addition to our regular monthly highlights from the most recent issue (see Natasha Trethewey’s “Mexico,” for instance), we are publishing new poems by poets we admire as a countdown to and preview of our back-in-Seattle debut. In January, we featured Eric McHenry’s “New Year’s Letter to All the Friends I’ve Estranged by Not Writing.” February gave us “Hall of Sea Nettles,” a new poem by Paisley Rekdal, rich in sinuous assonance and shifting, sharp-eyed imagery. You can expect to see more poems by Paisley Rekdal in the spring-summer issue to come. Now, on the threshold of our new issue, we are pleased to present Marvin Bell’s “The Book of the Dead Man (The Northwest).” The Dead Man has been a stalwart of Amercian letters since his debut in 1994. His resurrection here is sure sign that spring is upon us again. ~~~
Sometimes a little captive wandering is just what an established tradition needs.
One could hold up a leaf as a fine example of yellow’s / exacting workmanship.