Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm not working on anything

Over at Paper Cuts a whimsical interview with Kay Ryan. Gorgeous stuff.


Meanwhile over at the Poetry Foundation, Paisley Rekdal has a fun piece about trying to read five books of poetry a week.

Personally, I think five books a week is overdoing it a little - I probably average more like 3-4.

Part of the problem, of course, is that 'poetry book' is such a vague term - there's clearly a big difference between reading the collected works of a major poet and reading a new 70-page collection by someone you happened to pick up because you like the Press they were published by.

Plus there's the question of what 'reading' a book means. I probably sample five books of poetry a week, but I'll usually end up abandoning two of them half way because they just don't work for me, and skimming through another two - spending time on the half dozen poems that catch my eye, and just glancing over the rest (somewhat in the way Stephen Burt suggests here). There's maybe one book a week, if that, that I'll really read with anything approaching the kind of attention to each poem that poetry really demands.


Am currently reading the Best American Poetry 2007. Some interesting poems, and some really terrible ones. I quite enjoy the BAP series, but I can't help feeling that 'Best' is a serious overstatement. Frankly, I'm not convinced that you couldn't do a random draw of poems from the journals typically featured in the BAP (for relevant statistics see here) and not end up with a collection just as compelling. And that's without even getting into the loaded question of whether those journals really represent the 'best' poetry being written today.


equivocal said...

As I mentioned over at the Poetry Foundation blog, I once heard John Ashbery (in conversation with David Lehman) say, "Well, I don't think it should be called the Best American Poetry. It should be called 'Some Ok Poems of the Year'. In fact," [Ashbery chuckles and turns to Lehman] "in fact, why don't you call it that?"

Lehman looked sternly on.

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