Reginald Shepherd - One Art
Reginald Shepherd is a one-man publishing empire these days. And wonderfully so for the rest of us. I picked up his excellent (OK, I’m only a quarter of the way through it, but I’ve signed up) brand-new book Fata Morgana, at AWP, and his book of essays is in the publication process, and now this essay is available to all of us, for a week, at Poetry Daily. This is one of the best statements on the art of poetry in our time that I've yet come across. Give it a read. Share it with John Barr:
“Dominated by the twin poles of earnestly mundane anecdote and blank-eyed, knee-jerk irony, much contemporary American poetry is embarrassed by passion, by large gestures, and by major aspirations, as if they were immodest at best, dishonest at worst. As Jorie Graham has said in an interview with critic Thomas Gardner, "we have been handed down by much of the generation after the modernists – by their strictly secular sense of reality (domestic, confessional), as well as by their unquestioned relationship to the act of representation – an almost untenably narrow notion of what [poetry] is capable of." This inheritance still dominates the poetic mainstream, despite the many and diverse openings of the field since then. American poetry still tends to dismiss or ignore those possibilities which cannot be neatly packaged and contained. Among poets who reject the mainstream mode that Graham describes, including those who see themselves as experimental or even "oppositional," too many retreat into easy, evasive sarcasm and tidy, self-congratulatory ironies. (Joshua Corey calls this "phrases meeting cute").”
Read the whole essay, from Pleiades:Reginald Shepherd's "One State of the Art"