Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Poet Laureate on Charlie Rose



Charlie Rose talking with Kay Ryan, poet laureate, and James Billington, librarian of congress.

Billington mentions the great variety in American poetry, and he’s certainly right about that, but then he acts as if the Laureate position has been representing that great variety, especially with his selection of Kay Ryan. He’s wrong. He’s so wrong. He’s so totally wrong.

I don’t want to sit here and criticize this year’s choice (I’m growing bored with myself, and anyway, this is the season for giving), so I’ll just move on to my thesis for the day: Please let next year bring us a really different poet laureate. Maybe whomever is out there whispering in Billington’s ear (now that hopefully Dana Gioia is not doing so) can whisper some more interesting things.

Who would you have be poet laureate next year?

Rae Armantrout would be my choice. (I would put Ashbery forward as well, but I don’t think he’s much for travelling.)

18 Comments:

At 12/16/2008 6:45 AM, Blogger Andrew Shields said...

How about C. Dale Young? Do you think he'd be willing to take time off from his medical career?

 
At 12/16/2008 7:13 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Ha! That would be fun. He would certainly shake things up with his national program of caption contests...

 
At 12/16/2008 7:29 AM, Blogger Penultimatina said...

Dara Wier.

That's my vote.

 
At 12/16/2008 7:52 AM, Blogger Gary L. McDowell said...

Linda Gregerson is my choice. Or Peter Gizzi.

 
At 12/16/2008 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Armantrout as Poet Laureate would be fantastic, in every sense of the word. Gizzi would make a better ambassador, perhaps--though I wonder whether he would take the post. Perhaps he would.

--Eli

 
At 12/16/2008 8:36 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

How about liaison? Might he go for that?

 
At 12/16/2008 8:56 AM, Blogger JeFF Stumpo said...

Mike Topp.

Then have a program where they post his poem(?) "Disappointment" on the entrance to all government buildings.

Maybe we should push forward with the latter anyway...

 
At 12/16/2008 9:25 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

JeFF,

Got the chapbook!

I almost have enough time to start reading it.

 
At 12/16/2008 9:29 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

Well, if you want off the poetry reservation, why not leave the country and ask Anne Carson? That would be hilarious.

My votes: Nate Mackey, Brigit Pegeen Kelly, Frank Bidart (who so wouldn't do it). Derek Walcott?

Though I get that it is an honor, and meant to be bestowed on someone with a nearly complete career, I'd be all for a younger, activist poet.

Olena Kalytiak Davis would be great fun. Doty? And speaking of Dara Weir, how about Tate?

 
At 12/16/2008 10:41 AM, Blogger Justin Evans said...

Yusef Komunyakaa.

Thomas Lux.

Eleanor Rand Wilner.

Linda Pastan.

me. I have to be honest. I'd kick ass and take names! I'd travel and spend my own money to do it. I'd go into every school I could and speak. I'd continue the My favorite Poems Project, get poets to record their own work, and buy an anthology of poems for everyone who came to readings I conducted.

Fuck diversity. We need to get people off their collective asses and connect with each other.

 
At 12/16/2008 11:09 AM, Blogger JeFF Stumpo said...

@John: Awesome. I'll await your thoughts with trepidation.

An odd coincidence - am sorting through books today, after the move to New Hampshire. Found a note in one from a poet to whom I'd send a copy of OcSerp. First paragraph is the usual (but appreciated) praise. Second paragraph is the one that might interest you:

"If you have to teach, for gods' [god's? the apostrophe is hard to place] sake get a discipline x do not get mixed up in the creative writing m[word indecipherable]."

:-P

Hmmmm, verification word: haste.

 
At 12/19/2008 10:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Peter Gizzi! Peter Gizzi! He's awesome!

 
At 12/20/2008 11:12 PM, Blogger Andy Nicholson said...

I'd love to have most of the people already listed, but Rae Armantrout would both be a wonderful choice and (unless you're Billy Collins) is "accessible" enough that even the conservative group that chooses this position should be able to recognize her value. (After all, isn't Oppen recognized by all stripes of poets?)

I'd love to see David Shapiro or Alice Notley be chosen. Either choice would make my year.

 
At 12/22/2008 7:35 AM, Blogger knott said...

(After all, isn't Oppen recognized by all stripes of poets?)

. . . not sure what "recognized" means exactly, but I don't think Oppen is any good——

maybe i fall between all those stripes

 
At 12/22/2008 8:01 AM, Blogger knott said...

if Seth Abramson is right with his estimate that 80 percent of poets are SOQ,

think you'll ever see a non-SOQ laureate?

 
At 12/22/2008 11:25 AM, Blogger knott said...

3 shoo-ins for it:

Elizabeth Alexander
Jane Hirshfield
Claudia Emerson

... incidently, Armantrout's too inaccessible not just for Collins but for me too . . .

 
At 12/22/2008 12:07 PM, Blogger Andrew Christ said...

Lucille Clifton

 
At 12/23/2008 5:41 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Maybe it's time for an inaccessible poet laureate, then. Someone like Armantrout.

I know it'll never happen, but what is the point of having a laureate anyway?

The ones we have fade out of the public imagination quickly enough (and I've liked some of them very much, so I'm not making some grand gesture about the quality of their work), maybe someone a little more aesthetically difficult or inaccessible or edgy or whatever you want to call it would be fun.

My vote (not that I have one) is still with Armantrout.

But I'm pretty certain it'll be Alexander or Emerson. Oh well. But seriously, nothing could be worse than Kooser.

Maybe we really are in the end-times.

Word ver: sunkees

 

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