Teicher's 2012 Poetry Preview
Not Your Parents' Poems: A 2012 Poetry Preview
by Craig Morgan Teicher
Here’s his list of some promising upcoming titles:
Lucille Clifton - The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton
D. A. Powell – Useless Landscape, or a Guide for Boys
Jorie Graham – Place / New Poems
Dante Alighieri, Mary Jo Bang and Henrik Drescher – Inferno / A New Translation
Jack Gilbert - Collected Poems
Lyn Hejinian - The Book of a Thousand Eyes
James Tate – The Eternal Ones of the Dream: Selected Poems 1990 - 2010
Lucia Perillo – On the Spectrum of Possible Deaths
Oni Buchanan – Must A Violence
Cathy Park Hong – Engine Empire
Paisley Rekdal – Animal Eye
Hayden Carruth – Last Poems
I like lists. And what I like especially about this list is that it’s one of the more aesthetically inclusive lists I’ve seen. From Clifton to Powell to Hejinian to Perillo and Carruth. I wish all of our lists (mine included) were so wide-ranging. And the fact that this appears on the NPR website is a healthy sign for poetry.
Of these poets, a couple notes from me:
I’ve seen bits of the Mary Jo Bang translation, and I’m as excited about seeing the whole thing as I’ve ever been to see a new book. It’s going to have some people very upset. It’s going to be condemned in some circles for its “looseness,” but from what I’ve seen so far (three cantos, one of which I’m publishing in The Laurel Review with the accompanying illustration from Henrik Drescher), I’m going to like it a lot.
Lucille Clifton – I didn’t pay all that much attention to her work until after her death. All I was aware of was her most accessible, or popular work, but after her death I heard a poem of hers read that I liked, so I looked her work up to find there was more to find in it than I previously had found.
Powell and Hejinian and Buchanan are always interesting, so I’m looking forward to them.
Graham and Tate. I used to read them and talk about them as much as any other poetry, but I’ve gone back to their new books less often than their older ones (The Rolling Stones Syndrome, it’s called). I’m always hopeful that this will be the book where Graham gets it back, so I’m going to buy it, as I’ve bought all the others. And Tate. Mostly what I’ve thought and heard is that Tate just needed to edit his collections (and story-poems) down. As a selected, this should do the first. Maybe that will be enough to make this the definitive collection of his recent work.
One of the issues that came up several times last year on this blog (and other places) is the issue of trying to describe the “period style.” I’m continually interested in what people see as our common currency. Here’s how Teicher describes it, or a part of it:
“Today's average poem (if there is such a thing) takes us to the frontiers of language, borrowing from Twitter memes to overheard conversation, from the classics to bad movies.”
I’m more of the opinion that there isn’t such a thing as “today’s average poem,” but this bit from Teicher does nod to a kind of jumpy (SKITTERY!) attitude that a lot of poems share. It’s true, a lot of poems are more interested in juxtaposition to create meaning than they are direct, focused meditation, from more centrist poets like Albert Goldbarth and Bob Hicok to the innovative or experimental poets like Hejinian, but again, that’s not a complete, across the board, description. It’s interesting to note, though, as we’re all wanting glimpses of how the future will describe us, because if we can imagine how the future will describe us, that means the future will remember us, and it’s comforting to imagine we’ll be remembered.