While I understand the struggle(s) to lift all manner of serious art from the margins of hyper-caffeinated, super-digitized, overly socially-networked contemporary life,still I do hold my nose at the notion of Poetry Month (as crass a category as Summer Reading). No doubt there has been a debauched cornucopia of new poetry collections published to coincide with whatever it is that Poetry Month is. Though now that I think it is, is this International Poetry Month or just, you know, a northamericano stroke of genius?
As I admit to limited familiarity and knowledge of the cloistered world of poetry (though I once wrote a truly ignorant epistle on poetry for the esteemed and essential journal Drunken Boat)it is also the case that unlike other subject areas wherein I receive torrents of books and collateral information, such is not the case with poetry. And for those of you who take your poetry seriously (though I have no idea why you would be reading my thoughts on such matters) I should declare my tastes. So you know where I am coming from so-to-speak. I read Jim Harrison, Frank O’Hara, Pablo Neruda. David Ignatow and Ranier Marie Rilke. Here’s a poem from Jim Harrison’s latest collection Searching for Smaller Gods (Copper Canyon Press):
This moment says no to the next.
Now is quite enough for the gathering birds
in the tall willows above the irrigation ditch.
It’s autumn and their intentions are in their blood.
Looking up at these chattering birds I become dizzy
but statistics say old men fall down a lot.
The earth is fairly soft here, so far from the world
of cement where people must live to make a living.
Despite the New Covenant you can’t eat the field’s lilies.
Today I think I see a new cold wind rushing through the air.
Of course I stare up too long because I love cedar waxwings,
their nasalate click and hiss, their cantankerous joy.
I fall and the dogs come running. Mary licks my face.
I tell them that this is a world where falling is best.
Anyway I have three volumes of poetry that I have received recently that being a combined 2000 plus pages should provide utility to wide range of poetic tastes:
The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth-Century American Poetry edited by Rita Dove
The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Italian Poetry: An Anthology edited by Geoffrey Brock
The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry: An Anthology edited by Ilan Stavans
And just to close on a lighter note here is Mark Mentzer’s animation of small chunk of of Allen Ginsberg’s epic Howl
Currently reading Canada by RIchard Ford (Ecco)