Last Week in Poetry #1: 4/6-4/12, 2009

So I’ve decided to amend my blogging practice to include a recap of five eye-picked poetry posts from the past week, offer a brief discussion of them, and throw in a few photographs for my lexiphobic readers. Enjoy!

1 – Why The Internet Will Revive Poetry

In his post entitled “Who Will Be This Century’s Shakespeare?Allen Taylor suggests that the Internet has the potential to bring people back to poetry. However, because online publishing is still in its infancy, poets still have a lot to learn before they can optimally utilize digital distribution systems.

“Once poets, and other publishers, learn the full scale of what can be accomplished with Internet publishing, you can expect great things that have not yet been imagined. Blogs will be mere baby toys (they almost are now). The comparison can be likened to the difference between Dolby Surround Digital and silent pictures. That’s how far we have to go, but when we get there the poet who can incorporate visual and audio elements effectively with the printed word will capture hearts and minds. The 21st century will discover its William Shakespeare.”

Taylor is certainly onto something – digital distribution systems are “at the early stage of Gutenberg’s Press.” However, advancements in our understanding of DDSs are quite different from the sort of artistic synergy Taylor describes above. The words of poets and storytellers have long been combined with other media – think Prokofiev, Kerouac, and MC Mr. Napkins – in order to help draw a wider and more committed audience. Even William S. himself had his words brought to life by actors. Yes, poets who find broader means of expressing themselves will be more readily received, but I think the advancements in DDS that will really come in handy are based in niche marketing, social networking, and the production of a superior product.


New Jersey, 2005

2 – From the Mouth of Anne Sexton

For the sake of full disclosure, This Recording is the brainchild of a good friend. That said, the poetry coverage at TR is terrific. This week, the blog features Elaine Showalter’s 1974 interview with Anne Sexton and Maxine Kumin. Sexton revolutionized confessional poetry and addressed taboo topics such as abortion, masturbation and adultery. I will cover Sexton in more depth at some point, but in the meantime I recommend this interview.

3 – Synergistic Arts, Take Two

Returning for a moment to the idea of fusing poetry with other media, I’d like to call attention to the Poetry Foundation’s new film series:

“The series, Poetry Everywhere, features videos of poets such as Naomi Shihab Nye and Kevin Young reading their work as well as animated films of poems by Kay Ryan, Nick Flynn, and others. The short films are airing throughout April on public television and can be viewed at, the Poetry Foundation’s Web site, YouTube, and iTunes.”

I’m particularly fond of the animated John Ashbery poem.


Tel Aviv, 2009

4 – The Book of Samuel

Great news for fellow Beckett fans: someone stole a bunch of Samuel’s letters and put them in a book now available for purchase and enjoyment. In his letters, Beckett defends the poetry of Milton and lambastes that of William Cowper:

“I think what you find cold in Milton I find final, for himself at least, conflagrations of conviction cooled down to a finality of literary emission.”

“What a life! It depressed & terrified me. How did [Cowper] ever manage to write such bad poetry?”

5 – I Love Your Writing, But Lose the Face

In case anyone thought that people bought books based on their content and not on how dashing the author looks on the dust jacket, Martha Woodroof’s report on NPR’s Morning Edition will steer you straight.

5a – And One

From the “soft-launched” blog Ebony and Crackers, fellow Mayanot alumnus Jake Appleman describes his own experiences connecting with Black culture as a youth.


Mr. Appleman in Israel, 2009


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