Monday, July 26, 2010

Paris Review Purging

This site provides a great account of the injustices that have recently been strung around the new editors of The Paris Review after they "de-accepted" much of the forthcoming poetry section. Now, I've never attempted to submit to The Paris Review due to its level of pomp and regard, and my exact lack of such things. However, it seems inevitable that any poet who dares enter into the "accomplished poet" bracket from the lesser "up and coming poet" bracket will submit to The Paris Review. Hell, were I to dare the fates and enter into the "up and coming poet" bracket from my current "fresh out of the MFA-world/young grasshopper poet" bracket, The Paris Review would be first on my list, and I'd only have my fingers crossed for the more amicable boilerplate rejection note. If then my fate-tempting submission were returned with the stamp of acceptance, I would probably be beaming out of gratitude for years. Seriously, years. To call The Paris Review the creme de la creme of literary journals does not suggest enough what honor would be felt to be accepted into that league of writers of whom even non-readers of poetry and fiction can at least recognize names.

A few months ago, I would have told you that being accepted to such a storied journal is probably one of the most unique feelings one can have to a literary journal. Now I'm pretty sure the most unique feeling one can have towards such a reputable journal is being accepted and then de-accepted a year later. The level of mistrust and even betrayal I would harbor in my sinking heart would be unreal. In fact, the lack of respect these editors have for—I'm going to go on a sturdy limb here—talented writers boils my blood almost enough to not want to submit work there under this editorship. This, though, doesn't mean anything to anybody that isn't me.

Which brings me to my point: this is not going to hurt The Paris Review, despicable as the act of rescinding may be. They will continue to ride on their top-tiered reputation and this unsavory exposure will most likely fade. Unless The Paris Review, under Lorin Stein's editorial eye, begins to considerably fall down some notches in prestige and innovation. Even then though, the elite name will keep the journal afloat for some time before the readership is seriously injured as a result. It may even create an even larger readership with the recent controversy. Chances are, the writers who have been victim to the superseding will be more than just fine.

Friday, July 16, 2010

News! Wow!

The Generative will be interviewing poet and essayist Anna Journey!!!

Anna Journey, whom I made note of rather meritoriously in my last post about ballin' titles, is stellar and I'm very excited to pick her brain.

Here's a sample of her work, from the collection If Birds Gather Your Hair For Nesting:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

I have been seriously slacking with you, blog. I've been treating you like that dear friend I so badly want to get together with, but then cannot pierce the membrane of fatigue and blase enough to heed to my social urges. I've also been working on my poetry collection, and as it sits on my escritoire nameless (and yes, I have an escritoire), I've been thinking about the titles of successful collections that have come out in the past twenty years. It seems I can't escape the urge to be precious, even when I make a conscious effort to avoid it. I at first thought to name my collection something bold, something wild, something wholly subject and definitive; naturally then, a title with a definite article would allude to that occult panache, that surrounding talisman, that American gothic that so defines a book about haunting artifacts and desiccated kingdoms. However, upon turning it into my thesis class, I felt immediately self conscious and knew that my title (which will not be disclosed here or anywhere ever unless I make it in this world and it then becomes a thing I and all of my cohort can chortle at with retrospective ceremony and understanding for the next generation of writers) would carry little more than the lifespan of an inside joke.

Titles that successfully descry the mysteries of their books with "The ______" are rare gems in this world. Let's play around with those successful poets who in kind have successful titles that earn this construction.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

World Wide Whitman, or That Cat Had Some Wit, Man.

In a NYTimes article by inimitable critic Helen Vendler called "Singing the Poet Electric," Vendler is part ingratiating and part on a mission to correct poet C. K. Williams in his quest to eulogize Walt Whitman in a second book of the series Writers on Writers, put out by Princeton University Press. The book, while simply called On Whitman , doesn't take such a simple stance, according to Vendler. Nay, Williams, who is writing a rather touched kind of prose, ascribes Whitman to something of a, as Vendler calls it, "patron" to the 60s revolution and subsequently, the Beat generation.

One is left to wonder whether this quintessentially 19th-century American poet would be tickled to be the fearless bearded leader of our century's sordid revolutions. Vendler has her doubts, and so do I.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Nerding Out Fridays

Yesterday I decided I would commit to reading all of T. S. Eliot's essays; it however occurred to me that my reference point for all of the Spanish tragedies and even Elizabethan tragedies is, how do you say, lacking. It could be that I am not yet of a status where esoteric knowledge comes as a easily as a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Nay, instead, I merely salivate at the D-I-Y magic kits made tantalizing by clever infomercials—or to snuff out this measly metaphor, there is something of a pomp sans circumstance to being limited as a reader. I try and follow, can't, but then find myself furiously underlining an idea regardless, an idea that stands glimmering in its abstract gooeyness. After a diatribe about Elizabethan and Jacobean poetry in the essay "Rhetoric" and Poetic Drama , Eliot says, "At the present time there is a manifest preference for the 'conversational' in poetry—the style of 'direct speech,' opposed to the 'oratorical' and the rhetorical; but if rhetoric is any convention of writing inappropriately applied, this conversational style can and does become a rhetoric—" These moments are head-wrappable, in the sense that this remains applicable to an audience interested in the evolutionary tract of literature, even if that interest comes with a certain lack of resources. One can see that designations of device and even tautologies are malleable, appropriated based on the current temperament of the scene.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

W.S. Mer-WIN!

W. S. Merwin to be named 17th Poet Laureate of the United States! Breaking from his edenic reclusion of Maui to be our new legislature of the world sounds about as fun as, well, returning to an office job after basking indefinitely in Maui. In a NY Times article, he seemed a mix of reluctant and deprecating when he said, "I can’t keep popping back and forth between here and Washington." And yet, he does relish "being part of something much more public and talking too much." O ye poets, how I love thee wry jabs.

Read more from this article here!