I did it--I survived my first semester in the Pacific University MFA program. Actually, I thrived. Some days, the prospect of reading and writing at this level is what kept getting me out of bed in the morning. Joe's insights into my work have been outstanding, and I have fallen in love with poets like Li-Young Lee and Louise Glück. Grief and loss have been major themes in my work this year, and to that end I am looking closely at the tradition of elegy and the contemporary relationship to the timeless theme of loss.
So, here are some of the books that have surfaced--I would love any thoughts, suggestions or tips on other potential authors in this vein, great poets tackling the timeless theme of loss, scholarship in that regard--anything you care to throw out there. The books:
Max Cavitch, Ed. American Elegy: The Poetry of Mourning from the Puritans to Whitman
Jahan Ramazani, Ed. Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney
Louise Glück Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry
Kim Addonizo and Dorianne Laux The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry
Stephen Dobyns Best Words Best Order
Zbigniew Herbert The Collected Poems: 1956-1998
Adam Zagajewski Mysticism for Beginners
Charles Simic Selected Poems: 1963-2004
Li-Young Lee Book of My Nights
James Wright Above the River--the Complete Poems
Stanley Kunitz Passing Through
Jack Gilbert The Great Fires
Linda Gregg Too Bright to See & Alma
Adrienne Rich Diving into the Wreck
Adrienne Rich Atlas for the Difficult World
Marvin Bell The Book of the Dead Man
Edward Kamau Brathwaite Born to Slow Horses
Obviously, not all of these are about elegy--a lot is about filling the gap in my education between a decent background in pre-Modernist poetry from my undergrad. days, and my voracious intent to bone up on contemporary poets.
Here's to the wisdom of poetic crowds--long may it not be an oxymoron! Discuss.