Poem in PoetryBay Online

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I just discovered that one of my poems is now available in the Fall 2009 issue of PoetryBay Online. This issue is loaded with good poems from wonderful poets from the Pacific University MFA program — like my illustrious colleague and alumna pal Michelle Bitting, the ever-stunning Ellen Bass, tough-and-tender Dorianne Laux, and my esteemed former faculty advisers Joe Millar and Marvin Bell. Not to mention Robert Bly, Kim Stafford, Lyn Lifshin, and Nick Carbó — the list goes on. As online journals go, this one is a heavyweight, and I feel lucky to appear in such good company. Enjoy!

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Thank Heavens for the Iconoclast

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“You just go on your nerve.”

-Frank O’Hara, “Personism”

Dorianne Laux took a pin to our significant, pastoral, first-person confessional, lyrical, serious, West-coast bubble with a great talk on Frank O’Hara. She read several of his poems and traced the influence of finding universality in absurdity through to such contemporary poets as Tony Hoagland and Charles Simic. The progression from the whimsical to the profound, through a conversational, person-to-person address, has had a significant influence on contemporary poetry. More importantly, it refreshes the language and encourages us writers to begin with a vital aspect of the creative process: not taking ourselves so seriously. It reminds me of the liberated-yet-practical turn of mind expressed by Marvin Bell, that, “on the one hand, it’s poetry! On the other, it’s just poetry.” Thanks heavens for the iconoclast.

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Help Me Find Poets

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When I was writing technical articles regularly, my blog was an invaluable tool. I could float ideas to a global audience and get great feedback that would help shape my thoughts before my writing went to press and international distribution. Given I have enjoyed dialog with a number of readers and writers whose poetic sensibilities seem similar to my own (Nick, Pearl, Michael, Collin, Carol and Jenni just to name a few), and given Pandora For Poetry doesn’t exist yet, I thought I might likewise solicit feedback on part of my reading list for my upcoming semester at Pacific. Here’s what I have so far:

  • B.H. Fairchild, Early Occult Memory Systems…
  • Robert Wrigley, In The Bank Of Beautiful Sins
  • Gregory Orr, Concerning the Book that is the Body…
  • Renate Wood, The Patience Of Ice
  • Li-Young Lee, The Winged Seed
  • Louise Glück, Ararat
  • Dorianne Laux, What We Carry
  • Joseph Millar, Fortune
  • Joan Aleshire, This Far

As well as a number of books (at least one each) from faculty members with whose work I am less familiar. I strongly suspect I will really like those books as well, but the ones above are an even stronger suspicion based on previous experience with the author.

So, given that list, what else would you recommend? Or do you think some other book by one of the above authors is stronger, or more in line with the rest? Or, if you’ve been following my blog for awhile and think you know what I like, what else might you recommend that has nothing to do with the above list, but still is something you think would inform my study of poetry? Or what do you like, that doesn’t have anything to do with what I might like, that you still think I just have to read?

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