Help Me Find Poets

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?

The New Sincerity Movement in Poetry

The very existence of a new sincerity movement has sparked some interesting reflection in my mind. First, I think of poets whose sincerity and focus on beauty predate this moniker: Mary Oliver, Denise Levertov, B.H. Fairchild. Clearly, there has been no lack of sincerity in poetry even during the darkest hours of the postmodern period. Yet the idea of a movement, a rallying point for change, is perhaps the most “new” component of this approach.
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B.H. Fairchild: “Old Men Playing Basketball”

Read the poem (scroll down to “Old Men Playing Basketball” at the bottom of the page)

What is so great about this poet is that he demonstrates masterful observation and insight in to the poetic musicality of mundane subjects. What is so great about this poem is that it is an excellent demonstration of Fairchild’s gift — usually applied to blue collar work — in this case applied to basketball.

Fairchild chooses moments from the language of basketball: “pick and roll”, “fake and drive” as well as shows precise details about the “old men” from the VFW that in themselves give insight into their character without having to explain much: “army fatigues”, “house shoes”, memories of drive-in theaters. This is one of the great paradoxes of art: that specificity creates universality.

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