Statement of Philosophy

A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Review: Poetry Magazine (Oct. 2015) – Part VII: Christine Gosnay, Claudia Emerson, James Longenbach

The October 2015 issue of Poetry Magazine can be found here.

links to individual texts:
Christine Gosnay, "Listening to Townes Van Zandt"
James Longenbach, "Arcadia"
— headers to the sections are also links to the texts


the other posts in this series


facts, fragments, and realism


– some editing, and added footnote, Apr. 4, 2016


This entry into the continuing review of Poetry Magazine's October last issue picks up the next three writers in the table of contents: the one work by Christine Gosnay ("Listening to Townes Van Zandt"), the works by Claudia Emerson, and the one work by James Longenbach ("Arcadia"). Only, I will stand aside from addressing the Claudia Emerson poems because there is too great a possibility that their inclusion in this issue of Poetry is due primarily to her death in 2014.

The central purpose of this series is the exploration of what Poetry Magazine publishes, with the guiding question being, 'What is the value of a journal that publishes mostly bad or at best mediocre verse?', and an implied question of "What does that mean for the state of the culture of poetry in the U.S. today?" Because of the too likely cause of the inclusion of these works (there being five of them), comment upon them would lie outside the scope and purpose of this series. As such, I will only limit myself to the general comment that more than once, before I would recognize her name, I had come across a verse of hers that would pique my interest enough to see if there was something more promising to be found. Never was that something found. To the positive, for what I have seen, her verse tends to be free of the sloppiness often seen in published verse. Though, I nonetheless consider her verse to sit quite solidly within the bounds of pop verse, being nothing exceptional. Generally, if someone is the poet laureate of a state nowaday, such will be the case. Though, that probably says far less about the culture of literature in the U.S. than it does about the position known as "poet laureate" as it functions in the U.S. I can easily see a running joke in a Woody Allen film about a writer character being thrown into existential crisis because they were appointed poet laureate of their state and of what that appointment implied as to the nature and sophistication of their work.