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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Friday, March 11, 2016

Review: Poetry Magazine (Oct. 2015) – Part VIII: Quickly Now, Through the Rest

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

links to individual texts:
Camille T. Dungy, "Frequently Asked Questions: 10"
Maceo J. Whitaker, "Evanescent Hesse"
Maceo J. Whitaker, "Thor and Saturn's Tête-à-tête"
Maceo J. Whitaker, "The Mad Man from Macon"
Catherine Staples, "Vert"
Thomás Q. Morín, "Salad Days"
Julian Stannard, "Donut"
Jessica Greenbaum, "Green Permanent"
Jennifer Chang, "A Horse Named Never"
Hailey Leithauser, "Arrhythmia"
Susan Elizabeth Howe, "What Is a Grackle?"
Susan Elizabeth Howe, "Advice from the Grackle"
— headers to the sections are also links to the texts


the other posts in this series


more on moments, less on wholes


– minor changes to one section, Mar. 12, 2016
– minor editing, Apr. 4, 2016


As complained in the last post in this series, I have grown tired of this endeavor. But, then, a person should only be expected to be able to take so much slogging through bad writing. Up to this point I have been able to use the series to talk about aspects of writing and reading verse in general; and, I did begin a new post in that vein. However, it was not long in the writing before that post began to feel too repetitive of what has come before to justify its existence. The project has to me become the equivalent of explaining why a poorly written novel is a poorly written novel, moving chapter to chapter through the whole of the book. The demonstration should need only one chapter.

Obviously, this is not a book by a single author, so some effort will have to be made beyond the first 'chapter.' It is however a volume by a single editor or editorial staff. Yet, now more than half way through, I believe it still safe to say that the general quality of the works selected, and thus the quality of the work of that editorial staff, has both been demonstrated and demonstrated as consistent. Whether one author or many, this is a volume mostly of bad writing; and, at this point there is no reason to believe that it is going to get any better. In fact, it is, but for a couple or three works, so bad a collection that for a discriminating reader it would have taken a much smaller sampling to close the volume. Yes, if there was a gem hiding in the slough . . . . except there is no reason to expect a gem in the slough. There is rather every reason to believe the editorial staff would not be able to recognize a gem when they came upon one. Indeed, it is quite natural to expect that any of the gems that came their way would have been rejected as too different from everything else.

So, I am going to bring this project to a close in two posts. In the first, this post, I am going to very quickly run through the rest of the works, limiting myself to but a comment or three, focusing on interesting points. I will not go into the quality of the works beyond quick comment: they are for the most part as bad writing as that which has proceeded them. I would hope that going through the previous posts any reader would by now be able to see for themselves in the works not yet discussed some measure of their faults. The next post, the final, will be conclusory in nature, something not based on any of the containing works but based on the project as a whole, pulling attention away from the individual works to the editing of Poetry Magazine and to the general culture of verse (and by extension literature) in the U.S. today. As my notes for the last post are developing, I am hoping to have some fun with it as well.