Sunday, October 31, 2010

Some Poetry Blogs Reviewed

I've only recently started to follow poetry blogs in any quantity. When I started reading blogs, Catholic blogs were the first ones I bumped into, and I set about making a little niche for myself within that sphere. I've always been on the fringe of it, but I've been happy. However, when I started For Keats' Sake, I originally had grand hopes of becoming a slender bridge between St. Blog's and the poetrysphere. That hasn't happened, of course. I do think that I've brought some more poetry to St. Blog's, but I haven't ever broken out of the Catholic orbit and into another. To do that, I would have to have read and commented on poetry blogs and made friendships with poets. And I am pathologically shy when it comes to my own poetry. I do not play well with others. The very thought of applying to a writing program spreads an ugly, uncollegial smirk across my face... and the prospect of swishing into a room full of live poets and chatting with them is really scary. I'm working on desensitizing myself, of course. Last week I went to a small reading on campus, talked to the editor of the Heartland Review, read a couple of (other people's) poems, promoted Dappled Things a little, and did not die.

I have read Harriet for some time now, and kept up with poetry news via Choriamb, but I have seldom ventured into Harriet's blogroll and started browsing. I'll try, and get discouraged. Ron Silliman is kind of like the Amy Welborn of the poetry blogosphere. He used to have a Mark Sheavian flora of poisonous com-box warriors, but he finally got fed up and disabled comments. I've never really gotten into his blog, sad to say, because the ratio of links to commentary is just too high. The blogs I gravitate to feature an intimate, epistulary voice with a lot to say about a topic that interests me. Smaller blogs. Blogs with little salon-like circles of friendly, non-flamey readers. And a lot of poet bloggers commit the same faults that most obscure bloggers (like myself) commit: not posting often enough, getting bored with their blogs and dropping them for a month with no explanation, posting too many squibs and not enough essays. Also, some of them are written in non-sequential, eye-gouging experimental prose. Just what you'd expect from a poet, ha! But reading through a variety of these blogs has also encouraged me. Many of them are also crossover efforts, to some extent. I haven't run into any other trad-Catholic poet bloggers yet (besides the merry little band I already link to!) but I've found bloggers who are self-consciously Latino, or Wiccan, or gay, or even (scandal!) formalist. This really cheers me up. I'm sure they would coalesce into a band of maenads to rip into my politics (such as they are), but otherwise there's some welcome ideological diversity.

So here are a few poetry blogs I want to read:

Isola di Rifiuti
John Latta has a wonderfully recognizable, Anthony Blanche-ish sort of voice. He affects apostrophes in his past tenses ("All the surrounding houses demolish’d, ailanthus and other weed trees partout."), which is enough to make me feel charmed. And he writes nice, bedsheet-sized posts on everything from modernism to Martial.

The Newer Metaphysicals
I was attracted to this blog by a series of posts titled "Manning makes Fun of His Elders," in which the eponymous blogger fisks various famous definitions of poetry:
Poetry is the synthesis of hyacinths and biscuits.

- Carl Sandburg

Poetry is thus completely revolting Carl, if my morning's experiments are to go by. Remark, for instance, that it is impossible to get the weedy taste out of the dough batter, and the subsequent mouth-burning is an experience comparable only to the most recent Ted Kooser collection.

I'm sorry to say that I just can't get enough of this sort of thing.

Don Share is the senior editor of Poetry, so maybe that accounts for the coherence and disciplined posting schedule on his blog. Check out this essay on Pound which turns into a heartening stand on behalf of learning foreign/classical languages.

George Szirtes
Another poet-blogger with a voice I just like. He is an Anglo-Hungarian poet and translator, and in response to this submission guide:

XYZ will accept no poems about cats, funerals, churches, the Holocaust or disasters seen only on television.

once wrote a poem titled


He is, needless to say, worth reading.

Poetry and Popular Culture
This blog is much less garish than you might expect, as it has a retro focus. Mike Chasar's own description is perfect: "Further thoughts on the intersection of poetry and popular culture: this being a record of one man's journey into good bad poetry, not-so-good poetry, commercial poetries, ordinary readers, puns, newspaper poetries, and other instances of poetic language or linguistic insight across multiple media in American culture primarily but not solely since the Civil War." See this post on a Depression-era can of "Magic" birdseed and get addicted.


Steven Fama said...

Hi Meredith,

I like your description of yourself (in the "About Me" section) as "mad about poetry." You may enjoy some of what I've posted on poetry; check it out here, if you please.

Your blog title is a goodie. It reminds me of a years-long desire I've had to read Keat's letters, which more than one person has told me are among the tippy-top poet-correspondence collections one can read.

Meredith said...

Hi Steven,

Thanks for the link! What a rich post on concrete poetry. I will have to add your blog to my reading list...

I see from your post on Sandra Simons that you live in San Francisco. I'm from the South Bay myself; this makes me want to go home and go on a LitCrawl. It sounds like great fun.

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