Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Name Those Poets

A recent question from Nolapoet:

Not baiting. Asking sincerely. Who are your favorite three poets? Or, as I prefer it, who are three of your favorite poets (which allows for many more additions later)?
Here are three of mine:
Marilyn Hacker
Sam Gwynn
Marilyn Nelson


I'm just going to open this one up to the general public here.
Truth be told, all of my favorite poets are dead.
Except for Dan, of course.

It's an interesting enough question, tho. I wonder how many people have "favorite" poets? Are they living ones, or long deceased? I have favorite poems, but not poets. There are poets I like alot, some of them still alive, but for the most part, I become enamored with certain select poems and not the poets who've written them. There's not one poet, much less three of them, whom I consistently fall in love with or read religiously.

I'm not being evasive here, I'm simply trying to be honest. Most of my poetry knowledge is in the past. The present simply doesn't interest me all that much. Of the three names mentioned here, Sam Gwynn is the only one I am familiar with.

I'd like to hear what others think, tho. I'm learning to be more open to suggestion and I'll check out any names which are unfamiliar to me....who knows - maybe I'll even find one I can love.


Michelle e o said...

I really like Lyn Hejinian right now. But it changes with the weather. I recently read some Kate Greenstreet and am looking for more. I like dead people, new people, young people, old people. Whenever I hear a name I try to read the person.

nolapoet said...

When you write, "I become enamored with certain select poems and not the poets who've written them," it sounds as if you're referring to cults of personality. Clearly, such matters have nothing to do with craft.

These three poets are consistently good, constantly publishing a stream of genuinely fresh, edgy, and highly-crafted poetry. They all happen to be living and they tend to one degree or another to use form.

Three fine dead poets I like who fit into this category: William Butler Yeats, William Shakespeare, James Merrill.


Lo said...

Actually, I think it has everything to do with the craft, itself, and nothing to do with the craft-er. I'm unsure where that comes from, R, and I'm totally in the dark as to what you mean by "cults of personality."
Whatever poems I like, I like because of the structure, the word usage, the weaving of the lauguage itself.....For the most part, I could care less who wove what or why. Very few poets can maintain a level of art which is consistantly fine. They write good poems, they write bad poems, they write ho-hum poems......and occasionally they write brilliant poems.
Those are the ones I like - regardless of who wrote them or how many of them they wrote. It's the words I will remember, not the person who wrote them.
I'd rather have a poem remembered than to be remembered myself.
It's far less personally invasive and it's much more in fitting with the ways of nature.....the flesh falls off, the bones decay and in the end, only the words remain.

Anonymous said...

That was my point--I though YOU were saying that I was indulging in cults of personality. In short, we agree.

But... my question remains.

Tell me what *specifically* in terms of craft grabs you about a particular poem by a particular poet. Living is good. Dead is OK.

And, is there no poet who has written more than one or two poems you like? If there is one, who?

Ze gauntlet, she has been thrown down, ah honh honh HONH! (bad channeling of Maurice Chevalier). ;)

Lo said...

"Ze gauntlet" as you say, she will have to be picked up by someone else.

I've made my position pretty clear, I believe, and I feel no pressing need or desire to continue stating and restating my position - it's not going to change. My interests are just that, mine....for me to think that they matter, or that they would have any influence on someone else's interest, well, personally, I don't feel qualified or even inclined to do that. There are crit boards and workshops for that sort of thing, and this is no crit board.

Then again, if you'd simply prefer to think I am unable or unwilling to read at all, that's fine, too - because frankly - I have no idea why it's apparently become so important to you.

As a last attempt at civility, I shall place a link to your "challenge" on this blog and once again repeat my wish to be left out of it. If others wish to play with you, that's fine. I'd even encourage it. I just don't want to play.

That's reasonable, isn't it?

Rob Mackenzie said...

I could easily name three favourite contemporary poets, but all the names would change by tomorrow. And the day after that, they would change again.

There's a lot of interesting stuff around, but I reckon a good anthology would at least hint at poets you might want to read more of. My personal recommendations might put you off modern poetry for life!

Lo said...

:) Oh, go ahead and name them, Rob. Even if I don't personally care for the poems, the choices tell me something about the person who recommended them. It's as interesting to me to see what people like as it is to find something I like myself. If nothing else, it reassures me that we are all individuals with individual likes and dislikes and that most poems will eventually find a good home and an appreciative audience somewhere.
I never consider my opinion to mean much of anything....it doesnt make a bad poem good or a good poem bad, it simply makes it a poem I like or dislike for "my" reasons, which probably have more to do with me than it has to do with the poem in question.
Besides, all poetry is a learning experience, isn't it? It's either something I want to be able to do myself, or something I want to be able to avoid doing in the future.
It's not that I don't read other poets, I do...and avidly - I just don't feel qualified to state that someone's a good writer or a bad one based on my opinion alone.
I mean, what do I know? Poe is one of my idols, if that tells you anything.