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The question of whether poetry does matter in life

I was absorbed, but the woman next to me—maybe bored by her own copy of The Da Vinci Code—felt compelled to strike up a conversation about her college-age daughter.

  1. Although many critics have commented on the cyclical nature of the Four Quartets, Frye has actually diagrammed these poems. This man who seemed so unapproachable was the most approached by younger poets—and the most helpful to them—of any poet of his generation," except for Ezra Pound.
  2. One has again and again the feeling that he is working, as it were, too close to the object.... Eliot is by far the most important critic of the twentieth century in the English-speaking world.
  3. It lacks the dimension of human error.
  4. What action, drama, or conflict is present?

I caught her eyeing the book now resting facedown on my lap. I was looking down at it too, trying to figure out a way to break off the talk. I explained that, yes, I was in an MFA program for writing.

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Her comment floored me, though I concede she could have meant any number of things by that. She could have been wondering why anybody would be reading poetry on a plane, which is a valid question: Who would want to read something that demands so much attention with so many distractions at hand? Her hair was tied back and she was wearing a blazer over a crisp white shirt, gray skirt, black nylons, everything about her suggesting business trip. And who could blame her?

Her comment begs the question: Do we still see poetry as somehow feminine? They sat up a little straighter and reached for their No.

  • They were outsiders, and that stance appealed to a nerdy kid who already felt excluded from the social structures of junior high school;
  • And I think it's a very good thing I didn't have the opportunity.

Spencer Short and his first book, Tremolo, come first to mind. What strange algebra all this seems, now. The drunken, hot-rodding kids. The waves slowly erasing the shore with their tiny, salty hands. What makes a Manly Poem manly in the first place?

I think if I could have if only I could have! She might have run the other way. Mark Wunderlich is the author of The Anchorage 1999 and Voluntary Servitude 2004and he has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship.

He is a gay poet or a poet who happens to be gayand though I hate to place labels on any writer, the poems in his first book, The Anchorage, do not shy from this personal truth.

Perhaps my bias shows: The poems in The Anchorage turn elegiac as the specter of AIDS—and the more literal-seeming ghost of a lost lover—begin to overtake them. They find a quiet power here where no pizzazz is needed, no posturing allowed. There will be mornings, waking alone, when a print of me in the bed is laundered and pinned on a line, is gone.

Architecture, fretwork for structure.

  • Is a sense of place clear urban, pastoral, forest, desert, beach, etc;
  • Are certain words used in unusual, non-literal, non-standard, exaggerated, or metaphorical ways?
  • His critical essays on Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatists, his use of the dramatic monologue in some of his best-known early poems;;;
  • He flipped it open to the Table of Contents and started cracking up;
  • Can you tell the way it is thinking, or is it unclear, opaque, and confusing?

The miniature tea set for delicacy. Iron for fortitude and weight.

  • The evening sky was dark; he looked up; he felt sick;
  • What effect does this have?
  • Eliot, a great poet, became both master and pupil of dramatic theory, yet however important his plays were, he was never to write a chef-d'oeuvre;
  • Which details stand out?
  • These are not only distinguishable but opposed, and in Christianity the opposition is total, as for it the selfish self is to be annihilated, and the other is the immortal soul one is trying to save;
  • Eliot is by far the most important critic of the twentieth century in the English-speaking world.

Linen as a reminder of skin. Crystal for simple music. When I read these lines, I bristle.

T. S. Eliot

And because the poems in The Anchorage do take risks with more openly homosexual subject matter, let me also ask a rather prudish question: Do gay poets, who so often rightfully, I would argue write about their sexual lives, the pleasures and mutinies of the body—do we risk turning off straight readers?

Can poetry afford to lose any more of its readership? A writer-friend stopped by my table as I was reading and asked if he could see the new book. He flipped it open to the Table of Contents and started cracking up.

A Carl Phillips poem may make you furrow your brow and sigh, but it will likely not make you laugh. He read the titles of the poems aloud to me; a partial list: The one who takes from behind.

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Amazement grips me, I grip it back, the book shuts slowly: When I think about my first encounters with poetry, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson instantly spring to mind.

They were outsiders, and that stance appealed to a nerdy kid who already felt excluded from the social structures of junior high school.

  1. For a more extensive list, consult either of these sites. Just as Eliot never accepted the statement that The Waste Land represented "the disillusionment of a generation," Braybrooke submits, he would never admit that his use of broken images "meant a separation from belief, since for him doubts and certainties represented varieties of belief.
  2. Hard work and no gain, Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air. What happens is that he achieves a kind of filigree without pattern.
  3. One way to determine a theme is to 1 ask yourself what the poem is about; 2 come up with some one-word answers to that question subjects of the poem ; and 3 ask what general attitude tone is taken towards those subjects in the poem. What meaning do they bring to the poem?
  4. There will be mornings, waking alone, when a print of me in the bed is laundered and pinned on a line, is gone. I caught her eyeing the book now resting facedown on my lap.
  5. This is a feat at least as difficult as it sounds, and if the poem succeeds in it, it is because, however much it remembers previous deaths by drowning, it creates its own life against its own thrust of questioning. He has created a world of formal perfection.

Dickinson and Whitman had fallen in love with the things of the world, and there was a real loneliness in those lines I could relate to. My inexplicable attraction to men had already set me apart from everyone else, and so when poetry came around, I found a way to make use of the loneliness I reasoned I was going to feel either way.

Poets are outsiders, even among outsiders. But poetry and the other arts lend credibility to that separateness and the contrary lifestyle that must come with it. Or like Charles Wright, often holding forth from the vantage of his backyard, separate from the world, yet steeped in it too: Hard work, this business of solitude.

Hard work and no gain, Mouthful of silence, mouthful of air. Ultimately, I would kindly explain to her what power I find in poetry, how much I have inexplicably come to love it over the years and how much I enjoy sharing it.

The question is not whether poetry is particularly gay or not; it is, as always, why we choose to fill our time with the things we do, how often we have no choice in the matter of what calls to us. I think she would have understood.