Friday, April 30, 2010


The competition for Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, while exhibiting some of the more lamentable aspects of our poetry world -- such as popularity contests and bogus distinctions that have nothing to do with the quality of writing -- did introduce me to a new blogger whose writing is well worth following. Sina Queyras, blogging as Lemon Hound, eschews the more superficial aspects of the poetry community while providing us with thoughtful commentary on aspects of the art of poetry, such as anthologies, the prose poem, the poet's job as silence (a brief, apt entry), and also great links.

Sina was voted co-Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere, along with Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides. He's  professionally blogging for Writer's Digest. Not exactly a level playing field, so Sina's achievement is all the more noteworthy. If you count popularity as an achievement. In both cases, the blogs earn distinction, and I am happy to follow both. But I think I'll be reading Lemon Hound more often, when I want to think about aspects of making, rather than promoting, poetry.

When I went to AWP earlier this month, and found myself amid 7,000 poets and writers all busily shuttling from reading to reading and panel to panel, the sense I had was of a carnival of people hawking their wares. While I love a carnival and enjoyed the frenzied atmosphere -- where else can you be so thickly stuffed into a crowd of your own nerdy kind? -- I noted the general mediocrity of many offerings. Perhaps I picked poorly among the panels and readings, but I heard a lot of bad to forgettable poetry, saw a lot of less-than-qualified people expounding on an art they clearly hadn't mastered. Because of the contest/MFA/tenure-seeking atmosphere that surrounds poetry now, much of what I read seems to have devolved into pop culture literature: writing exhibiting fads, superficiliality, an excessive love of the quirky and novel. Poetry has held a higher place in civilization. I wonder if an emphasis on the newness of a metaphor and the edginess of a theme really creates great art. I wonder and keep reading, and as I read, I find poets who give me reason to hope for a deeper and richer art to emerge from the wild and diverting carnival of today's poetry scene.


  1. Rachel, Thanks for reminding me about Lemon Hound. I used to read but lost the link along the way. I've now re-added it to my RSS feeder.

    As for AWP, I wish I'd been able to meet you there. I'd love to compare notes about which panels/readings you attended. I wonder about some of the same things as you mention here.

  2. I wish I'd been able to meet you too! Such a big swirl of people, and I missed so many I had been planning to connect with. Too short.

    I went to a reading of Northern Colorado poets which was very uneven, ranign from embarrassing banality to compelling, well-crafted work by Ruth Ellen Kocher. Another was a discussion of new directions in poetry publishing, with one panelist from here in San Francisco who seemed to have little to contribute, and much of the discussion was unenlightening, stuff you can find out with a little googling. Many of the topics left me cold, and so I had a hard time finding things I really wanted to attend -- and then they were all at the same time! Maddening.

  3. Rachel, thanks for sharing! My wondering had a lot to do with some of the more quirky and "pushing the limits" poetry and whether it would stick or not.

    Also, had the same experience of multiple panels at the same time that looked interesting!

    Maybe we'll meet the next time around. Hope so.

  4. you are not the only one who feels this way and i am glad to see you give voice to these thoughts.