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Who is the best contemporary poet in your opinion?

 
 
CalamityJane
 
  2  
Reply Fri 26 Feb, 2010 09:46 pm
@msolga,
He's got such a way with words, MsOlga - as I said, I have several poetry books
of Kavanaugh, and I treasure them so much.
Here is another one of my favorite poems

Some people do not have to search -
they find their niche early in life and rest there, seemingly contented and resigned.
They do not seem to ask much of life,
sometimes they do not seem to take it seriously.
At times I envy them,
but usually I do not understand them -
seldom do they understand me.

I am one of the searchers.
There are, I believe, millions of us.
We are not unhappy, but neither are we really content. We continue to explore life,
hoping to uncover its ultimate secret.
We continue to explore ourselves,
hoping to understand.

We like to walk along the beach -
we are drawn by the ocean,
taken by its power, its unceasing motion, its mystery and unspeakable beauty.
We like forests and mountains, deserts and hidden rivers, and the lonely cities as well.

Our sadness is as much a part of our lives as is our laughter.
To share our sadness with the one we love is perhaps as great a joy as we can know -
unless it is to share our laughter.

We searchers are ambitious only for life itself,
for everything beautiful it can provide.
Most of all we want to love and be loved.
We want to live in a relationship that will not impede
our wandering, nor prevent our search, nor lock us in prison walls.

We do not want to prove ourselves to another or compete for love.
We are wanderers, dreamers and lovers,
lonely souls who dare ask of life everything good and
beautiful.

- - James Kavanaugh


0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 06:05 am
Freedom, Revolt, and Love
by Frank Stanford


They caught them.
They were sitting at a table in the kitchen.
It was early.
They had on bathrobes.
They were drinking coffee and smiling.
She had one of his cigarillos in her fingers.
She had her legs tucked up under her in the chair.
They saw them through the window.
She thought of them stepping out of a bath
And him wrapping cloth around her.
He thought of her walking up in a small white building,
He thought of stones settling into the ground.
Then they were gone.
Then they came in through the back.
Her cat ran out.
The house was near the road.
She didn't like the cat going out.
They stayed at the table.
The others were out of breath.
The man and the woman reached across the table.
They were afraid, they smiled.
The other poured themselves the last of the coffee.
Burning their tongues.
The man and the woman looked at them.
They didn't say anything.
The man and the woman moved closer to each other,
The round table between them.
The stove was still on and burned the empty pot.
She started to get up.
One of them shot her.
She leaned over the table like a schoolgirl doing her lessons.
She thought about being beside him, being asleep.
They took her long gray socks
Put them over the barrel of a rifle
And shot him.
He went back in his chair, holding himself.
She told him hers didn't hurt much,
Like in the fall when everything you touch
Makes a spark.
He thought about her getting up in the dark
Wrapping a quilt around herself.
And standing in the doorway.
She asked the men if they shot them again
Not to hurt their faces.
One of them lit him one of his cigarettes.
He thought what it would be like
Being children together.
He was dead before he finished it.
She asked them could she take it out of his mouth.
So it wouldn't burn his lips.
She reached over and touched his hair.
She thought about him walking through the dark singing.
She died on the table like that,
Smoke coming out of his mouth.

~Frank Stanford (he's incredible)

And It Came to Pass
by C. D. Wright


This june 3
would be different

Time to draw lines

I've grown into the family pores
and the bronchitis

Even up east
I get by saying goddamnit

Who was that masked man
I left for dead
in the shadow of mt. shadow

Who crumbles there

Not touching anything
but satin and dandelions

Not laid his eyes
on the likes of you

Because the unconnected life
is not worth living

Thorntrees overtake the spot

Hands appear to push back pain

Because no poet's death

Can be the sole author
of another poet's life

What will my new instrument be

Just this water glass
this untunable spoon

Something else is out there
goddamnit

And I want to hear it

~CD Wright (love her...she did a book of poetry that I adore)

Notes For The Legend Of Salad Woman

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Since my wife was born
she must have eaten
the equivalent of two-thirds
of the original garden of Eden.
Not the dripping lush fruit
or the meat in the ribs of animals
but the green salad gardens of that place.
The whole arena of green
would have been eradicated
as if the right filter had been removed
leaving only the skeleton of coarse brightness.

All green ends up eventually
churning in her left cheek.
Her mouth is a laundromat of spinning drowning herbs.
She is never in fields
but is sucking the pith out of grass.
I have noticed the very leaves from flower decorations
grow sparse in their week long performance in our house.
The garden is a dust bowl.

On our last day in Eden as we walked out
she nibbled the leaves at her breasts and crotch.
But there's none to touch
none to equal
the Chlorophyll Kiss

~Michael Ondaatje (his prose/poetry books kick ass)


Give It, Up


In work boots & woolen
Wigwams, we're a cold wind in summer
trees at Sligo park. After all
the shins crossed in Gainesville,
Bridget can be anybody
she can have off the dribble.
Give Tiny the ball in the Cage
& there's nothing
he won't do if sunlight slips
between strangers. Shut Up & Play,
just two kinds of moron
at Nat Cole Park when L-no fell
in broken glass on the wing,
& you knew you had Jone-Jone
trailing by sweat beads
in his other woman's perfume.
She was here yesterday,
sat off in the grass like Sade
sounds in the shade. Damned
if somethingsomething ain't right
about how we do each other
wrong. If you pass it to Ranger,
don't come around tomorrow.
It's the only place in town I know
your pulse before your name. If you see Shame,
tell him we waited. Remember
the day we won three straight? The sun set
your palm on fire, fell in the chains
& never swore a sound
until Red & Ricky opened a trunk
full of joy & rain. One
death-still midnight in June,
we met alone under the streetlight
spot at center court. I asked
about your heavy hand
& you said Rough Shape
was out there in the parking lot.
On Saturday, you showed up
with That Scratch, our shadows
slow danced in the lane
& I tasted salt from a smooth
dome raised on your neck.
Who else can tell them
about Maurice & the color
of my shirt when I put point
in his eye. Last night,
you wore my skin
home & it couldn't have meant
less if I liked your punk ass.

~Ed Pavlic (my UGA prof...who has a bunch of other even better stuff I can't seem to find ight now)
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 06:31 am
@Lash,
Quote:
~Frank Stanford (he's incredible)


Wow.
Never heard of him till now, Lash. Thank you for the introduction.
Now that was something!
Gargamel
 
  4  
Reply Sat 27 Feb, 2010 09:21 am
Contemporary means the poets are publishing today. The most popular of them would include Mary Oliver, Phillip Levine, Li-Young Lee, Charles Simic, Bei Dao, Kay Ryan, and Haryette Mullen. Those come to mind now. But there are about a billion, a billion-and-a-half of them.

And if you really want to get fancy and prove to everyone on A2K you're hot **** you could add Virgil Suarez, Ariel Greenberg, Donald Revel, and Cornelius Eady.

I recommend Google should you wish to read any of their poems.

These are just a few drops in the ocean.
0 Replies
 
Lash
 
  2  
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 04:42 pm
@msolga,
So very glad you liked him, Olga!!
msolga
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Mar, 2010 05:17 pm
@Lash,
Oh I did (as you've gathered), Lash.

And I'm going to find some more of his writing. Quite dramatic, isn't it? Smile
0 Replies
 
zhjuan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 19 Mar, 2010 04:29 pm
Fresco sent this poem to encourage me treat victory and failure just the same. I thought the philosophy of the entire poem is so insightful that I would love to share with others under this topic.

If (by Rudyard Kipling)

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream"and not make dreams your master;
If you can think"and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings"nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And"which is more"you'll be a Man my son!
0 Replies
 
McGentrix
 
  1  
Reply Wed 18 Aug, 2010 01:42 pm
Apparently this is very popular by a relatively new poet.

Ohh wooaah Ohh wooaah Ohh wooaah
You know you love me, I know you care
Just shout whenever, And I'll be there
You are my love, You are my heart
And we will never ever-ever be apart

Are we an item. Girl quit playing
"We're just friends"
What are you sayin?
said theres another and looked right in my eyes
My first love broke my heart for the first time,

And I was like
Baby, baby, baby ooh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ooh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

Baby, baby, baby oohh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine


For you,i would have done what ever
And I just cant believe we ain't together
And I wanna play it cool, But I'm losing you
I'll buy you anything, ill buy you any ring
And I'm in pieces, Baby fix me
and just shake me til' you wake me from this bad dream

I'm going down, down, down, down
And I just can't believe, my first love won't be around

And I'm like,
Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ooh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

Baby, baby, baby oooh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ooh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

Luda, When I was thirteen, I had my first love
There was nobody that compaired to my baby
And nobody came between us
or could ever come above
She had me going crazy
Oh I was starstruck
She woke me up daily
Don't need no Starbucks
She make my heart pound[wwwhhhooo]
and skip a beat when I see her in the street
and, At school, on the playground
But I really wanna see her on the weekend
She know she got me dazing
Cuz she was so amazing
And now, my heart is breakin'
But I just keep on sayin'

Baby, baby, baby ohh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby ohh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

Baby, baby, baby ooh
Like baby, baby, baby noo
Like baby, baby, baby oooh
Thought you'd always be mine, mine

(Now I'm all gone)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Yeah Yeah Yeah
(Now I'm all gone)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

(Now I'm all gone)
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah
Now I'm all gone, gone, gone, ooh
I'm gone

-J. Bieber
0 Replies
 
RonPrice
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Oct, 2010 06:42 am
@zhjuan,
JOHN ASHBERY: A Personal Reflection on a Famous American poet.-Ron
------------------------------------------
The famous American poet John Ashbery’s first book, Some Trees (1956) won the Yale Younger Poets Prize. I was only 12 years old at the time. The competition for the prize was judged by the even more famous poet, W.H. Auden. Auden famously confessed later that he hadn’t understood a word of the winning manuscript. Ashbery's poems, according to Fred Moramarco in the Journal of Modern Literature, are a verbal canvas upon which Ashbery freely applies the techniques of expressionism. Ashbery’s strongest supporters admit that his poetry is very difficult to read and understand. Many critics have commented on the manner in which Ashbery's fluid style conveys a major concern in his poetry: the refusal to impose an arbitrary order on a world of flux and chaos. Ashbery says: “my poetry is disjunct, but then so is life." His poems move, often without continuity, from one image to the next. This lack of any continuity prompts some critics to praise his expressionist technique and other critics to accuse him of producing art that is unintelligible and meaningless.

When I started out as a traveller-pioneer in the Canadian Baha’i community in 1962 and began my matriculation in grade 13 in Ontario, Ashbery published his The Tennis Court Oath which some of those critics deplored as obscurantist and insisted that this poem, like his previous poetry, was made up of anything and everything. It could mean anything and everything.-Ron Price with thanks to “The Tennis Court Oath,” The Poetry Foundation, 3 October 2010.

When I started to get into poetry, John,
in ’62 I knew nothing about you, unlike
Peter Straub1 who very consciously was
revolutionized in the way and the how he
saw poetry from what he had been taught
to read and think about it. But it took me
thirty more years before I could give my
mind and heart to this thing called poetry.

And, by that time, John, I was wanting to
make connections as I headed into middle
of middle age…One could not connect all
things, that would be impossible except in
some broad philosophical sense, but I was
not into obscurantist double-talk. Mine was
a new explanatory narrative about anything
and everything…..Like you, John, I write for
myself because I enjoy it. Like you, if a work
needs a lot of reworking, I don’t even start it.2

2 The San Francisco Review of Books, November 1977, in Joe David Bellamy, Ed. American Poetry Observed: Poets On Their Work, U Illinois Press, Urbana, 1984.

1 Peter Straub, “The Oath Unbroken: The Tennis Court Oath(1962),” From Connections, 49, Fall, 2007.

Ron Price
3 October 2010
0 Replies
 
brindle67
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2010 04:56 pm
@zhjuan,
Edit [Moderator]: Link removed
Brian John Evans
Sample

"NEW ZEALAND MY HOME

Bikini flirt or shy fern-hidden minx,
Sparkling beach, or mountain-dwelling mother's
Southern Stars, whose distant high-strung jinks,
Delight four million marooned lovers."
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2010 10:49 pm
Just last week I discovered a poet named Rachel Contreni Flynn. A sober yet somehow romantic Midwestern poet.

I found the following pretty ******* devastating.


Dead Center

August in Indiana:

a heavy moon hung over space
where there was almost nothing

but one big town at dead center.

Grasshoppers popped under tires,
the trees swelled with grackles,

and I amused myself with windmills—
the solitary geometry of glint and spin,

slowing then standing motionless
until the sky raised its dark fist.

The autumn my mother left
a coldness opened . . .

Beans dried to snakes' tails in the fields,
and my chest filled with rust.

In the snow I walked the pastures

in an orange poncho
my father could see from the house.

Once I told him to stop waving at me.

Once I said maybe I'll just keep walking.

And once I slid the poncho
to the near-frozen middle of Moots Pond

just to watch him run from the house
barefoot and wild.
0 Replies
 
Gargamel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Dec, 2010 10:50 pm
I'm not saying she's the best or anything. It's just that the poetry threads are so few and far between and this one was near the top of my "My Posts" filter. And I wanted to share that awesome poem.
0 Replies
 
velmarocks
 
  1  
Reply Sat 1 Jan, 2011 01:12 pm
Michael Donaghy is by far my favorite contemporary poet. Unfortunately, he died a few years ago at age 50, so if you were only looking for living poets, he doesn't fit that criteria.

Here are several living poets whose work I greatly admire:
Seamus Heaney
Richard Wilbur
Wendy Cope
Jill Alexander Essbaum
David Mason
Kay Ryan
A.M. Juster
R.S. Gwynn
A.E. Stallings

Do a Google search on any of the names above and you should be able to find links to some of their poems. Happy reading!
0 Replies
 
lkw787
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Apr, 2011 09:54 pm
@zhjuan,
it depends on what you are looking for in poetry. I took a seminar with the award winning contemporary American poet, Edward Hirsch, in which he argued that there are two kinds of lyric poets: poets of transcendence and poets of immanence. The first try to create moments outside of time and the others have perhaps a more zen aesthetic, seeking to celebrate the quotidien and the transitory. Emily Dickinson was a transcendence junkie, Robert Hass, influenced by zen and Japanese Haiki is a poet of the quotidien (the daily, the ordinary.) Thus, per Ed Hirsch, Hass would be considered a poet of immanence rather than one of transcendence. Other transcendence poets would be Keats and Hart Crane by Ed's definitions I think.

Jane Hirschfield, another American poet with whom I studied said, "The house of poetry has many rooms." So looking to judge all poems as if they are all trying to be or do the same thing as if there is only one room and one set of standards would, I think be rather limiting.

Are you looking for people who made great innovations in poetry? Or people who were great because they had long careers and plugged away despite the low pay/lack of acclaim during their lives? How do you define/decide?

My list:

John Keats for sheer musicality, depth of thought, and moxie. He was a transcendence junkie (Romantic poet 19th century),

contemporary American poets: Lynda Hull died in 1994), Sylvia Plath (transcendence junkie), Mark Doty (still living, friend of Lynda Hull)for his intelligence and musicality, Hart Crane (dead in the early 20th century I think), Lorca (killed in Spanish Civil War), TS Eliot (high modernist), Ezra Pound (high modernist, now dead)

But if you are really curious about what's currently popular go to a good library or bookstore and peruse the current literary journals. Who knows how history will judge years from now? Will any of it still have currency 30 years from now? Hard to say...

Have fun!

Lisa
0 Replies
 
RonPrice
 
  1  
Reply Sat 7 Apr, 2012 11:38 pm
@zhjuan,
Q: What about the human influences, the effect of people, on what you write? Is it as great as books which obviously have quite a significant impact from what you say?

Price: Many of my poems are the result of experiences I have with my colleagues and students at work. I lecture in the social sciences and humanities at the West Australian Department of Training. I am also very committed to the Baha’i Faith and this commitment brings me into contact with many different kinds of people and situations. These generate another group of poems, as does my family and friends. My poetry is very autobiographical and I often will write a poem about someone whom I knew many years ago, my mother or father, say. And then, this may sound strange to you, but I like to think of, and I certainly believe in, the influences on my poetry from those who have gone on to another world. This is a much more subtle, more intangible, process; but it is certainly a human influence I cannot discard because I am often conscious of it. Just exactly how this influence takes place I do not know or understand.

There are many precursors to my poetry. Although some stand out like Roger White, William Wordsworth, Emily Dickinson, indeed, the very poetic nature of the Baha’i writings, there are dozens of influences that I would not want to veil or conceal from myself or from others. Of course, one cannot like all the poets and writers to the same degree. One develops favorites and these favorites take on greater influence. But the subject is simply too vast to put into a paragraph.
--------------------------------------
Q: Many poets in the late twentieth century draw on the movies, film, TV, video, for much of their material. Does contemporary film, theatre, music, the arts in general, come into your poetry?

Price: I rarely read newspapers anymore; TV is very much a peripheral experience for me although, since I want to sit with my wife and son, I do watch the news and an odd assortment of stuff. I’d watch perhaps one video every two months; I listen to a lot of ABC radio and read a great many books. My wife and I, and sometimes our son, would go to the movies perhaps once every two months. Some radio items get into my poetry; occasionally an item from TV or the press becomes the basis for a poem, but mostly books and experience past and present.
--------------------------------------
Q: What are some of the topics, themes, subjects, content areas of your poems?

Price: Anyone who actually reads my poetry will see that question answered in exquisite and not-so-exquisite-detail, as the case may be. Many of my poems deal with the process of writing poetry; all the poems are introduced with quotations from various sources which relate in different ways to the content of the poetry. Off the top of my head I’d say the following were common topics in my poetry: love, religion, Mt Carmel, my family, the Baha’i Faith, poetry, writing, people, the erotic, nature, history, etcetera. I think the list, even a list of categories, is virtually endless.

Q: How do you determine the length of a poem, its shape; how do you decide when it is over, its style?

Price: The length is determined largely by the content, the topic and by what I have to say. There is no specific pattern here, as far as I can see. There tend to be certain patterns: sonnet length, one-to-two page poems on rare occasions; very few poems are less than ten lines; even fewer would go for more than three pages. A statistical analysis might reveal some concentrations which I am not aware of here. Sometimes a poem is light and humorous; at other times it is very serious, maybe even a little depressing for some people, although I am conscious of people’s disinclination to dwell on the heavy side of life at least here in Australia. Most of the time the poem is easy to end because I get a clear feeling I have said what I want to say.

Perhaps once every ten or twenty poems I get into a bind and I cannot find the words I want; it is an anxious and discomfiting process when this happens and if all my writing was like this I’d give up writing poetry. Thankfully, writing poetry is a fairly flowing experience with a great deal of pleasure associated with an ease of expression. Indeed, much of the writing of poetry I would even describe as a blissful process, sheer delight. When I reread it seems as if it was not written by me at all. I find this phenomenon quite strange, exciting in a way, but it makes me feel cautious as if I was dealing with a gift, a gift that has come to me in my middle years and one I treasure as if from the Source of awe and power.



Gargamel
 
  2  
Reply Tue 10 Apr, 2012 08:36 am
@RonPrice,
That's it: I nominate RON PRICE for Best Poet Ever.
0 Replies
 
BookLover28
 
  1  
Reply Mon 22 Oct, 2012 01:46 pm
@Amigo,
I Love Bukowski, Amigo, but "case closed?" No, he would quake in his heart if he thought that someone who loved him would so easily close his mind!

For Jane

225 days under grass
and you know more than I.
they have long taken your blood,
you are a dry stick in a basket.
is this how it works?
in this room
the hours of love
still make shadows.

when you left
you took almost
everything.
I kneel in the nights
before tigers
that will not let me be.

what you were
will not happen again.
the tigers have found me
and I do not care.
0 Replies
 
JTG198904
 
  1  
Reply Sun 11 Nov, 2012 03:52 am
I really appreciate this discussion. I have gained a lot of desirable insight and hope to progress myself as a poet. I hope to one day be one of those great names all of you are mentioning.... Someday ( '-')
0 Replies
 
RonPrice
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Jan, 2014 03:45 am
There are several poets and one critic mentioned below, all of whom are high on my list of the best of the best.-Ron Price, Australia
----------------------------------------
POETRY OF ABUNDANCE

Part 1:

Back in April 1988, as I was finishing my first term in my first year as a lecturer in a technical and further education college in Perth Western Australia, and as I was beginning the first years of middle-age, Helen Vendler wrote a review in The New York Review of Books. It was a review of a new book of poems, The Haw Lantern, by Seamus Heaney.1Vendler(1933- ) was and is a leading American poetry critic. Heaney(1939-) was and is an Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.

“Here are thirty-two new poems by Seamus Heaney,”Vendler began, “from this poet of abundance who is undergoing in middle age the experience of natural loss. As the earth loses for him the mass and gravity of familiar presences—parents and friends taken by death—desiccation and weightlessness threaten the former fullness of the sensual life.” Heaney, twenty-five years later and as I write this reflective piece of prose-poetry, is now 74. More people in his life have been “taken by death.” More of that “fullness of the sensual life” has been taken by life. The academic John Sutherland, among others, see Heaney as "the greatest poet of our age".

By my mid-forties I was no “poet of abundance.” That delightful poetic ride, which was Heaney’s gift, was waiting for me as I got into my fifties. Here I am now, nearly 70, and that poetic ride feels like it has only begun after two decades of travelling many a mile with many booklets of poetry posted along the way, thousands of poems, millions of words and—as the 21st century advanced incrementally---millions of readers in cyberspace’s vast landscape.

Part 2:

That moment of emptiness, to which Vendler refers in the life of Seamus Heaney, is also found in other poets. Vendler attempts to describe the human experienceof aging by quoting other poets. “Already I take up less emotional space / Than a snowdrop,” James Merrill(1926-1995) wrote at such a point in his own evolution. Merrill was an American poet whose awards have included the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1977.

Robert Lowell’s grim poetic engine, churning powerfully on through the late sonnets, did not quite admit the chill of such a moment until Day by Day:

We are things thrown in the air alive in flight…
our rust the color of the chameleon.

It is very difficult for poets of brick and mortar solidity, like Robert Lowell(1917-1977), or of rooted heaviness, like Heaney, to become light, airy, desiccated. In their new style they cannot abandon their former selves.
“I balanced all, brought all to mind,” said W. B. Yeats, using a scale to weigh years behind and years to come. Yeats(1865-1939)was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature.

“The struggle to be one’s old self and one’s new self together is the struggle of poetry itself,” Vendler goes on, and “it must accumulate new layers rather than discard old ones. Heaney must thus continue to be a poet rich in tactile language, while expressing emptiness, absence, distance. The Haw Lantern, poised between these contradictory imperatives of adult life, is almost penitentially faithful to each, determined to forsake neither.”

Part 3:

The great systems of dogma: patriotic or ethical, religious or philosophical---are often, but not always, abandoned by poets as they come into their late middle age and late adulthood, to say nothing of old-age, the years after 80 according to one model of the lifespan used by psychologists of human development. Heaney’s own dogmas, says Vendler, were “abandoned in favour of a ceaseless psychic sorting,” and he took little joy in sorting.

Heaney has several times quoted Mandelstam’s3 “notion that poetry—and art in general—is addressed to…’The reader in posterity:’

“It is not directed exploitatively towards its immediate audience—although of course it does not set out to disdain the immediate audience either. It is directed towards the new perception which it is its function to create.2-Ron Price with thanks to 1Helen Vendler, Second Thoughts, The New York Review of Books, 28/4/’88;2Seamus Heaney, comments during a symposium on art and politics at North-eastern University, 1986, printed in Working Papers in Irish Studies, issued by North-eastern University, 1986, p. 33; and 3Osip Mandelstam(1891-1938) was a Russian poet and essayist.

So much lies ahead, after
I am gone, long after I am
gone…for my epigone1to
whom I direct the required
new perceptions which have
been slowly coming into my
mind as I try to balance all,
using a scale to weigh years
behind me & years to come.

My engine is not so grim as
Robert’s, churning as it did
in the midst of his bipolar
disorder2….although I, too,
have my rust which must be
cleaned from off my heart on
a daily basis as I write & write
surrounded by an abundance &
emptiness, with the loss of some
sensuality, a gain of some degree
of dessication as several doctors
deal with my bodily maladies as
the evening of life incrementally
goes insensibly into a long night.

1In the Greek myth the descendants of the Seven against Thebes undertook a second expedition against the city and eventually captured and destroyed it.
2 Robert Lowell was one of the twentieth century's most esteemed American poets. As a manic depressive who experienced alternating bouts of depression and mania, he was also one of its most tormented. In The Poetry of Heartbreak, July 2003,The Atlantic, Peter Davison reviews this collection and situates Lowell’s extensive body of work within the context of his chaotic life.

By the time Lowell died in 1977 at age sixty, he had been married and separated three times, had renounced his Protestant roots for what turned out to be a temporary obsession with Catholicism, and had spent much of his adult life in and out of mental hospitals. During his manic spells, he was overtaken by surges of larger-than-life emotion that ended up reflected in his poetry. As Davison describes it: “Ambition, religious passion, poetic genius, and dementia throbbed together in verses that gave off a powerful music, enthralling to some readers but puzzling to others.”

Ron Price
14/6/’13.
0 Replies
 
 

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