This will seem a tangent - because it is - but the article touches on the 'operation' of poetry.
Ah, I see it only on the New Yorker site as an abstract, but I'll be glad to photocopy and mail the article to any who are interested in reading the whole thing.
(Or you can buy an issue online).
C. D. Wright’s “One with Others.”
by Dan Chiasson
JANUARY 3, 2011
The New Yorker, January 3, 2011, p. 68
Read the full text of this article in the digital edition. (Subscription required.)
review of C. D. Wright’s “One with Others” (Copper Canyon; $20).
In August, 1969, a Memphis man known as Sweet Willie Wine led a group of black men on a four-day March Against Fear, from West Memphis to Little Rock, passing through the small towns of the Arkansas delta. “One with Others,” the Arkansas-born poet C. D. Wright’s new, book-length poem, tells the story of the march, and of the only outsider to join it, a small-town white woman, Margaret Kaelin McHugh, whom Wright calls V. The gnomic title suggests the bargain that V made: the act that momentarily unified her with others permanently singled her out. Becoming “one with others,” she ended up a pariah—one with others. The book is foremost an elegy for McHugh, whom Wright, in interviews, has described as “a giant of my imagination, an autodidact, deeply literary, an outraged citizen, a killingly funny, irresistible human.” Anyone writing about this subject quickly runs into some representational problems. The era has been so memorably captured in documentaries that, even when you imagine it, you end up drifting into documentary conventions. It turns out that the literary genre least likely to get in the way of this story is poetry, which, despite its reputation for gilt and taffeta, comfortably veers close to “documentary” conventions. It comes especially close in Wright’s angular strain of postmodern poetry, which draws on refractive techniques now a hundred years old: collage, extensive quotation, multiplicity of voice and tone, found material, and, often, a non-authorial, disinterested stance. “One with Others” represents Wright’s most audacious experiment yet in loading up lyric with evidentiary fact. An affecting element of this book is the way its elegiac impulses accord with, even as they chafe against, the documentary impulses. Elegies are often accounts of searching for, and discovering, the ancient consolations, among them poetry. And so we have, alongside Wright’s litanies of children born, grape salads made, bridge games played, cigarettes smoked, and bourbon imbibed, a competing order of symbol and convention, which makes it possible for subjects otherwise scrupulously real to seem oddly mythic.
Osso - I hate long paragraphs, grrrr, but that seems to be the mode of abstracts.
Read more http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/books/2011/01/03/110103crbo_books_chiasson#ixzz1ANthKmmO