June 22, 2011

Can great poetry be written in this postmodern period. Probably, but if so I suspect it will happen far removed from any writing program. Boland's "company of poets" has done poetry in. Everywhere you look, there's great technique without an informing vision. How else can one fit in, be recognized, find publication? It's sad. A buddy of mine gave me some fiction to look at, a Richard Russo book. Great writing, but you can hear the Carver in the background--and is it just me, or is this typical in PWP (post writing program) fictional work? Seems to be.

I've said it before: the most interesting contemporary Christian poetry I've read is Fr. David May's. Not because of its technical virtuosity, but because it's valuable poetry. It's as if you're sniffing the trail of someone who is on the road to sainthood: the contextualized suffering (of suffering rightly endured), the accurate sense of the narrator self, the emphasis on what matters. As I said when introducing him, this is the direction that poetry has to go.

I don't know if we'll see the likes of Yeats and Stevens, Eliot and Frost again; but think of how unique each was. I once heard a Jeffrey Pearl argue that fascism helped make great poetry, and that democracy undid it. Certainly a strong sense of self, away from the main, is necessary. But most importantly here we should see that it's the heart of Life, the heart of Jesus who will do more to create lasting poetry than any lesser thing. The great modernists are worth reading because each is greater than the often terrible errors which blotch the work. Each is a testimony to the greatness of God who only creates individuals (Malamud!), who never created a "company" of anything. That's Ford.