July 10, 2011

Figured I might as well name the extraordinary women poets I'm talking about. First is Catherine Sasanov, who's given us ALL THE BLOOD TETHERS, a great book. I can't think of another contemporary poet from whom I've learned more. Catherine never lets her first person singular narrator off the hook, no special pleading. Her Gemma poems are great (and dense), anything by her.

Elizabeth Beasley. We've just done a chapbook by her; it's called "Quickenings." Exciting talent and execution there. Pretty "new Christian" in that there's so much joy, less suffering. But who's writing better Christian poetry? I can't think of anybody. Great work.

Mary Dixon. She did "Eucharist, the Way" for us. Very dense and beautiful poetry, with as much closure as openness. Distilled! Again, great poetry. She came and read for us: super teacher as well as wonderful poet. Lovely person.

Sophia M. Starns. We're going to do a chapbook from her this year if we can get together. Again, great and distilled work. She's won so many awards and contests--and justifiably so. It takes me a lot of time to wait for myself to catch up to what she seems to be doing in so many of her poems. But waiting never did anyone any harm.

All are so good, though I must confess that Yeats and Eliot seem so much easier to latch onto--maybe because I've had more practice there! (Reminds me of a Bob Dylan quote when somebody asked him who could sit through three hours of RENALDO AND CLARA. He said something along the lines of, well, nobody has THAT much to do.)

July 9, 2011

I've been reading some extraordinary women Christian poets of late, but I wonder if contemporary poetry has to be so obscure? Since I'll be doing Yeats in the fall, I've started reading his COLLECTED, and though CROSSWAYS is maybe too romantic in its longing and sorrow, still, it's great poetry and it's clear! Great writing it seems to me. The phenomenon reminds me of a quote by Frost. He said having been a teacher, he had to make himself understood . . . and that put him among poets who wanted to be understood!

The poets I'm talking about are excellent, but I can't help wondering what's behind the opaqueness. A desire for excellence, yes (and achieved!); but maybe some Puritan proof as well? I remember reading somewhere that Yeats said some slack lines were absolutely necessary. In any case, I want his sacramental depth, but revelations of humility and wisdom too. With God all things are possible!

Also, some good news. Debra Murphy is going to do a second edition of MARY'S HOUSE with Idylls, an e-book, which I'm excited about. It's easier to reach more people that way, so may God bless it. I've redone the "Some Kind of Pilgrim" section, turned to poems into rhyme and meter, plus I've added the best versions of "Prothalamion" and "Peter Maurin" I could come up with, another poem in the first and last section; but the big addition will be @ 50 new pp. of FIORETTI poems. (Now that I don't have them in front of me I'm very excited. I think they are quite good.)