Monday, April 03, 2006

One Artist

Taking advantage of the recent publication of her new book and the cover story review in NY Times I chose to continue the celebration of National Poetry Month with Elizabeth Bishop whose poems I cherish. This poem (click to enlarge) and especially the truth of the closing line touched me more than I can remember being moved by any poem previously. I had a recently acquired a degree in History and Political Science and during college had attended very few classes that involved poetry beyond freshman year. The ones that did tended to tread over the familiar ground of the classics or the over-anthologized and we rarely made it to the moderns unless an instructor forced us to read the poetry of the so called 'disenfranchised'. Political poems or poems with an obvious agenda sucked the joy out the whole process for me and so I tended to avoid contemporary poets until after graduation. Bishop's Geography III is one of the collections that expanded my scope to include poets who I came to realize also may have had an agenda but that never let it overshadow or diminish the art.

I also love reading the letters of the literary and Bishop's Collected Letters, One Art , is one the most entertaining volumes of correspondence I have ever dipped into and would recommend it to all who enjoy reading other people's mail.

6 comments:

displacedriverrat said...

funny we've never talked about this (or have we?) - but english professors themselves (rather than political poetry) sucked the joy out of it for me - which is why i changed majors, thank god.

i just now got the previous post's title.

Dexter said...

To Home Decorating and Furntiture Repair if i recall correctly? :)

scruffylooking said...

I did get a B.A. in English, but I never took a poetry class in college. To me, poetry is like wine, I know what I like, but I don't know what makes a poem good by anyone else's standards. People who talk for hours about wine and poetry just sound like pretentious a-holes and they'll ruin a good poem for me every time.

Dexter said...

"The problem is that even bad poetry is sincere."

Bad poetry is like pornography...I may not be able to define it but I recognize it when I see it. Bloom I think was one who said that a basic definition of what is good is something that one is able to be re-read with pleasure.

displacedriverrat said...

that's CONSUMER SCIENCE to you, buddy.

TheGirlWho said...

Hi! Nice to meet you virtually.. We have a few things in common.. I love books, Marah and Pop Matters too!