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Poetry, 75th Anniversary Issue:…
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Poetry, 75th Anniversary Issue: October-November 1987. (1987)

by Joseph Parisi

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58. Poetry : October-November 1987 (75th Anniversary) (242 pages, read Aug 29 – Nov 7)

This was not a collection of the best poems over 75 years, but a collection of all new poems from Poetry Magazine's favorite active poets (at that time). I can't say enough how much I gained from this collection. The quality is consistently so good, that is left a mark. Poetry Magazine's sense of what is great is poetry has varied with each main editor, but not all that much. It seems they consistently focus on the rhythm these poets strive for in the English language. And I notice, having slowing accumulated some volume of poetry in my shaky forgetful head, that this rhythm isn't always there, even in very good poetry. It's a difficult thing to accomplish, and it's a limit that provides of poem with an elemental power outside the meaning of the words, where the sound of the words and rhythm can actually have a stronger affect than the meaning, where perhaps they are the meaning.

What the heck am I trying to say? That paragraph is a fail. Some quotes:

M. L. Rosenthal about editor (1955-1969) Henry Rago : "Deeply read in philosophy, he also had a true poetic ear—could catch the drift and shifting tones of a poem quickly, on its terms, not his own, regardless of whether he sympathized. I doubt I've met more than five or six such readers in a lifetime."

A letter to Carole Oles from then editor John Nims (main editor 1978-1984) about a selection of poems she submitted: "We could publish them without disgracing us or you—they're good poems. But they don't seem you at the very top of your form. O.K. Oles, but not optimal Oles...We really like to print your poems but we like your best poems best."

Among the many names here are: Ai, John Ashberry, Robert Bly, Hayden Carruth, James Dickey (wow, good stuff here), Albert Goldbarth, Erica Jong, X. J. Kennedy, Philip Levine, William Meredith, James Merrill, W. S. Merwin, John Frederick Nims, Joyce Carol Oates, Sharon Olds, Carole Oles, Mary Oliver, Robert Philips, Robert Pinsky, Adrienne Rich, Karl Shapiro, Charles Simic (but accessible stuff), Dave Smith, Mark Strand, Richard Wilbur...and these are just names clueless me recognizes. Among my favorite poems were ones by James Dickey, Gregory Djanikian, Howard Moss, Lisel Mueller, Adrienne Rich, Katherine Soniat, Henry Taylor, Mary Ann Waters, Roger Weingarten, and Richard Wilbur.

I think it's all available free on the Poetry website here: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/toc/896

(You can find this review on my LT thread here: http://www.librarything.com/topic/138560#3771916 ) ( )
1 vote dchaikin | Dec 24, 2012 |
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