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Place: New Poems

by Jorie Graham

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802283,033 (2.8)None
A collection of poetry explores the role of subjective qualities in guiding people through a world that increasingly devalues human experience, and proposes a renewed recognition of individual value and influence.
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Another vile utter shit book by the current most overrated non-talent "poet" in America. That would describe everything she writes. She, for me, epitomizes EVERYTHING wrong with modern poetry, literary poetry, academic poetry, bullshit poetry, "The Academy," graduates of the Iowa Writers Workshop, snobby caricatures of John Hughes' movie villains in their "in crowd" self-elected positions of judge, jury, executioner of who's in and who's out while writers like she, Donald Hall, Mark Strand and so many other members of the Academy write the most boring, inane crap that -- unless you're in an ivory tower or a horse field -- most people in this country couldn't relate to, probably wouldn't want to relate to, because what they write about has so little to do with LIFE! With people's lives. I published a paper in a juried, peer-reviewed journal quite some time ago on Carl Sandburg's Chicago Poems, arguing that in his depiction of the common man in the bigger cities laboring and sweating to just get by, he might well have been a precursor to the great working class populists who came later, represented by some within the San Francisco Renaissance movement, by some of the Beats, most eminently Charles Bukowski, and many of the Long Beach Poets made famous by Edward Field in his writing in Poets & Writers Magazine. I actually got an interesting, but kind review by an academic who nearly laughed at the person in question, saying when was the last time she'd heard ANYONE (in the "in" crowd) say anything good about Sandburg, BUT she applauded my "courage" in highlighting such an important, forgotten and ignored poet. Yeah. Interesting. That just about sums it up. The establishment couldn't tolerate Ferlinghetti, di Prima, Baraka, Burroughs until, possibly, near the end of their lives and the idea of ANY "respectable" literary journal publishing Bukowski was beyond laughable -- he was routinely rejected for decades. Yet Ferlinghetti's A Coney Island was long the best selling book of poetry in American history. While I was pumping out poetry books, do you know what the average press run of an average book of poetry was -- including these university professors and big name, big shots (the higher end of the averages of course being the best known, most liked and well known poets such as Tony Morrison or Rita Dove, etc., which is fine -- there is no such thing as an average without highs and lows)? Around 750 copies per book. And it was common for the authors to get a certain number. Depending on the publisher, contract, whatever, anywhere from a dozen to 50 or so, usually less. And how many do you think sold out? And how much did poets make in royalties? I wish I had saved copies of my royalty checks like I know some other poets did so we could all have a good laugh somewhere. And we're talking US Poet Laureates! They do make their money!! But not from huge press runs. From grants and awards and fellowships, etc. That's it. So how many of them, including the very greatest, do you think have sold 50,000, 75,000, maybe 100,000 copies of their poetry books in their entire lives? Maybe 5-10%? I feel I'm being generous. Back in the 1980s, A Coney Island of the Mind had already sold 120,000 copies ITSELF! And for a reason. It was more interesting, better written, more experimental, more exciting (and less dull) than the better known and taught in the school poets. It certainly changed my life. And the most popular and best selling poet in American history, if not possibly world history as well? (I don't have these facts in front of me and middle of the night, I don't feel like looking them up, sorry.) Bukowski. He was a top 10 seller in many countries, and most likely sold more books of poetry (and that's not counting his prose) in America as well than anyone else. Why? Cause he was damn REAL and more people could relate to him and Ferling and Locklin and Lifshin and Sandburg than they ever could or would want to to Jorie Graham. Which makes her more of a failure to me. I know academic snobs who will say quantity doesn't begin to equal quality, which to a large extent is true. But then as hard as anyone in any of the social sciences tries to quantify a universally accepted definition of "quality" they simply cannot -- it remains subjective, ultimately -- and the people in the hard sciences know this and try not to vacillate too much between snickering at the social science idiots who take themselves so seriously and at being peeved at the morons like the French postmodern theorists like Foucault, Laccan, Derrida and so on, and I actually have read and am reading books by literal scientists who take issue with people who are eggheads who like to resort to the natural sciences, using big words, expressions, ideas to impress and intimidate the grad students and everyone else in the humanities when they themselves don't understand what the fuck they're talking about and so come off to those that do as superficial twits, trying too hard to make a major impression on people who are ignorant simply because they've not been educated or trained in physics, etc., and some of these scientists are doing the right thing and calling a spade a spade and insist that these humanities demi-gods are brain-dead frauds who don't know a damn thing what they're talking about, so they're impressing the few they reach and are unknown to the rest, yet they think they're in an exclusive club only the "privileged" are allowed to enter when the whole time they're merely a circus sideshow. I hope I don't need to spell out the analogy, but Americans have become so stupid over the past 25 years, I probably should, to a minor degree. Um, these criticisms are valid, I feel, and apply to nearly the entirety of the poetic "Academy," as represented by Jorie Graham, Donald Hall, John Ashbury, Richard Wilbur, Alice Notley, William Matthews, etc. I need to end this so I'll just this one last thing. I found it highly amusing, massively hypocritical and a little disgusting to find the magazines that routinely rejected Bukowski throughout his life started to immediately publish him as soon as his death in 1994. The pinnacle, for me and probably for Buk, if he had known, was the pinnacle of the top journal of poetry in America and American history: Poetry magazine. Now, I've known many people published there and I've known some of the editors and I actually have a funny story about a famous one there a long time named Joe Parisi. Like Buk, I got rejected there too, but I expected to. But Parisi liked me and he liked my work and of course my stuff appeared in "the small press" with so many other populist poets, but I also had a lot published in high profile literary journals too. Nonetheless, I've never forgotten when Parasi told me, "Holstad, I like your stuff, I really do. But there's no way I can publish any of it because as soon as I do, I'll get fired." Hahahahaha!!! Maybe that's what the feeling on Hank was. But while it was good to see Hank finally make Poetry and a bunch of the other bigwig places, it was also ugly because they were riding on the shirttails of the popularity of a newly dead man, a legend with talent and a following none of them would EVER have, so they cashed in while they could and it made me hate them more. So this was my polemic against Jorie Graham, but it's not necessarily personal. I've never met her like I've met some others I've criticized. She just seems to represent nearly everything I hate in mainstream poetry, so I chose her long ago to be my whipping poet. Yes, it's ALWAYS subjective and don't forget it. It's not fucking physics and never will be. ( )
  scottcholstad | Nov 15, 2021 |
Place: New Poems by Jorie Graham, who is a Pulitzer Prize winner (1996), is a collection of poems in five parts that is about not just physical places, but also the place points in our pasts and the places in our soul that can define who we are. Her poetry is clean, clipped, and infused with nature and human perception, espousing the benefits and limitations of humanity.

In part one, the narration talks of places in the moment and in the past and how they change over time based on the perception of the future self. There is a mother and child, an unspoiled relationship and unspoiled being hovering on the “railing” and in the moment. Bask in today, the feeling and the being — each poem seems to say.

Read the full review: http://savvyverseandwit.com/2012/07/place-new-poems-by-jorie-graham.html ( )
  sagustocox | Jul 11, 2012 |
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