American Poetry [Gerry LaFemina]

In Memory of Thomas Lux

I recognize these claims I make are not science-based. I praise American poetry’s diversity for its diversity is its strength. Each poem conceived in a climax of inspiration—an image or an overheard phrase, or a word banned by bureaucrats, committees or point-totaling politicians, or you name it. Then the gestation of drafts.

I’m aware this is a terrible metaphor, but the poem becomes fetus and eventually gets its entitlement of a title. Most Americans don’t care, don’t read poems any more than they read medical journals. They remain ambivalent about peer reviews. Not that it matters.

Nor does it matter that sometimes revisions are transgenre-d—prose poems longing for lineation and vice versa: verse (free and formal both) believing it should be a paragraph, wanting only the cadence of the sentence. How vulnerable each word, each syllable. What evidence-based claims might the critics down the hall make with their deconstructions about these matters? I couldn’t construct their hypotheses or their outcomes, only know the myths of their methodologies. I wouldn’t want anything else. I recognize my claims are not science-based, but I praise American poetry for its diversity. Its diversity is its strength.

 

Gerry LaFemina’s newest collection of poetry, The Story of Ash, is forthcoming in 2018. His other books include numerous collections of poetry, prose poetry, and fiction, as well as Palpable Magic: Essays on Poetry and Prosody and the textbook Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically. He is an Associate Professor of English at Frostburg State University, and a writing mentor at the Carlow University MFA program.

Inspiration: My initial impulse was to pass on this project because I felt the pull to write a poem that was pedantic would be too hard to resist. It was only when looking at the word transgender and seeing how,  with a slight juxtaposition of letters, it could become transgenred that I found my “in” into the poem, which was to celebrate American poetry in all its amazing diversity, thus avoiding some of those potential pitfalls.

 

Wild [Mark Kerstetter]

How many fetuses lie behind the word fool? You don’t address the wild. You moulder under your mind’s shadow, squirming worm-white amongst your diversity of small truths, vulnerable to the sun, or so you thought thought thought, turning at right angles past evidence-based ephemera ever inward, always away from the science-based truth capable of burning away your precious mysteries, thinking it’ll kill you with an excess of life if you let it, but you won’t, you’ve hidden too far to catch yourself out but not so far you can’t see your own wilderness reflecting imperfectly the real wild that eats pieces of you as your entitlements fall off, and then you realize that the real wild stays the same as you get smaller and smaller, falling away in increments parceled out according to a system which you’ll never, ever, understand, packed to your walls, wheels spinning while even transgendered others learn what it means to be a man. Give up. Give up, fool! Look wild in the eye and meet your maker. But don’t address it. For once in your life keep your mouth shut. If it helps, drop to your knees. Use the eyes in the back of your head and see the miles trailing back into the baby blue of beyond, before you were named.

 

Mark Kerstetter is the author of One Step: prayers and curses and blogs at The Mockingbird Sings: https://marktkerstetter.wordpress.com

Inspiration: As a victim in childhood of verbal abuse and the authoritarian discourse of fundamentalist religion, I have always been sensitive to abuses of language and those who attempt to use language to control others.

 

American Poetry [Gerry LaFemina]

In Memory of Thomas Lux

I recognize these claims I make are not science-based. I praise American poetry’s diversity for its diversity is its strength. Each poem conceived in a climax of inspiration—an image or an overheard phrase, or a word banned by bureaucrats, committees or point-totaling politicians, or you name it. Then the gestation of drafts.

I’m aware this is a terrible metaphor, but the poem becomes fetus and eventually gets its entitlement of a title. Most Americans don’t care, don’t read poems any more than they read medical journals. They remain ambivalent about peer reviews. Not that it matters.

Nor does it matter that sometimes revisions are transgenre-d—prose poems longing for lineation and vice versa: verse (free and formal both) believing it should be a paragraph, wanting only the cadence of the sentence. How vulnerable each word, each syllable. What evidence-based claims might the critics down the hall make with their deconstructions about these matters? I couldn’t construct their hypotheses or their outcomes, only know the myths of their methodologies. I wouldn’t want anything else. I recognize my claims are not science-based, but I praise American poetry for its diversity. Its diversity is its strength.

 

Gerry LaFemina’s newest collection of poetry, The Story of Ash, is forthcoming in 2018. His other books include numerous collections of poetry, prose poetry, and fiction, as well as Palpable Magic: Essays on Poetry and Prosody and the textbook Composing Poetry: A Guide to Writing Poems and Thinking Lyrically. He is an Associate Professor of English at Frostburg State University, and a writing mentor at the Carlow University MFA program.

Inspiration: My initial impulse was to pass on this project because I felt the pull to write a poem that was pedantic would be too hard to resist. It was only when looking at the word transgender and seeing how,  with a slight juxtaposition of letters, it could become transgenred that I found my “in” into the poem, which was to celebrate American poetry in all its amazing diversity, thus avoiding some of those potential pitfalls.