Thursday, May 30, 2013

Poetry May 1913

The May issue of Poetry's poetry is a poem--one poem, "The Death of Aggripina" by John Neihardt.  It seems like warmed-over Gibbon in verse to me (I'm reading too much New Age, I'm getting snarky). 

The essays are far more interesting.  A digest:

Harriet Monroe's essay "Tradition" seems to really capture the ambivalent stance of Poetry.  She rejects form as a basis for poetry, but locates it in "spiritual motive."  It's capital-arr Romanticism.  There's something almost Italian Futurist about it, tempered with a drop of Thoreau: "If he must inherit also forms and rules--better the free foot in the wilderness, better the upward flight of danger in a monoplane!"

Then, and this blows my mind, she pits the traditionalists against the modernists, which sort of blows up my thesis of her conciliatory approach: "It is in no desire to appease our critics, but to open a free road to one of our strongest poets, that we present this month Mr. Neihardt's essay in poetic tragedy on the old Roman theme.  There may be value in contrast; between April and May the issue is sharply drawn."

She follows this by declaring that John Masefield is in danger of losing himself to his popularity, pointing out that she's published both rave reviews and scathing attacks (Alice Corbin Henderson's attack is later in the issue). 

Speaking of Alice Corbin Henderson, she contributes a short piece about poetic rhythm, which is nice.  I can see it being teachable as a counterpoint to the normative iamb...

Last but not least, Uncle Ez.  He begins his review of Frost's A Boy's Will (his first book!) with the grand proclamation: "There is another personality in the realm of verse, another American..."  I'm writing a poem that quotes part of this review, but more on that in the "realm of verse."

Not the most interesting issue, but it's following up on some really epic ones.  I like, though, the small note that says Poetry would like to buy back some of its first issues, at 25 cents each.  That's a sign of success, right?

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