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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Poetry and The New Yorker

David Orr writes an interesting essay in The New York Times about the 'Annals of Poetry'. In it he discusses a recent long article in The New Yorker by Dana Goodyear, a 30 year-old staffer at the magazine. See the entire article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/11/books/review/Orr.t.html?_r=1&8bu&emc=bu&oref=slogin

Here's just one interesting paragraph:

'And then there’s the question of the poems the magazine chooses to run. Granted, picking poems for a national publication is nearly impossible, and The New Yorker’s poetry editor, Alice Quinn, probably does it as well as anyone could. (Quinn is also liked personally, and rightly so, by many poets.) But there are two ways in which The New Yorker’s poem selection indicates the tension between reinforcing the “literariness” of the magazine’s brand and actually saying something interesting about poetry. First, The New Yorker tends to run bad poems by excellent poets. This occurs in part because the magazine has to take Big Names, but many Big Names don’t work in ways that are palatable to The New Yorker’s vast audience (in addition, many well-known poets don’t write what’s known in the poetry world as “the New Yorker poem” — basically an epiphany-centered lyric heavy on words like “water” and “light”). As a result, you get fine writers trying on a style that doesn’t suit them. The Irish poet Michael Longley writes powerful, earthy yet cerebral lines, but you wouldn’t know it from his New Yorker poem “For My Grandson”: “Did you hear the wind in the fluffy chimney?” Yes, the fluffy chimney.'

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