Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Poetry Magazine's July/August Issue

Now this issue is FUN! From the crossword puzzle to Bruce McCall’s glorious illustrations, I am seriously considering buying a second copy just so I can tack the illustrations on the wall. Of course the poems are enjoyable too, but this issue really grabs my attention because of the unexpected extras. My favorite illustration is Bruce McCall’s Poet in Residence in which you see a poet with unkempt hair and in pajamas sitting on the couch with his notebook holding up a mug for a woman who looks like either his mother or perhaps a maid due to the apron. The couch is roped off and a fatherly figure sits in a cushy chair off to the side. On the coffee table is what looks like a pizza and bottle of wine amongst books and empty cans. It is just a hilarious depiction of poets in general and it is well worth the price of the issue just to have it on hand!

So I guess I should let you know which poems I enjoyed even though I could go on for pages about the other fabulous illustrations and how much I wish I knew about poetry in order to fill in the crossword puzzle without cheating and looking at the back pages to find the answers.

Well, one of the poems I quite enjoyed was Dean Young’s “Selected Recent and New Errors.” Also, you’re in luck, there is a podcast on the Poetry Foundation web-site featuring Dean Young! So please click the link below to listen to more about the July/August issue and Dean Young. If I hadn’t listened to the poem, I wouldn’t know that “Tony” is actually Tony Hoagland. Otherwise, I would have assumed that Tony was a teacher in this poem. Dean Young speaks of his errors and the fact that Tony points them out, and then he balloons out to discuss the enormity of errors, the errors that Tony cannot touch or name. “My books are full of mistakes/but not the ones Tony’s always pointing out/as if correct spelling is what could stop the conveyor belt…” These lines have a sense of humor, but he does interchange with seriousness and morbidity. “My errors are even bigger than that./You start taking down the walls of your house,/sooner or later it’ll collapse…/” Then he says what I think most people would think of their occasional critic: “On mornings when I hope you forget my name,/I walk through the high wet weeds/that don’t have names either.” So although Dean Young admits his mistakes in poems, then expands to include other errors but refers back to the critic by wishing his name was forgotten brings the idea that while errors may affect the person who made them, they are made larger and more burdensome by the critic who mentions them. Not a new concept, of course, but the words and lines he uses are fantastic. “I do not remember what I told you/with your ear in my teeth.” I do love those words: “ear in my teeth.” It gives a great visual and think about the critic listening to the poem and the poet sinking in his teeth as a way of literally striking back, retaliation. His ending is wonderful in that it takes such an unusual and unexpected turn: “We have absolutely no proof/god isn’t an insect.” Doesn’t that make you pause and say “huh?” because it had that effect on me! God, the ultimate critic, is then described “Or boring into us like a yellow jacket…” or “an assassin bug squatting over us,/shoving a proboscis right through/our breast plate then sipping.” Sounds rather violent, doesn’t it? The last line I’ll save for you to listen to on the link below, or read in this issue. This entire poem relates to the creator of the piece and the critic’s critique but the language in which it is approached and explained is divine. I hope you’ll listen to the podcast via the link below, you’ll hear other wonderful poems in the issue along with Dean Young’s who is towards the middle of the podcast.


This is the only poem I will feature for this issue, the podcast gives you such wonderful insight into the poems that I felt the link will do you much more justice than I would. I hope you pick up the issue because it is not only fun but also inspiring and full of surprises.

Thanks always for reading, please stop by tomorrow for more Poems Found by Poet Hound…

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