December 30, 2010

Tone deaf to poetry

I'm clearly an idiot.

I tried reading some of the poems and literary fiction in the Florida Review's Native Issue, but I just…don't…get it.

Reading literary journals feels, at times, like listening to the atonal or dissonant symphonic music of the early-to-mid 20th century. I feel as if I ought to do it, because it's Art. But I don't really enjoy it.

Story becomes subordinate to words that seem strung together not to evoke emotion or meaning, but just because no one ever put them in that order before. As if one took a bunch of vocabulary cards, threw them in the air, and wrote them down without concern for which words are which part of speech.

I started to put an excerpt for you, but I have two concerns. First, and foremost, excerpting a poem runs the risk of violating copyright because even a few lines is a large percentage of the whole.

Second, I'm not sure what this poem is actually about. It might be naughty. Or maybe it's just about yoga. I can't be sure. Clearly, I am an idiot.

But then, I'm not real fond of Stravinsky, either.


  1. I understand you completely. I don't get poetry, either.

  2. This came in from Mr. Lee, by e-mail:

    You need to find better poets. One of my favorite contemporary poets is Marilyn McEntyre. Her web site is:

    Under the tab "Poems," you can read samples of her stuff. I think it helps that she is a deep Christian and much of her poetry is religious or spiritual in nature.

    Try it -- you might like it.

  3. I will say McEntyre writes what I call "real poetry" -- with syntax and meaning. More like Strauss than Stravinsky.