New Yorker poetry

2 posts

A Sunday Stream of Consciousness


  • It’s Sunday, but there are no Sabbaths for the monkey mind.
  • “Monkey mind” being the enemy of Buddha-like meditation and the friend of poet-like brainstorming-without-a-banana.
  • I kind of like the “free” subscriptions you get when you enter a poetry publication’s annual contest. It kind of makes up for the expense of missing first place by kind of making you deceive yourself about the meaning of “free.”
  • In poetry, you cut to the bone, taking a scalpel to expressions like “kind of,” for starters.
  • While drafting poetry, I have found that many bad long poems are hiding good short poems. Ones in the second trimester or so.
  • I proved this to myself by rewriting a long poem Dickinson-style. All I needed was a few random dashes and capital letters (found in Aisle Emily, bottom shelf, at Ocean State Job Lot).
  • The cover of the October issue of Poetry reminds me of the BeatlesWhite Album.
  • Speaking of, I wonder how Jorie Graham feels about being the centerfold.
  • There’s a new sheriff in town (starring Kevin Young) at The New Yorker. Too bad they had to close submissions on July 3rd. The good news? The market reopens on Nov. 1st, and just because your poems were sent home before doesn’t mean they will again
  • Which reminds me: Poetry is subjective. A lot rides on particular editors’ eyes. If it gets that far.
  • Which is not to say there’s no such thing as “bad poetry” (I often send it to its room without supper).
  • Still trying to get over my prejudice against form poems by reading Ellen Bryant Voigt’s The Art of Syntax.
  • Wasn’t it Ben Franklin who warned about two sure things in life: death and syntaxes?
  • As usual, the list of National Book Awards for Poetry¬†includes books and authors a.) I haven’t read and b.) I haven’t even heard of. Guess I need to listen better.
  • Does anyone still write poems with pencil and paper? I do. But it’s ideas for poems only. Once I start writing, it’s on the trusty word processor.
  • When a poetry manuscript is accepted for publication, the toughest part is starting the next poetry manuscript. Especially with so many laurels lying around, waiting to be rested upon.
  • Poets need more patience than doctors. Can you say “wait time”? As a submitter of your work, you’d better be good at it. The competition is fierce and the numbers are legion.
  • My first love in poetry is predictably Frost.
  • I do not think “Stopping by Woods on Snowy Evening” is corny. So sue me.
  • If you call yourself a reader but don’t read poetry, are you really a reader?
  • If a tree falls in the wilderness, does it make a sound?
  • No and yes.

Cold Comfort: Poems That Make the Big-Time


Reading published poems–especially poems published in the heavyweight division, where you find periodicals like The New Yorker–can be both frustrating and edifying. Before I count the ways, let me share a poem published in the The New Yorker’s Aug. 28th issue:

SON by Craig Morgan Teicher

I don’t even know where my father lives.
I know his number, and whenever
I call he answers and gives
the usual update about getting together
with the stepkids and their kids,
about the latest minor crises
with his health, about what he did
with Maryanne for their anniversary.
He lives somewhere in Connecticut,
near where he lived before.
It’s been easy not to go there, but
I know I should–there won’t always be more
time. There will always be less.
I don’t even know my father’s address.

Here’s the conversation in my head–or shall I say, between my shoulders. You know, the one between the kind angel on the right and the surly devil on the left.

KA: Wow. Heartwarming sonnet. For me, the key line is “I know I should–there won’t always be more time.” It’s a message that resonates for all of us.

SD: Clich√©s resonate, too. That doesn’t mean they deserve a precious three inches in The New Yorker.

KA: Finally, a poem that doesn’t leave your average reader scratching his head! It’s poems like this that can bring poetry back into the mainstream.

SD: Still, a little heft counts for something. This is prosaic, mundane, drab. Editors of lesser magazines would have given it the boilerplate rejection letter upon one reading.

KA: Did you give it a chance? Did you read it more than once? Did you note its form and rhyme? Good poetry merits more than one reading, as you know.

SD: Please. Don’t patronize me just because your shoulder is right. Rereading poetry offers its rewards, but only if there is a challenge or special beauty in the words, not if your father lives in Somewhere, Connecticut.

KA: So you’re jealous, in other words. One of the Seven Deadly Sins.

SD: I’m inspired, actually. One of the Seven Deadly Hopes. If “Son” passes muster in a big glossy like this, then surely I, too, might make a big splash in the Big Apple.

KA: I won’t begrudge you that, though I believe they closed their submissions page on July 3rd and will not open it again until the fall.

SD: Never say the word “fall” around a devil.

KA: Pardonez and moi, Sir, but it gives you that much more time to revise whatever it is you’re working on.

SD: A Shakespearean sonnet called “Daughter,” if you must know. Rhyming more or probably less. The magic number is 14. All other sonnet rules fall into the “As You Like It” department.

KA: Good luck, Son. And don’t forget to abab cdcd efef gg visit your Father! If you can match “Son,” you deserve to be published!