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US Names 19th Poet Laureate
June 7, 2012 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Natasha Trethewey has been named the 19th US Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by the Library of Congress. The NY Times has published a selection of her poems. Meanwhile, the NY Daily News wonders: Do we still need a U.S. Poet Laureate? More freely available poems here.
posted by GnomeChompsky (23 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
Those NYT poems were quite nice, thanks. The NY Daily News piece made me want to find the guy who wrote it and fill his office with ping pong balls up to the very top.
posted by facetious at 5:59 PM on June 7, 2012


Do we still need the NY Daily News?
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:02 PM on June 7, 2012 [8 favorites]


The DN is run by the Murdoch Piracy Organization (Motto: "ARRR! We're plunder what we wanna plunder! Arrr!") and the current editor in chief was the e-i-c of News of the World until it folded, so I fully expect their position to be hatred for such things.

But the one comment on the story in the DN so far is really quite insightful:

"Perhaps we need a poet laureate for exactly the reasons you suggest we don't. Because we don't read enough poetry or listen to too few poets or read far too little, it seems the need for a poet laureate is even greater. "
posted by mephron at 6:05 PM on June 7, 2012


"Need" is a tricky, leading word. We don't technically need anything more than food, water and oxygen, but beyond that there is that which makes life worth living.
posted by JHarris at 6:07 PM on June 7, 2012


Metafilter: beyond that there is that which makes life worth living
posted by Renoroc at 6:10 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


The DN is run by the Murdoch Piracy Organization (Motto: "ARRR! We're plunder what we wanna plunder! Arrr!") and the current editor in chief was the e-i-c of News of the World until it folded, so I fully expect their position to be hatred for such things.

No, the Daily News is owned by Mort Zuckerman. They picked up Colin Myler after News Corporation fired him.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 6:21 PM on June 7, 2012


Pastorals again, in the same broken lined, forced enjambments, avoiding controversy or innovation---nice seems to be the right word. This might be one of those weird circumstances where choosing a white male (say Ron Silliman or Joshua Clover or Charles Bernstein, for example) might be slightly more progressive. (Not that they couldn't find a woman who is doing something equally interesting--(Fanny Howe or Elaine Equi or Alice Notely) or they could work on having both (Jayne Cortez or Susan Sanchez)

Pilgrimage is a terrible poem.
posted by PinkMoose at 6:23 PM on June 7, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because we don't read enough poetry or listen to too few poets or read far too little

What is the reccomended daily poetry dosage?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:28 PM on June 7, 2012


Trethewey was already scheduled to read in my part of the world this summer, so I pricked up my ears when I heard the news today. Turns out she'll be here right when we're going away for vacation. (I bailed when she appeared at the same venue back in the late 90s.)

And God help me, I heard myself say that I guess my collection of books signed by poets laureate is going to be stuck at 12 for a while. I thought. I couldn't remember. And I'm embarrassed about how much better I felt when I got home and could verify for sure.

(11, it turned out. 11 poets laureate, that is--a couple signed more than one book.)
posted by dlugoczaj at 6:28 PM on June 7, 2012


Yes, this is a pretty lame choice, especially after they raised the bar with Levine last year. But somehow I can't really bring myself to get too worked up about it. Since half of the idea of the laureate's role is to be poetry's ambassador to the world of people who don't read poetry, maybe an easy, cozy poet whose work flatters the audience is sometimes a good choice.
posted by RogerB at 6:33 PM on June 7, 2012


Incidentally, the trolly Daily News piece is by Alexander Nazaryan, who's been discussed here previously.
posted by RogerB at 7:04 PM on June 7, 2012


I heard Tretheway read "Hot Combs" on NPR this afternoon, and I found her delivery to be way over-the-top breathless. The poem didn't impress me much either. But yay for poetry in general.
posted by reverend cuttle at 7:05 PM on June 7, 2012


The idea that someone would argue for Philip Levine as raising the bar as a non-cozy poet is hilarious.
posted by johnasdf at 10:04 PM on June 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


From the article;

"You can always tells that a country deeply cares about its poets if it is willing to kill them. Here, it is opposite."


Please do go on Mr Nazaryan. I can't wait to see where this train of thought of yours ends.
posted by Effigy2000 at 2:44 AM on June 8, 2012


Even Brooklyn, poor old Brooklyn, has a poet laureate all of its own.

Who wouldn't want to be poet laureate of Brooklyn? Just discovering that there is one has cheered me up quite a bit.
posted by Segundus at 4:43 AM on June 8, 2012


I think some of her cemetery poems are lovely. Also, Decatur, GA, where Ms. Trethewey and I both live threw her a party yesterday because that's just the kind of place it is.
posted by hydropsyche at 5:40 AM on June 8, 2012


Why in the hell did we ever need a Poet Laureate? Let's go to the LoC website:

The Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress serves as the nation's official lightning rod for the poetic impulse of Americans.

ROFL poetic impulse of Americans.

The Laureate receives a $35,000 annual stipend funded by a gift from Archer M. Huntington.

Ah, there you go. It was an endowment by an heir of a Robber Baron who was trying to buy his way into cultural significance.

I think we need a:

Gourmand Laureate
Makeup Laureate
Watchmaking Laureate
Ballroom Dancing Laureate
Mime Laureate
Maple Syrup Tapping Laureate
Marching Band Laureate
Glass Blowing Laureate
Musical Saw Laureate
posted by charlie don't surf at 6:08 AM on June 8, 2012


Well, she's better than Collins and Kooser, I guess. Simic's about the only poet laureate of the last 25 years I find interesting. (Maybe Hass too, but his body of work was too thin for him to have been made p.l.) To whoever suggested Charles Bernstein or Alice Notley upthread -- amen! -- but I don't expect to live to see poets with style or content like theirs get such an honor (despite Rae Armantrout's surprising Pulitzer a couple years back).
posted by aught at 6:09 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


ROFL poetic impulse of Americans.

Speaking as a poet who grew up in suburban America, the actual lightning rod for the poetic impulse of most Americans is actually Hallmark Cards. (It grieves me to say that in all seriousness.)
posted by aught at 6:11 AM on June 8, 2012


Congratulations to Ms. Trethewey!

I have such a love/hate relationship with poetry. On the one hand, there have been some amazing poems out there! They've CHANGED! MY! LIFE!, the way that stuff does when you're young and find your first Norton's Anthology and you're impressionable and can't help but find yourself molded by every emotional force that thrusts itself into your life.

But on the other hand. SO MUCH BAD POETRY. Cringeworthy stuff that should have been left scrawled on the back of someone's Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper. And it gets exponentially worse when a poet reads his own work, with that awkward halting meter, stressing syllables and words in unnatural ways, whispered as if it was meant to be a prayer to some.

Have you ever heard Robert Frost read his poems? He sounds bored. I love that.
posted by jph at 7:19 AM on June 8, 2012


God, Equi or Notley as PL!--a girl can dream. Hell, I'd take Larissa Szporluk too.
posted by ifjuly at 9:21 AM on June 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Regarding the NY Daily News article, I find getting mad at the existence of a Poet Laureate position because Americans don't care enough about poetry to be really weird and counterproductive.

Hey, you know what else most Americans don't care much about? History and old books. Let's get rid of the Library of Congress, then.
posted by treepour at 3:35 PM on June 8, 2012


Engaging people about poetry is a tough job. I hope Trethewey gets to meet a lot of people who will share an interest in poems later.
posted by dragonplayer at 6:27 PM on June 9, 2012


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