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Field – Fall 2007

If as I do, you like to not only read poetry but read about poetry (appreciations, explications, close textual analyses), then you’ll certainly want to delve into the 80-page symposium on Adrienne Rich that begins this volume and the two new poems by Rich that conclude it. In addition to those of Rich, this issue of Field largely favors works by established poets, including Carl Phillips, Marilyn Hacker, David Hernandez, Pattiann Rogers, and David Wojahn. Yet a few emerging poets, such as Megan Synder-Camp and Amit Majmudar, the later a writer of ghazals, have also been given a welcome voice, and translations of poems by Li Qingzhao, Uwe Kolbe, and Amina Saïd give the issue an international flavor as well.

If as I do, you like to not only read poetry but read about poetry (appreciations, explications, close textual analyses), then you’ll certainly want to delve into the 80-page symposium on Adrienne Rich that begins this volume and the two new poems by Rich that conclude it. In addition to those of Rich, this issue of Field largely favors works by established poets, including Carl Phillips, Marilyn Hacker, David Hernandez, Pattiann Rogers, and David Wojahn. Yet a few emerging poets, such as Megan Synder-Camp and Amit Majmudar, the later a writer of ghazals, have also been given a welcome voice, and translations of poems by Li Qingzhao, Uwe Kolbe, and Amina Saïd give the issue an international flavor as well.

There is plenty of verse in this collection that tries to stretch my imagination beyond my ability to analogize, imagine, or “hear,” and so looses me. Conversely, Paula Bohince’s “Toward Happiness” strikes a balance between the reward accrued and the effort required to understand the poem – allowing for immediate pleasure that deepens upon rereading. So too, J.W. Marshall’s “Not Let Across the Hood Canal,” which depicts a surfaced Trident submarine causing a traffic jam, made me grimace in appreciation from the first line: “Like public funded art / it is a threat.”

While I found Jean Gallagher’s “Year in Eleusis” interesting, it made me wonder about poets who must append notes to their poems to make them understandable to today’s readers. If a poem cannot speak for itself, should it be a poem? Maybe the topic is better suited to the essay form? At the same time, I understand the sympathetic but non-specialist reader’s viewpoint on esoteric poetry: without a roadmap we get lost. In that case, I’ll take the MapQuest because I don’t want to risk taking a wrong turn and missing out on what might be a great poem.
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