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Poet Lore - Spring/Summer 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 101 Numbers 1/2
  • Published Date: Spring/Summer 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

I don't say this kind of thing very often, but flip to the back and read the essay first. Merrill Leffler's "Poetry: What I Want of It" is a thoughtful exploration of topics many poets struggle with: why am I reading and writing poetry; aren't all these "I" poems just navel-gazing; and what should poetry, ultimately, do for language? For Leffler, what it comes down to is this: "If the language doesn't continue to startle—and startle is not a euphemism for shock—if the poem doesn't give voice to what the language didn't say before, if it doesn't change you in some way, then it won't become a living entity and is (I'm sorry) a mere commercial." Interesting. Many of Poet Lore’s poems captured quiet moments in well-wrought imagery and metaphor; good job, but not always . . . memorable. I preferred the disturbing sadness of Sara Talpox's "On Fire," in which a classroom full of bored students reading Wiesel fail to grasp the horror of the Holocaust. Or the shift in understanding that happens in reading a poem under each of Jack Foster's "Five Titles For One Haiku." Whatever your own taste in poetry, if quality is a consideration, you'll find something to enjoy in Poet Lore.

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Review Posted on September 30, 2006

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