Long time, no see. Almost two months, actually. But that does not matter. University finally started again last week and that’s good. I’m taking a song and poetry writing workshop and the Daily Poem Project is part of the course’s program again. I’ve already participated in two of those and loved it.
If you want to know what DPP is click on the link. You can cast your twelve weekly votes there as well. Just leave a comment. In a nutshell, we’re trying to find the best of the poems that are uploaded on Poetry Daily from March 26 to June 17.
I’m going to try and write a little something about every weekly batch of poems and justify my own vote. I’m curious myself how this is going to work out.
On another note, it’s National Poetry Month in the U.S. right now and a bunch of publishers are sending out daily newsletters with poems and other info on very recent publications of verse. The ones from the Academy of American Poets and Knopf Poetry are just two among many.
But now to my comments on the first seven poems of DPP:
Number one is Christian Wiman, “The River.” My note says: “last phrase makes the difference, but that’s it.” It’s not an amazing poem. I can’t really pin down what it is. The one thing that’s nice about it is “my father, whom I have almost / forgotten, breaks this silence.” After all that crocodile brutality in Africa, this phrase really grabs your attention and pulls you back down. “But that’s it.”
Next in line is Derek Walcott, “The Castaway.” This is a truly beautiful piece by an old poet who is not as famous as he should be. Stanza four:
Blowing sand, thin as smoke,
Bored, shifts its dunes.
The surf tires of its castles like a child.
What more can you ask for? Sand that is not boring but bored itself. The slight change of register opens tons of questions.
The third poem is Linda Gregerson, “Spring Snow.” There’s not much I can say about this one. My note: “some nice images hidden in too distracting poem; too many styles/tools.”
Susan Tichy, “Couplet” is next. I don’t very much like it. “Soso; not ‘poetic’ enough” say my scribbles. It would work a lot better as a very short story, or flash fiction, as it is called.
Number five goes to Robert Kelly, “Rembrandt’s Raising of Lazarus, 1642.” I couldn’t be more specific than in my handwritten comment: “No…”
The sixth one is better again. Lee Slonimsky, “Burial of the Sun” is the only poem of those seven that rhymes consistently. There are also some nice images and the sound is quite pleasant.
Last in line is Hailey Leithauser, “Coo.” It’s another one with an extremely telling comment of mine: “Well…” It just doesn’t seem to work. Simple as that.
It is interesting to see that there are two “river” poems in the same week (Wiman and Tichy) and that both of them have a justified text alignment. Just something weird I noticed. Also, Chris Wiman already had poems of his in the two previous Daily Poem Projects. He’s a frequent choice of the editors at Poetry Daily. I wonder why that is.
As you can probably tell, my favorite poem of the first week is Derek Walcott’s “The Castaway.” There’s no better way to start off on a project like this. Thanks Mr. Walcott.