21st Century Literature discussion

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Question of the Week > Your Favorite 21st Century Poet/Poem? (6/28/18)

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message 1: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2880 comments Mod
Share with us your favorite 21st century poet(s). Share some of your favorite 21st century poems. Or do both!


message 2: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Interesting that you should post this today, Marc. I am looking for a 21st century poem that would be an effective counterpoint to Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, " and my own knowledge of poetry is so limited I can't even think where to start this morning. So I will throw it out to this column....


message 3: by Clarke (new)

Clarke Owens | 123 comments Can't say that I've read a lot of very young poets, but I recently read Linda Pastan's collection "Insomnia," published in 2015, and liked it very much. . .
So, Lily, you're interested in a counterpoint to Gray's Elegy. Do you mean a poem that answers or in some way refutes Gray?


message 4: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2880 comments Mod
Lily, when you say counterpoint, do you mean in terms of subject matter or in terms of widespread acceptance/accolades? Either is an interesting question. Neither is one to which I have an answer. Poetry has a lot more literature to compete with these days, not to mention other forms of art and entertainment.


message 5: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 293 comments Great idea, Marc. I'm looking forward to what is shared!

I'm afraid I have no help for Lily, but here's two of my favorites, with links to a poem of theirs on the Poetry Foundation website:
Andrei Codrescu, A Geography of Poets, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...
Nikki Giovanni, Legacies, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...

I also loved Mary Oliver's collection Dog Songs


message 6: by Caroline (new)

Caroline (cedickie) | 384 comments Mod
I'm excited to see what others share!

Kathleen - I haven't read any of Mary Oliver's collections but I've really liked the poems and essays of hers that I've read. She is brilliant when it comes to writing about our relationship with nature.

I've been reading a bunch of 20th century poetry, and have been working my way through most of Wallace Stevens' work the last few months, but am not aware of too many 21st century poets just yet. One I've really loved is Ocean Vuong. I first encountered him through a personal essay in the New Yorker and then read his collection Night Sky with Exit Wounds. I'm eager to read more of his work.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Thanks so much for the Mary Oliver recommendation!


message 10: by Lark (last edited Jun 29, 2018 11:24AM) (new)

Lark Benobi (larkbenobi) | 249 comments Fady Joudah.

Here is a link to Sleeping Trees, first published in Hayden's Ferry in 2002:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem...

Here is more information:

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poet...

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2...


message 11: by Lily (last edited Jun 29, 2018 02:36PM) (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Marc wrote: "Lily, when you say counterpoint, do you mean in terms of subject matter or in terms of widespread acceptance/accolades? Either is an interesting question. Neither is one to which I have an answer. ..."

I don't know that I can fully answer your question or even know what I would be seeking; more the ole' recognize if seen...

What we have been wrestling with on the Western Canon board, as we mourn the loss of our founder and long time moderator, and use Gray's Elegy as an interim read between major reads, is the very different world within which Gray speaks of death than the world within which so many of us live, and die, today. Some things are the same: the dignity of the death that comes to all, the worth of lives regardless of the pomp and circumstance or wealth that may have encircled them. But somehow, the closeness to the cycles of nature and the earth seems to feel "missing."

Perhaps I shall go fetch my copy of Jerome Rothenberg's Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 2: Modern and Postmodern Poetry from Postwar to Millennium, if I can only find it!? And I am not sure it has what I seek. Perhaps Marilynne Robinson, if she wrote poetry?


message 12: by Stephen (new)

Stephen | 23 comments I don't read enough poetry. But two poems I love are 'When death comes' by Mary Oliver and 'The place where we are right' by Yehuda Amichi.


message 13: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Stephen wrote: "I don't read enough poetry. But two poems I love are 'When death comes' by Mary Oliver and 'The place where we are right' by Yehuda Amichi."

'When death comes' by Mary Oliver: http://www.phys.unm.edu/~tw/fas/yits/...

Thank you, Stephen. You have touched, at least a bit, what I was looking for as a counterpoint to Gray's Elegy. I should have known to go look among Oliver's work. (Someone else has suggested Dylan Thomas: https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/d...)

(You led me to go find Amichi:
https://onbeing.org/blog/the-place-wh...


message 14: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2880 comments Mod
Kathleen, I really like this stanza from the Codrescu poem you posted:
this is america
you get hurt where you are born
you make poetry out of it
as far from home as you can get
you die somewhere in between
(I've read one of his novels--Wakefield--and heard him on the radio, but never actually heard or read any of his poetry!)

I've always enjoyed Nikki Giovanni. I actually took her writing classes at Virginia Tech and didn't even know who she was when I first signed up back in the '90s!

Great sharing all around in this thread. Keep'em coming!


message 15: by Lia (new)

Lia Lily wrote: "Interesting that you should post this today, Marc. I am looking for a 21st century poem that would be an effective counterpoint to Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, " and my own knowle..."

Hi Lily,

I know you asked for 21st century, I hope it’s alright if I respond with something a little older.

I understand Mr. Everyman was also an admirer of T.S. Eliot, if you’re looking for a more modern meditation on Mr Gray’s Elegy (but not quite 21st century), I highly recommend Eliot’s Four Quartets. There’s considerable evidence to suggest Eliot evolved Four Quartets from Gray’s Elegy. At the very least, there are obvious verbal echoes.

Most significantly, I think Eliot expanded on Gray’s meditation on stillness, on time as medium of life, on intense awareness of mortality, on inherent contradictions in the human experience of time.

Like Gray’s Churchyard, Eliot’s poems repeatedly reach for that quiet, neglected space that is continuous with the madding urban crowd around it, a quiet space that makes it possible for the anxious perceiver to both be in time and perceive his temporal situation in the world. It is a meditation on the kind of space where the stillness of death intersects with the atemporal: the peace of God, the life beyond. A space where the speaker can transcend the rational, where the linearly temporal time-scheme intersects with the timeless. The present moment intersects with the past, future, possible, permanent, or eternal. Where paradox can stand, where the impossible is actual, where experience eludes logical categories, where the darkness is the light, the stillness is the dancing.

I’m very sorry for your loss, Everyman seemed like a remarkable man, I only wish I had the privilege to get to know him sooner. I hope the virtual space he curated can also become that kind of quiet space for his friends, where time is not only a destroyer but also a preserver.


message 16: by Lily (new)

Lily (joy1) | 2503 comments Lia wrote: "if you’re looking for a more modern meditation on Mr Gray’s Elegy (but not quite 21st century), I highly recommend Eliot’s Four Quartets...."

Thank you for your suggestion, Lia. I am more familiar with Eliot's "Wasteland" than his "Four Quartets." Another piece of literature to explore. Again, thank you for your kind and thoughtful response.


message 17: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 293 comments Marc wrote: "Kathleen, I really like this stanza from the Codrescu poem you posted:this is america
you get hurt where you are born
you make poetry out of it
as far from home as you can get
you die somewhere in ..."


I'm glad you found something in the Codrescu, Marc. He has a unique voice! And I'm so jealous about your Nikki Giovanni class. Wow--that must have been special.

I'm thoroughly enjoying the recommendations here.


message 18: by Marc (new)

Marc (monkeelino) | 2880 comments Mod
I was blown away by Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric (cover actually caught my eye in the grocery store and I snatched a seat by the pharmacy and read almost the whole thing in the store). Here's a recent one of her poems from the New Yorker: "Sound & Fury"

Frederick Seidel is another poet whose 21st century work (Ooga-Booga: Poems really struck a chord with me.

Had not heard of Stephen's rec, but apparently "Yehuda Amichai is widely regarded as Israel’s greatest modern poet. If you read “The Place Where We Are Right” while remembering the political context in which it was written, the poem’s power multiplies."

The Place Where We Are Right
by Yehuda Amichai

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the Spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plough.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.


Nadine in California (nadinekc) | 477 comments Marc wrote: " If you read “The Place Where We Are Right” while remembering the political context in which it was written, the poem’s power multiplies..."

Thanks for sharing that, Marc. I feel like people can forget how many Israeli's and Jews around the world feel this way.


message 20: by Whitney (new)

Whitney | 2252 comments Mod
Stephen wrote: "I don't read enough poetry. But two poems I love are 'When death comes' by Mary Oliver and 'The place where we are right' by Yehuda Amichi."

Poetry is an area I have neglected horribly. Both these poems are amazing, thanks for sharing them. And thanks for starting this thread, Marc!


message 21: by Lia (new)

Lia Lily wrote: "Interesting that you should post this today, Marc. I am looking for a 21st century poem that would be an effective counterpoint to Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, " and my own knowle..."

Hi again Lily,

I found something contemporary (21CE).

Depending on how you interpret Gray’s Elegy, the connection is maybe tenuous. If you read Gray as a neoplatonist, and death as the release of soul from the quotidian, you might find Anne Carson’s Decreation a relatable further development.

It's probably not for everyone though. Certainly, the syntax (!?) is radically "different." Here's an example

Decreation_Aria




message 22: by Stephen (new)

Stephen | 23 comments On Thursday 17th January Mary Oliver died. I came across this article that is well worth reading.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/irrever...


message 23: by LindaJ^ (new)

LindaJ^ (lindajs) | 2448 comments Thanks Stephen. Mary Oliver's voice will be missed.


message 24: by Kathleen (new)

Kathleen | 293 comments Stephen wrote: "On Thursday 17th January Mary Oliver died. I came across this article that is well worth reading.

https://www.patheos.com/blogs/irrever......"


Thank you so much for sharing this link, Stephen. Sad that another great voice is stilled, but this article is inspiring. The quote at the end gave me chills.


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