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May 13, 2011

Poetry Friday--Good Poetry/Bad Poetry

This weekend I'm heading to the Mass Poetry Festival that is taking placing in Salem, MA.

Today approximately 600 high school students and their teachers are coming to participate in workshops, listen to poets such as X.J. Kennedy, view a film on spoken language poets, and much more.

Tomorrow there are readings from morning to night--lots of good poetry! One of the readings is by a group of haiku poets, which is taking place at the Japanese Art Gallery of the Peabody Essex Museum. Right up my alley!

There's another session that sounds intriguing--"Bad Poetry with Steve Almond." Almond, a particularly good nonfiction writer, has published a small book of poems with explanatory notes under the title, Bad Poetry. A blurb by Matthew Zapruder on the back cover states,
In Bad Poetry, Almond makes incisive observations about metaphor, enjambment, compound words, and the dubious ethics of appropriating suffering. Yet it is also the case that the poems assembled here are truly quite bad.
Okay, I'll let you judge for yourself. This is an excerpt from "The Fruit Standkeeper, Wroclaw"
His hands are a thing of beauty,
long, thick fingers moving in webs
grazing apples and onions
settling each into the rusted cradle
of his scale, the needle's soft bounce
It is as if God composed these hands, or Mozart
They are not made for numbers
and trip crudely on the abstract
It continues for two more stanzas.

And here is part of Almond's note of explanation:
As the title suggests, this one was birthed during my one and only summer in Poland. I'd gone over there to pursue a doomed love affair, which is how I knew I was a Bad Poet. That and the body odor.
Can you see why I have "Bad Poetry with Steve Almond" on my schedule?

[Note: I heard Almond speak recently at the NH Writers' Project annual Writers' Day. He explained that he now self-publishes his own work using the Espresso Book Machine® at the Harvard Coop! He may be a bad poet, but he's a real forward-thinking kind of guy!]

I hope to see a lot of you Massachusetts and New Hampshire poetry lovers in Salem tomorrow! And, if I find why the planners decided upon the above design for the festival--with its splashes of blood it looks more like something for a mystery writers day--I'll let you know. I know it's not blood, but what poet still uses a quill, or even a fountain pen?

Today, the Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup. Yummy!

1 comment:

  1. Wish I was there! I'm looking forward to a complete report. Andy