One thing that I am disappointed by in my 'blogging' is my honest lack of interest in the publishing world. Truth be told, I don't read much poetry. My reading habits aside, I pay little attention to who has what coming out when.
This isn't to say I don't absorb some of the information.
The new issue of Poetry arrived today. It has a very beautiful cover by graphic artist Seth. When the new issues come I usually gravitate towards the reviews and letters to the editor first. The poems inside Poetry rarely interest me. A quick run down of who is in the November 2010 issue will tell you why : Donald Hall, Alan Shapiro, Billy Collins. These poets have appeared so many times in these pages that I simply don't care what they are writing anymore. I will give the editors some major credit for including 7 writers who have never appeared in their magazine before. But this is faint praise and a magazine devoted to the art form I care about with as many resources as Poetry has should do better.
Every letter to the editor this month is about a review of Robert Haas' The Apple Trees at Olema by Michael Robbins from the September issue. The review, Are You Smeared with the Juice of Cherries?, is long winded and mostly ambivalent to Haas' writing. I wouldn't go as far as the responses this month do in calling Robbins out for being overtly negative towards an 'elder' poet. I would also not call it a young man pointing a finger at the older and crying foul. A glance at Robbins own poetry leaves me just as cold as Haas' if not more.
Robbins has no warmth, a problem many poets of the Y Generation seem to have. I see that he likes to toss around war, airline security, computers, movies, and a sort of wide overt intellect that is meant to quiet the doubters. This is also a problem with my generation. We like to appear smart, we like to toss around the things that make our grandparents alarmed like they are badges of honor. We are at our core spoiled children throwing an oddly quiet tantrum on the page. And it means nothing.
This is not to say that Robbins is not talented, that my generation or the last or the next are any better in any way. He is talented. Each generation is what it is. History points out that things never actually change we just have slightly different gadgets.
I started this as a sort of quiet tantrum. I was complaining that the same boring poets show up time and again inside the pages of Poetry. I don't take it back. I think that Robbins was responding to the same thing I am. A frustration that the game of poetry seems to be for the over 40 set. That the young have little place in the world of writing poems or talking about them seriously. Was Robbins over reacting in his condemnation of Haas? Probably. But Haas can be dull and can be achingly terrible. So can every poet, Robbins and myself included.