reading Merwin


Much of today’s contemporary poets focus on the minutiae of mundane life, which still acts as a needed corrective to the often highfalutin conceptual, or melodramatic poetry of yore. However, as often happens when a culture reacts to an overbearing style, it attempts to negate it completely. Consequently, we go overboard in our zealousness so that we dismiss even the more redemptive parts of a previous style. Think of Walt Whitman; if someone attempted to write his poetry today, even anything close to his confident, prophetic, spiritual and nature obsessed poetry we would think of them as naive, childish, arrogant and perhaps, slightly insane. I miss this though. I want a poet unafraid to shed their cynicism, to let go of our collective fear appearing stupid, or incorrect, to explore realms that we cannot see, or feel, or quantify besides our obsession with love and self-awareness. Merwin’s translations and choices speak to a poet acutely attuned to these less prominent voices in today’s culture. A poet who collects the desiccated bones of discarded themes and forms and reinvigorates them for the contemporary mind.

more from Joe Winkler at The Rumpus here.