Why Rachel Wetzsteon is her generation’s best love poet

Xwetzsteon-rachel.jpg.pagespeed.ic.hnVdh4WtIzAdam Kirsch at Poetry Magazine:

The type of writer who falls prey to the “not quite,” who thinks deeply about it and makes it a major theme of her work, tends to be at the same time sentimental and ironic. The sentiment comes from her longing for the ordinary, for un-self-conscious emotion and experience; her irony comes from her secret feeling of superiority to that kind of simplicity. (Mann, again, is the classic example of this kind of artist—Tonio Kröger says just about everything there is to say on the subject.) For of course, if you were to offer the artist the chance to stop writing and start living, she would never take it; she is too deeply defined by her own distance from life to dare to close it.

Rachel Wetzsteon, who died in 2009 at the age of 42, was her generation’s best poet of the “not quite.” During her tragically brief career, Wetzsteon earned her share of the small honors that are in the poetry world’s gift: her debut collection, The Other Stars (1994), was chosen for the National Poetry Series by John Hollander; she won prizes, and was the poetry editor of the New Republic (where I was proud to be her colleague). But she had produced only three books of poetry before she died—a fourth, Silver Roses, came out posthumously—and she had not yet reached the level of seniority or acclaim where her work was much reviewed.

more here.