In Defense of Poetic Nonsense

Elisa Gabbert at the NYT:

Really great poetry is difficult to read. I don’t just mean it’s challenging, though it usually is. I mean it’s hard to make progress, because the density of meaning in the language stops you; it makes you read in loops. Alice Fulton has called poetry “recursive”: “It sends you back up the page as much as it sends you forward.” Because of this effect, it once took me all afternoon to finish reading John Ashbery’s long poem “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror” — I kept wanting to stop and start over again. Alice Notley’s best work feels this way: intensely recursive, almost too good to read. In its semantic density, great poetry gives you the sense you’ve skipped over and missed some available shade of meaning. You certainly have.

more here.