Friday, October 7, 2011
A Ghost's Day Off
Tomas Transtromer won the Nobel Prize for Literature and Sweden erupted in jubilation, and so did plenty of other people who love poetry! Over at Escape Into Life, you can read Patricia Clark's poems, including one called "Poem Ending with a Line from Transtromer," and a beautiful line it is. So is the rest of her poetry.
I interviewed Patricia Clark on her work, here, in the EIL Blog, and I was especially curious about her take on "nature poetry" and its stigma/sudden trendiness. She points out, quoting Gary Snyder, that it used to be "'death' for a poet to be called a 'nature poet,'" and I have certainly read guidelines that say, "We don't want garden poems" and heard editors say, "I hate nature poems."
I agree with Patricia that it's usually best to read the poem closely and see what's going on, rather than labeling and dismissing it, and I wish more readers and editors would do so. This ties in with The Geography of Bliss, too, by Eric Weiner, whose happiness research confirms that we find great joy in being open to nature and to the beauty of our surroundings.
And nature is not all beauty, either. It's what's going on. ("It's what's for dinner.")
Anyhoo, I'd be interested in your thoughts on "nature poetry" here or at the EIL Blog interview. How do you define it? If you have written poems about nature, have you run into the stigma? If you are a reader, what turns you off or on in poems that include nature? If you are a reader and writer of poems, have you, too, noticed the irony or hypocrisy of "eco-friendly" poems emerging in an age that has tended to despise "nature poetry"?
Labels: Poetry Someday, Random Coinciday
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You nailed it with nature it's what's going on/it's what's for dinner! Ultimately, it is what is going on, and all those poems about bad relationships and breakups are so many toenail clippings along the Continental Divide.
Where have all the toenails gone?
Long time dividing...
Where have all the toenails gone?
Long time, no toe...
Such an interesting question. I always thought I hated nature poetry, but I sure do seem to be bringing a lot of nature into my most recent writings, and the landscape is important to the stories I'm trying to tell, so you can't just cut it out. I'm also increasingly, as I get older, I think, ecologically-minded, although I've always been a bit of an environmentalist.
So I always thought the prejudice against nature poetry was really a prejudice against poetry too divorced from people, or technology; a poem that's just about a tree, or a flower. Studying Japanese poetry has really helped me realize that a poem about a flower can really be a poem about humanity as well.
I write all sorts of poems, and I first started getting serious about publishing in the late 1990's. Back then, I saw many more journals who refused to read poems with religious themes than editors with an anti nature poem stance.
But lately, I've seen an opening up to poems that address spiritual issues. Not from everyone, of course. But it's heartening.
I haven't encountered anyone who says that they hate nature poetry--in fact, I've met more people who like nature poetry above all than any other kind of appreciator of poetry.
I've seen many guidelines say, "We don't publish religious poetry," and I think that must refer to poems that are a delivery system for the message of a particular religion. I do see a lot of poems out there in the world that embrace "the God thing," as I think Lucia Perillo called it...
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