The new issue of the Beloit Poetry Journal has been released; and unlike most of them, it's entirely available online. That's because there are only six poems in the issue. The editors have chosen to center their attention on a handful of highly variable approaches to the long poem, and soon they will be hosting an online discussion forum among the six featured poets: Bruce Bond, Philip Metres, A. E. Stallings, Margaree Little, Susan Tichy, and myself. For now, however, you can get started with the poems.
I received my print copy in the mail yesterday, and already I am amazed at the diversity of styles among us. People's brains work so differently. A couple of us are frankly narrative; several of us are not; all, however, required spaciousness to arrive at some kind of denouement, some kind of synthesis, some kind of relief or emptiness or conclusion. In the words of the issue's introduction, "the world's a big place, after all, bigger than the inch of turf trod by too many contemporary poets."
Later you'll hear from each of us about the process of writing long poems, and I am anxious to hear how the rest of them manage to do it. It's very easy, as a writer, to become trapped in the coils of one's own inventive passageways. Perhaps there's really no other way to write, but it's nonetheless a refreshment to listen to someone else's story.