Tuesday, August 16, 2016

In its fall issue the Beloit Poetry Journal will be publishing my poem "John Doe's Love Letter" as well as a long essay I wrote about Christina Hutchins's poetry collection Tender the Maker. It will be the first time I've ever had prose and poetry appear simultaneously in the same journal, and the moment feels important. What I mean is "privately important," of course: it won't make much difference to readers one way or the other; but for me, this will be the inaugural public acknowledgment of the stylistic split that seems to have become embedded in my writing production.

Many great poets of the past--say, the mid-twentieth-century lions such as Carruth, Wilbur, Lowell--also wrote essays about poetry; but no one thought of them as essayists first or even as essayists also. They were always poets first. That has not been my experience. Certain magazines will only take prose from me; others will only take poetry . . . despite the fact that both sorts of journals publish many different genres. So I've had to ride this divide, and not only as a writer but also as a teacher.

Last week Baron told me I would have been a better-known writer if I had been working 40 years ago, which is a depressing thought but also a comic one. "If only I were an old, old lady now, I would be famous." There's a Monty Python skit waiting in the wings.


Carlene said...

...or a prodigy, published at 10? =)

I, too,think it's important that a journal publish both prose and poetry by the same writer (in this case, you...) because it should come as no surprise to a reader that writers move fluidly among genres. The Whitman course I'm taking is focusing equally on his poetry and his prose, with special attention to his letters. I am finding that I am really starting to understand Whitman even more through his prose work/letters. Reading those, then reading the poems, I hear a deeper voice in the work. I had the same experience a while back with Dickinson; her letters to her brother made the poems work better for me. Publishers should be working toward providing this sort of experience for their writers and their readers.

David (n of 49) said...

"There's a Monty Python skit waiting in the wings":

"No there isn't."

"Yes there is."



Sheila said...

Congratulations on BOTH your Beloit publications. I look forward to reading them!