Saturday, January 24, 2009

Colbert on poetry

If you're in Canada and you want to see Colbert discussing poetry with Elizabeth Alexander you can find it here. It's nice to see Alexander do well in this context. Particularly after all the international poetry talons descended on her poem so quickly. It wasn't an amazing poem. Her delivery was, as Silliman points out, emblematic of a kind of poetry that can be painful to witness. But is it possible to write a rocking occasional poem? The worst poem I ever wrote was on commission. Poems on demand are difficult; no other inaugural poem has risen above its momentary use as far as I know.

So, here's to metaphors of mountains, and to more mixing of medias.


Chris said...

William McGonagall, in his (I think conscious) attempts to write godawful poetry, wrote a lot of occasional poems.

But of course it depends on what you think of "occasional poems". Are David Antin's poems "occasional"? (Are mine?) Is there an expectation of a certain kind of connection between the poem and the occasion, and is there something faulty with that connection?

"Occasion" from the Latin "occido", to fall down, to happen, but also to die, or to kill.

Lemon Hound said...

Someone no doubt knows of poems written on and for occasions that do rise to the pressure of the moment. I think of court poetry, the wit having to spin something on the spur...but I don't know, Chris, if there is something faulty with the occasion.

I think one's own response to an occasion is another matter really, don't you?

Violetwrites said...

kind of consistent with my lament. Although we hear over and over that people are seeking new and fresh, what they are really seeking is imitations redone of old successes.
It's almost your downfall when they can't find someone to compare you to.

gary barwin said...

The original prose piece and the subsequent discussion, both powerful collections of images, inspired the following, over at my blog:

Thanks, Sina.