The Contemporary Poem

Posted by on 7 12 15 in Criticism | 1 comment

The Contemporary Poetry Review {1} had an useful essay on the typical American contemporary poem a while back, which began with the question everyone hates to answer: When I tell people I teach and – God help me – even write poetry, they often say, “I wish you could explain modern poetry to me. I just don’t understand most of it.” Reviewing work published in the New Yorker, Jan Schreiber observes that today’s poem is commonly: * Unmetered and unrhymed. * Focused on a particular event. * Possessing slightly fantastical details, but not incomprehensible. * Inviting metaphoric or symbolic interpretation. * Reducible, with some ingenuity, to a statement, though not a simple one. * Inconclusive in its ending. Readers pointed out that New Yorker selections reflect the editors’ tastes primarily, that the examples illustrated weren’t too mind-blowing, and that...

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