Poetry roundup

November 15th, 2012

Jack Gilbert died on Tuesday. (That’s a link to the New York Times obituary, by the way, for those of you who can only access a certain number of free articles per month). I was introduced to his poetry late, only about three years ago through a woman in my writing group, but he quickly became a favorite for his both his directness and his restraint. Though clearly madly in love with the world, his work was as far from sentimentality as that of any poet I’ve ever read. Read, for example, “It Is Difficult to Speak of the Night” or “The Sirens Again.

His poems embraced all the grief of life and all the wonder and recognized the moment of intersection. The possibility. The necessity. He spoke about his belief that poetry should have above all an emotional impact in this 2003 interview and says this:

What’s the reason to write poetry? It’s not a hobby. It’s one of the major ways of keeping the world human. We have almost nothing else, no craft that deals specifically with feeling. The novel to some extent, but it embodies a different kind of empathy than a poem does, and I suppose film to a degree, but motion pictures are only able to show you the outside of what’s happening. Poetry works on the inside of what’s happening.

I could be maudlin and say the world is a little less human today, but I know too many wonderful poets to really believe that. So go write something, and keep the world human.


One Response to “Poetry roundup”

  1. Andrea Beltran on November 16, 2012 1:43 pm

    Touching post about Jack Gilbert. I share your closing sentiments. Jack Myers wrote “What the Old Master Said,” a poem for Jack Gilbert, and it in he details a conversation between “two old men agreeing there’s no difference between them, how there’s nothing more/ important beyond sharing the spirit.” Gilbert was a master of this in his work.

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