the real estate modern man has made of Earth

"Sentimentality" is often the accusation brought by the critic when he would refuse some experience or idea arising in the poem that does not satisfy or support his personal world of values but would threaten, if it were allowed, to undo that world. The word "sentimental" means "supposed" experience, I suppose. "You do not really feel that" or "you are letting your feelings get away with you" is the reproof often where we would not like to allow the feeling detected to advance, lest we too feel what the advancing feeling brings with it. Much of modern criticism of poetry is not to raise a crisis in our consideration of the content or to deepen our apprehension of the content, but to dismiss the content. When such critics would bring the flight of imagination down to earth, they mean not the earth men have revered and worked with love and awe, the imagined earth, but the real estate modern man has made of Earth for his own uses.

- Robert Duncan, from his essay "The Truth & Life of Myth: An Essay in Essential Autobiography", as published in his Collected Essays and Other Prose.

Thank you to Don Share for pulling this quote out and sharing it.


a ten or twenty year walk, maybe

Many university students I’ve worked with have been stuffed to the gills with words and texts and complexities, various theories of writing and what constitutes significant thought and therefore significant work. Some of them want to be writers, but they can barely get one of their own words in edgewise amongst the many prescriptions, what they are and are not ‘supposed’ to write about. I feel for them; understandably, some of them are afraid to think and write and read for themselves...

Some of the students are writing poetry. Sometimes their poetry is incomprehensible. They are being taught that writing must be ‘complex’ to be good. It must not betray too much emotion. It must not record in an open, transparent way states or experiences that are deeply emotional. (Honest emotion is also passé? Mon dieu! What can this possibly mean?) Poetry must refer to technology and science in order to be relevant to our technological postmodern age. But, why? That’s not what poetry is really good at, in my opinion; poetry does not have to prove itself in that way (scientifically, postmodernly) to be worthwhile. My advice to these new poets is to leave their universities and go for a long walk. (A ten or twenty year long walk, maybe.)

- Karen Connelly, from an excellent Q+A (light on the Q, heavy on the A) with Shawna Lemay over at Canadian Poetries. The Vehicule Press blog has another great excerpt here, and you can read the whole Q+A here.


March Dead Poets Reading Series - New Venue!

That's right, the Dead Poets Reading Series is moving up in the world! After having to turn away over 25 people in January because of fire code restrictions (our apology about that is here), the VPL has upgraded us to the 300-seat Alice McKay room. Gulp!

In other words, maybe think about showing up with a friend or two to help us fill that huge space?

Our next reading will take place on March 9th from 3-5 PM, and will feature:

Rosario Castellanos (1925 - 1974), read by Elee Kraljii Gardiner
Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013), read by Jane Munro
Anne Marriott (1913 - 1997), read by Heidi Greco
William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616), read by Christine Leclerc
Lew Welch (1926 - 1971), read by Warren Dean Fulton

Attendance is free, as always. If you have any questions, more info about the series than you could ever want is up on the website: http://www.deadpoetslive.com/

I hope to see you in March!