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Vol. 1, No. 6: The Case for Poetry in Our Age

Rembrandt van Rijn, Aristotle with a Bust of Homer (Photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art)

It might be said that poetry faces one of the greater uphill climbs among the arts in our day. Poetry must contend with the challenge of being perceived as distant or removed, as something that people do not “get.” Yet poetry is alive and well among those creating it, and it is thoroughly accessible — yet underappreciated. The lyric poem is one of our great artistic expressions, and it lives on. In this issue of TMD, we gladly take a stand for poetry, while shedding light on some active poets in our age and their excellent work. Click on the titles below in order to view the full articles in this issue.

Join us for a walk through one of humanity’s most ancient art forms, and consider The Case for Poetry in Our Age.

The Power of Personal Experience — Part I

by Richard St. John

There are lots ways to talk about poetry.  Here’s one that resonates, especially, for me: Poetry is a way of telling truth. A particular kind of truth: not the stripped-down “truth” of a mathematical equation or controlled scientific experiment, but the felt, lived truth of human experience. Follow Richard St. John, poet, as he reflects on the personal nature of poetry and on one of his favorite poets, Frank X. Gaspar.


Bring Back the Poets

by Andrew Swensen

Poetry. We seem to view poetry nowadays as if it dwells singularly in the province of pretentious intellectuals, academic institutions, and (if we are lucky) the occasional 11th-grade English classroom. I find this development sad. For some reason we think that poetry is somehow inaccessible, a rarefied highbrow art form expressed in overwrought language. Yet if you think about the birth of the arts from back in the days when we were sleeping under the stars and keeping warm by open fires, we were also doing a couple of other things, practicing our most primal elements of culture: dance, song, some basic rhythms for music, and yes, speaking or chanting poetry to one another. Now we have arrived in the 21st century, and we seem to have neglected our origins under the open sky. Bring back the poets, I say.

From Poet to Teacher and Back: An Interview with Taylor Mali

by James Ranson

“I don’t see the world in a particularly unique way. People tell me I do, but I don’t think they’re being honest with themselves; I think I see the world just like everyone else. I just have the audacity to know that people will be entertained by an eloquent articulation of their own vision.”  –Taylor Mali, from his interview conducted for The Muse Dialogue by James Ranson.

The Power of Personal Experience — Part II

What if you feel you can’t connect with poetry?  What if its seems less like “felt experience” than a complex “story problem” you were assigned in class, but never were able to solve?   Well, lots of people feel that way.  I think it’s because they were taught that you had to “understand” poetry in order to experience it, when really it’s the other way around. Richard St. John discusses entering the world of poetry in the second of his two-part series “The Power of Personal Experience.

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