– to judge about the quality of contemporary American poetry, but what I can say, is this: the anthology The Best American Poetry 2015 comprises a handful of really great poems
But hold on; this isn’t going to be a review. I only wanted to tell you about two of the poems I really liked, adored actually, two poems that made the whole book worthwhile. There is more, obviously, but those you can discover for yourself – .
It Was the Animals, is written by Natalie Diaz, it was the first Diaz poem I ever read, but I knew instantly I had to read more. Her is how It Was the Animals begins:
Today my brother brought over a piece of the ark
wrapped in a white plastic grocery bag.
He set the bag on my dining table, unknotted it,
peeled it away, revealing a foot-long fracture of wood.
He took a step back and gestured toward it
with his arms and open palms —
It’s the ark, he said.
You mean Noah’s ark? I asked.
What other ark is there? he answered.
In her own comment to the poem, Diaz writes: “Sometimes a god sends a storm or flood and it is a type of love. We gather up all the beasts, including ourselves, including our brothers, because we are built like other animals, with an instinct to survive. (…) My love for my brother is both the flood and the ark. It is what makes me want to teach him the error of his ways but also what makes me want to hold him as we ride out whatever storm is battering us. He has his animals and I have mine. They hollow us. They make us dark inside. They split us open on the rocks. At the end of it all, everything has changed—the land, the sky, the rivers, the sea—but what doesn’t change is that we are brother and sister. What never change is love.”
Did you ever read anything more beautiful written by a sister for her brother?
And then, on the next page, but definitively in a totally different universe, there is Denise Duhamel — starting her telling poem Fornicating, with a quote from the Portuguese poet Adilia Lopes’ poem Weather Report:
Such a beautiful
And I’m not
Kurt Vonnegut wrote
That every character needs
To want something
Even if that something
Is only a glass of water
I want to fornicate
Would I have loved Duhamel’s poem if it was written by a man? Probably not. But a woman (actually two women) stating her own sexual desire in such a blunt way seems really liberating – and obviously … very frank & funny.
To me it seems poetry is all about nerve, the nerve of the poem colliding and intertwining with the nerve of the reader. You never know when it will happen, but when it does – the world explodes!