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Dobyns, Gluck, Levertov

Some of the required texts for a poetry workshop I'm currently taking.

One of the reasons I love grad school so much is the chance to not only read books but to discuss them with other students. While my inclinations and interests lead me more to poetics that are closer to this, I have been interested in one reason or another, I’ve been interested in those three titles above:

  1. Dobyns has a long essay in that book entitled “Notes on Free Verse” that I’ve long wanted to read.
  2. Gluck tickles my fancy with essays entitled “Against Sincerity” and “Disruption, Hesitation, Silence.”
  3. Levertov’s “On the Function of the Line” seems to me deservedly pivotal in discussions of lineation.

That said, these authors aren’t really poets who inspire me to the point of worship. This makes for good discussion, even without classmates: it almost seems as if I have to constantly debate in my head about some of their ideas. To whit:

  1. Dobyns strikes me as definitely humanist, possibly Romantic, in his poetic. While I haven’t completely rejected these paradigms, I am certainly inclined towards the kind of poetry that appeals to someone like, say, Marjorie Perloff. (I mention Perloff, because Dobyns’s comments on her here struck me as odd, especially because I never realized someone like Donald Revell would “take their ideas from” her.)
  2. Gluck is a wonderful poet, one I can admit to highly admiring. Still, I can’t seem to love her the way many people I know do. In addition, she champions the understated, and while I love, say, the Imagist Pound, George Oppen, and Robert Creeley, my own writing tends to the verbose. Gluck would hate my work .
  3. Levertov also bumps into my inclinations; her essay on the line comes down very strongly against practices like enjambment, which is something I tend to do in much of my work. Also, her view on the barely-audible (but certainly present) pause between lines is something I’m not sure I agree with. I think I do, but I can’t be as sure as she is.

It could be that I simply lack the conviction of these poets, though I suspect it may be a matter of temperament, if I dare say so myself.

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