March 2012

New formalism

Politics and poetry



New formalism or neoformalism was a movement that tried to bring back traditional poetic forms in English-language poetry. This was a very controversial thing to to try to do because the free verse poetry that now dominates the poetry scene was closely associated with left-wing politics in academia, so new formalism was seen as not only a literary stance but a (right-wing) political one as well.

Poets and Tyrants

From Nero To Mao

Poets and artists should never be put in charge of anything. Not a really big scale anyway. I say this as a radical activist and a longtime poet, so I'm including myself in the prohibition. Even if an omnipotent genie offered to make me the king of the world so I could fix everything I think is wrong with it, I would decline the opportunity. Why is that?


What's In A Name?

I read a blog recently featuring a “sonnet” about the presidential race. It was a funny little bit of satire, but there was just one problem: it wasn't fourteen lines of iambic pentameter. (Maybe that's actually two problems?)


Welsh Classical Poetry

“Cynghanedd” (pronounced very roughly like “KUNG-a-neth” with the “th” as in the word “the”) is the system of alliteration and syllabic meters used in classical Welsh poetry. These meters are inherited from the Welsh bards, the court poets of the medieval period, but they are actually still used today. This is all thanks to a cultural festival called the Eisteddfod (pronounced approximately as “EYE-steth-fod,” again with the “th” as in “the”), which presents a very prestigious award every year to the best poem in the Cynghanedd verse forms. Without this type of support, classical Welsh bardic poetry would almost certainly have disappeared by now, but it is still a thriving art form thanks to the institution of the Eisteddfod.


Mystic Poet

I can't remember where I read this, but I do remember reading somewhere that Rumi is currently the most widely-read poet among Americans. This is a remarkable thing, when you consider the fact that Rumi was a Sufi Muslim mystic and that is not exactly a worldview most Americans are either familiar or comfortable with.