Extraordinary uniformity…

May 15, 2012 | Things I wish I'd written

The demand for a certain kind of prize-winning, ‘well-crafted’ poem has produced extraordinary uniformity.

…the poems you will read in American Poetry Review or similar publications will, with rare exceptions, exhibit the following characteristics: 1) irregular lines of free verse, with little or no emphasis on the construction of the line itself or on what the Russian Formalists called “the word as such”; 2) prose syntax with lots of prepositional and parenthetical phrases, laced with graphic imagery or even extravagant metaphor (the sign of “poeticity”); 3) the expression of a profound thought or small epiphany, usually based on a particular memory, designating the lyric speaker as a particularly sensitive person who really feels the pain, whether of our imperialist wars in the Middle East or of late capitalism or of some personal tragedy such as the death of a loved one.

…from Poetry On The Brink: Reinventing the Lyric by Marjorie Perloff in the latest Boston Review.