Loads of Learned Lumber

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Wong May, _Picasso's Tears: Poems 1978-2013_

I WROTE A short review of this that I hope will appear elsewhere, so here I will simply (a) note that I do not expect to see a more intriguing volume of poems this year and (b) take David Orr to task.

 In his NYTBR review of James Franco's new book of poems (July 20), Orr imagined that "if James Franco were just another M.F.A. student struggling to catch the attention of the two part-time employees of Origami Arthropod Press, he'd probably be reading this piece and fuming about all the attention being given, yet again, to James Franco."

Is there a whiff of condescension in there towards those two part-time employees? I think there is, and it is surely misplaced. Those two part-time employees of Orr's imaginary poetry publisher are probably both poets, hence much likelier to recognize exciting poetry when they see it than are their counterparts at FSG or Knopf or maybe even Graywolf and Sarabande. I, for one, would be a lot more curious to see what is on offer at the fictional "Origami Arthropod Press" than I would be to see the next Copper Canyon volume. So three big huzzahs for the poet-publishers at Octopus, and Action Books, and Wave, and Omnidawn, and Apostrophe, and all the other enterprises where a great era in American poetry is underway in, as usual, a place where almost no one would notice it.

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