Full Title: “New Year, New Verse: 4 Poetry Collections That Change the World (via Vulture)”
Poetry ought to be the preeminent form of this age — hell, every age. In a smattering of words, a poem can eulogize, satirize, criticize, proselytize.
The greatest verse clues us into what Jane Hirshfield calls “poetry’s knowing,” its function of “clarification and magnification.” It’s the quintessential hybrid form: an amalgam of essay, lyric, story, polemic, and diary. Poets are penguins, to paraphrase E.E. Cummings. They use their wings to swim.
More importantly, poets can reshape the world. In a time of duplicity and disharmony, they employ multi-dexterous verse for numerous kinds of revision — political, personal, aesthetic, and historical, to name a few. Four standout collections in this first month of the new year specialize in such transformation. These poets reconsider the past in order to to enrich the present and future. They recast popular American films as woeful monuments to bigotry; they use obsequious conversations at the supermarket to comment on war; they turn solemn prayer into self-prosecution. There is always more going on than what our eyes can see or history describe, and poets seek out those neglected perspectives and endow them with eloquent vigor. As one of them, Sally Wen Mao, yearns to say to a young girl like her, to all girls like her, sometime in the future: “go ahead— / rewrite this.”
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