Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Elizabeth Arnold's poem? A little flat, sorry to say. I think it showed a certain envy of Maya Angelou's, strange as such a thing might seem (even using the word 'pulse' in a similar way, if I remember correctly); not for the poetic qualities Angelou brought but for the personality she filled the stage with. Arnold's poem felt cowed by the spotlight it was formulated for.

I feel churlish comparing it to a poem I think better, and want to preface the comparison by saying that I think Arnold did a fine and professorial, if not completely artful, job. That said, Frank Bidart's poem on Slate this week not only does the job very well, it begs the question as to how any American poet could ever hope to write a public, democratic poem without invoking Whitman.

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