Friday, May 25, 2012
Book Beginnings: Meinke's The Shape of Poetry
"Since this book first appeared in 1999, the millennium arrived, and we elected Barack Obama, a president who not only enjoys poetry, but has serious poet friends, one of whom, Elizabeth Alexander, read at his inauguration. As I write this, our country's enmeshed in a nasty recession and a mean-minded political struggle for the nation's soul. However it turns out, I urge you all--even you rare hermits who actually live in garrets--to participate and bear witness. Poets are citizens, too."
I chose this passage from the introduction to Peter Meinke's wonderful book, The Shape of Poetry, rather than the actual beginning of the book, because everything about it serves notice that this isn't your usual poetry book.
Now that I'm a little further in, I keep asking myself why Meinke isn't better known. He's a master of the formalist's art and more than that, he's a great teacher.
Maybe a lot of folks aren't interested in his deconstruction of older, more complex forms like the villanelle and the sestina, which are brilliantly displayed here, shining like cut glass. But for any poetry geek, this is good stuff.
Want more of this? Check out Book Beginnings every Friday at Rose City Reader, where bookish folks share and riff on the first sentence (or so) of what they're reading.