Review: Essential Questions
Shanta Acharya, Imagine: New and Selected Poems (HarperCollins India, 2017)
Richard Robbins, Body Turn to Rain: New and Selected Poems (Northwest Masters Series, Lynx House Press, 2017)
D.M. Black, The Arrow Maker (Arc Publications, 2017) and The Bi-Plane and Other Poems (Mariscat Press, 2017)
Poetry used to be considered a body of knowledge, a repository where one could find out about the world and its phenomena; one thinks of Hesiod’s Works and Days, the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius and even Virgil’s Georgics. If it once held up a mirror to the world, it did so more in the Horatian sense of creating a picture and, in the Classical sense, a picture that purports to be more objective than the artist’s personal vision. This continued well into the ‘gentleman’s agreement about taste’ that obtained in Neo-Classical times, when ‘classics’ such as Gray’s ‘Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard’ were held to deliver universal truths. Today we see poetry more as an expression of personal emotion or opinion, often both. We can certainly gather a picture of the world from it, but realise this may be (or even, philosophically, has to be) a relativistic view. In short, we do not seek after great truths; and while seeking to tell it ‘like it is’ this will inevitably only be as we (the poets) see it. But the three poets under review here represent a challenge to the purely personal, even if they start out from that point of view.
A couple of ...
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