Commentaries - January 2015

What is at stake in/when defining poetry?

When new acquaintances ask what I study, I often tell them, “poetry that doesn’t look like poetry.” Though my response might seem glib, the sentiment is sincere: I find myself drawn to poetry that unshackles that same term from its traditional denotation. The field of modern and contemporary poetry is full of language that doesn't behave: fixed forms are abandoned for open fields, words are rendered illegible, standardized grammar is disrupted, letters stray from counterparts that would give them meaning, the page is replaced by the screen, and nonsemantic sounds fill basement bars. So why do we still call it poetry? — Katie L. Price

Respondents: Amy Catanzano, Jacob Edmond, Bob Perelman, Brian M. Reed 

Tom Raworth, Listen Up (2003)

MP3 (from Kelly Writers House, March 13, 2006)


Why should we listen to Hans Blix
and all those other foreign pricks:
the faggot French who swallow snails
and kiss the cheeks of other males:

Some takes on Whitman's importance to contemporary poets

In this 5-minute video excerpt from the recording of a 90-minute live “ModPo” webcast on aleatory poetry, Amaris Cuchanski, Emily Harnett, Max McKenna, erica kaufman and Lily Applebaum each take a turn discussing the Whitmanian mode as it can be discerned in contemporary poetry. To view the entire video, click here.

Gil McElroy’s cartography

Gil McElroy selfie, taken Boxing Day, 2014, in Windsor, Ontario
Gil McElroy selfie, taken Boxing Day, 2014, in Windsor, Ontario

Colborne, Ontario poet, writer and curator Gil McElroy’s four trade poetry collections, each published by Vancouver publisher Talonbooks, are Ordinary Time (2011), Last Scattering Surfaces (2007), NonZero Definitions (2004) and Dream Pool Essays (2001). Given his three prior decades of journal, anthology and chapbook publication before Karl Siegler at Talonbooks first took on his work, McElroy’s trade books present the work of a fully mature and engaged artist, one who has been dedicated to his craft for some time. Anyone with any passing knowledge of McElroy’s poetry would certainly begin to notice a series of patterns, from the extended sequences, the abstract punctuations of time and geography, to poems on comets, constellations and other cosmic bodies.

Jacket2's January 2015 reading period

Jacket2 welcomes unsolicited queries during the month of January 2015. We are especially (though not exclusively) interested in queries of the following kinds: