An Old Curmudgeon's Personal Poemology

An Old Curmudgeon's Personal Poemology

A Poem by kentuck14

(Or a Poetry Lover's Quarrel with the Times)

The parents of my poems
are the generation after
my father's, the so-called
"Silent Generation," now
dead or grown very old . . .
still read by the admirers
of early postmodern poetry
long before post-postmodern poetry
became a mere slurry of words
across the page--spilled out
without syntax, metaphors,
similes, rhythm, music, and
worst of all . . . meaning.
Even my own poetic siblings
(boomers) seem unsure of
themselves, timid in the shadow
            of giants.

On what Prof Perkins called
the "postwar period" of
American poetry, I cut my
poetic teeth reading Ginsberg,
Ferlinghetti, Koch, Creeley,
Field, Kooser, James Wright,
Merrill, Bukowski, Cohen,
and later poems by Bishop,
Stafford, Lowell, Berryman,
and W.C. Williams.
Even now I read Hall, Bly,
Levertov, Oliver, Kenyon,  
Stroud, Hass, Charles Wright,
Ignatow, Justice, Levine, and
other poets of the not so silent

Aging and reactionary, I seldom
recognize the names of poets
that fill the newer anthologies,
journals and magazines. Most
are strangers to my reading habits,
for I live in the old neighborhood
of used poetry books; bygone names
on their well-worn c0vers visit me    
while I drink my morning coffee
with my young ridge-back hound
on the sofa next to me.
She offers no opinion of my tastes.
Even in our short time together
she has learned not to argue
with a curmudgeon poetry lover,
or she might not get that first
dog biscuit of the day.

© 2020 kentuck14

Author's Note

Okay . . . another old man's rant! Be assured it is not about the poetry I read and revue on this site. Prof Perkins wrote a 2 vol. history of modern and early postmodern poetry some 30 years a ago. Younger readers may not recognize the names of these 'silent generation' poets . . . but they are worth spending your time with their work.

My Review

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I have subscribed to Poetry magazine for many years, but when Christian Wiman left as editor, I found I didn’t enjoy it as much anymore. I have a hard time connecting with a lot of the poetry they are publishing now because much of it is just images or loose connections.

I’m pretty young in the scheme of things, but I read and enjoy many of the poets you mention. I think when you fall in love with poetry you just want to know it’s many faces. I enjoy twentieth century poetry more than 21st because it feels more connective to me. It is easier for me to find a way in and there’s a craft that is obvious.

Creeley is my favorite poet from your list. Two of his longer poems The Door and For Love are models for me. Something I aspire to.

This is an interesting musing, Tom. The style is reminiscent of the poet voices you speak of. I enjoyed the exploration.

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

Haven't really liked Wiman's poetry . . . but saw a couple of new ones in The New Criterio.. read more
I guess im an in betweener I have come to love most styles tho I was reared on the classic poets and I mean reared my mother would read poetry to us as kidlings she has an amazing memory and can quote verbatim so many poems its astounding:) I on the other hand can't quote the grocery list from this morning LOL But I guess the more modern styles of write did escape me till coming here and learning to appreciate the various expressions I have come across

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

Thanks for stopping by. Let me just say that I have to work harder understanding and a.. read more
i certainly relate to this...i cut my teeth on the same poets...and they are all still my favorites...always will be...
my father didn't understand my writings at all....and for a long time thought i was full of foolishness.
my mother used to indicate that she liked simple, rhyming poetry...the really old old style...
but i grew my teeth on the Beats...
and they are still the meal i want to dessert needed.
"sunday at the state hospital"
"my past is sitting in front of me
filled with itself
and trying with almost no success
to bring the present to its mouth"
thanks for this piece, T.
it struck a chord.

Posted 3 Years Ago


3 Years Ago

I believe Ignatow is a under-appreciated poet. Thanks for commenting . . . it's appreciate.. read more

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3 Reviews
Added on December 20, 2019
Last Updated on January 11, 2020



Lexington, KY

Started reading and writing poetry while in the Army many years ago. I picked up a book of poems by Leonard Cohen in a bookshop on Monterrey CA's Fisherman's Wharf and went on from there. I've had a n.. more..

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