Little Emerson

14 June 2005


Floating Poet (1993)
Floating Poet, Drowning Poet?

One of L.E.’s editors writes to me:

I'd like to say here that I am not necessarily looking for perfection. If I were, I'd say "no" to at least a thousand poems before considering a "yes" vote. It is of utmost importance, in my humble opinion, that we as editors empathize with those who submit. As you'd noted on little emerson, it would be unfair to have any preconceptions, as this is an open-submission project. Therefore, we'll see things by people who admire Walcott, adore Stevens, love Pound or Ginsberg or Pinsky or even Collins and Goldbarth. Naturally one's aesthetic sensibilities are in play, but at this point in history the idea of exceptionalism, or that one strain of influence can make a poem "bad" seems to me ridiculous.

I am a fan of Bukowski. He penned maybe twenty great poems, and of those possibly five would reach that "perfection" threshold even in the eyes of a fan such as myself. To ask anyone to surpass that (given Bukowski's fifty-thousand books) would be foolhardy.

Still, I maintain a pretty harsh standard for "good." But this is communication, after all. Does the writer effectively communicate? A few have so far. I like the feeling of a "yes" and I'd almost wager a few out there are eager to say "no." That just seems to be the tendency.

I know it wasn't asked or required, I thought I'd give you a window on my selection process, as I tend to write very short responses.


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