Readers’ Comments on Sentinel Poetry (Online) #42
I just finished reading May’s issue of Sentinel: very nice job, indeed! I really admire the choice of artwork for the magazine, a component that is too often either neglected by editors altogether, or they refuse to attend to a correlation between the art and the poetry. You’ve managed to incorporate both seamlessly, and for this I commend you. What is the sculpture on the front page? It is amazingly intricate.
Your editorial this month had, I think, an important point to make. I agree with your belief that too many poets are lacking the ability and/or sensibility to incorporate biting and scathing criticism into their writing (a quality integral to the poet in this “PoMo” world) without churning out pure propaganda, and losing the poetics of the piece. In many ways it is the infrastructure of our society that enables or inhibits this possibility. Government grants, for example, while candy to many writers, are handed to the poet by a perfect stranger to poetry; they are a mixed blessing that allows for a plethora of poetry (great!), but with little concern for its style and form (unfortunate!). Politics and poetry are strange bedmates, but bedmates nevertheless: it is the poet’s responsibility to not only challenge the alpha male of government, but to do so with a style and grace that will leave its tongue lolling on the floor.
As you mention Baraka’s poem, I think his main fault as laureate was that he took his job as public critic more seriously than his job as poet. Style and grace were put on the backburner, and the message took precedence. Granted, Baraka’s aim was to reach the largest audience possible, and to shock the hell out of them. The quality of his writing tells me that he has little faith in the reading ability of his audience, which I find rather alarming. I don't believe that poetry is meant only to be written, as I'm sure you agree, but I wonder if we are too ready to sacrifice quality for readership?
Is it true that our society is becoming less and less literate? Or are we simply not challenging the public because the poetry we write is crap? These two possibilities are probably reciprocal and, indeed, a grave concern. I'm happy that there are still Little Magazines like Sentinel willing to challenge the quality of art being produced today, but also to showcase the quality art being produced today. Loved David O'Meara! Very smooth writing with vivid imagery. Every word has meaning. This is poetry.
Keep up the great work!
Sentinel Poetry (Online) #43 - June 2006. ISSN 1479-425X
The International Journal of Poetry & Graphics...since 2002. Editor: Amatoritsero Ede