Monday, 20 February 2012

Tuesday Poem: Rae Armantrout - Making Poetry out of Crisis


Poets are expected to be contemporary and some even expect poetry to be subversive and offer solutions to (or at least analysis of) social turmoil.  Most of us remember, or carry around, scraps of poetry that have offered comfort or support in uncertain times, and some of us were maimed for life by having to learn the Charge of the Light Brigade at primary school!  But writing overtly 'political' poetry is very difficult and the results can be dire.   I found this fascinating video (link below) on the Poetry Foundation site.  Rae Armantrout, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, talks about how and why she writes about contemporary situations and reads some of the poems from her new collection 'Money Shot'.

The title has references only regular viewers of pornography might recognise - in these poems the financial 'exploitation and greed' that has ruined us all is identified as a different kind of pornography.  One reviewer writes that Rae Armantrout's poems  'work off the sleazy undercurrent of contempt and lazy petulance which one sees, or reads and hears expressed everywhere these days. The underlying quest of Armantrout's critique of our language is to identify and tag those elements which threaten to compromise our potential for goodness, or fulfillment, or ease.'  The poems themselves are deceptively spare.

Money Talks

1
Money is talking
to itself again

in this season's
bondage
and safari look,

its closeout camouflage.

Hit the refresh button
and this is what you get,

money pretending
that its hands are tied.


2
On a billboard by the 880,

money admonishes,
"shut up and play."

Interview and Readings here: - 

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/features/video/313

For more wonderful Tuesday Poetry, please check out the Tuesday Poem website by clicking here.

2 comments:

  1. Oh Kathleen - I really enjoyed this. I've struck her fabulous poetry before and it always hits a nerve!

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  2. It is very deceptively spare isn't it - I keep on rereading for more! awesome.

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