Thursday, December 15, 2005

Not to be outdissed, Jessica Belluci, PR director of the Village Voice, called my attention to their version of a notable books list for 2005. The Voice’s roster contains just 25 books, and in it we find poets doing everything but poetry: writing fiction (Sesshu Foster, Kenneth Koch, Dennis Cooper), writing letters (Robert Lowell), writing a memoir that may or may not be fiction (Harry Matthews’ My Life in CIA, tho one might counter that Matthews is really a novelist who writes poetry, an argument one might make with Cooper as well), and just one book that might be poetry, Geraldine Kim’s marvelous Povel. I have to agree that Povel deserves to be on any best books list for this year and the only reason I haven’t reviewed it here is that I’m still in the middle of reading it myself. But to call it a poem, as Forrest Gander obviously did in awarding it the 2005 Fence Modern Poets Series prize, ignores all of its other dimensions. The implication, at least as I read the Voice selections, is that poets exist, but the poem maybe not. That’s something to ponder.