A Look into Narrative and Confessional Poetry

My Ph.D. colleague, Dante Di Stefano, recently had an essay published by Shenandoah. The essay, “A Defense of Train Wrecks: Lyric Narrative Poetry and the Legacy of Confessionalism,” ┬ámakes a fine case for narrative poetry today. Not only does the essay give a deep reading to some of the best contemporary narrative poets, including Joe Weil, Maria Mazziotti Gillan, Denise Duhamel, and Sharon Olds, but the essay looks at the history of that mode of poetry, going back to Robert Lowell, John Berryman, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton, viewing their work as a reaction against Eliot, Williams, Pound and other Modernists who often fractured narrative.

This essay gives a good reading and deep understanding to the last several decades of American poetry. Check it out.

Where the Person and Political Intersect in Poetry

I’m fascinated by the notion of “political poetry,” of writing verse about social and political issues that withstands the test of time and does not become dated. It’s no easy task, and it’s a challenge that I’ve dealt with in my body of work. Recently, Poets’ Quarterly published my essay, “Going Inside the Cave: Where the Personal and Political Intersect in Contemporary Narrative American Poetry,” on this very topic. I looked at the work of four contemporary poets, Toi Derricotte and Terrance Hayes, specifically their address of personal history and racial issues, and Sharon Olds and Gary Soto, specifically their use of confessional poetry as a means to address issues of gender and identity.

I’d be interested in any comments and thoughts readers may have about the essay. I also encourage you to follow Poets’ Quarterly on Facebook and Twitter because the editors do a wonderful job of posting articles about the current state of contemporary poetry.