Best of the Web 2011 Nominees
Alexander Long:: Photograph: Poet on Dust Jacket, Richmond, Virginia 1996
“All I’m doing is gazing into a gaze. His gaze, the gaze of a dead man. I want my vertigo to be symbiotic, but I never met—and never will meet—Larry Levis.”
Jennifer Sweeney:: Old Town Square
I have never been quite sure what ‘epistemological’ means, and even after a short foray in search of a definition on the internet, now I think I am less sure. But the word comes to mind when reading Jennifer Sweeney’s poems, “Preface” and “Old Town Square.” The poet’s work questions the limits of knowing, yet somehow seems so sure of those limits. Sweeney’s work forces the conditional to become concrete, but only for a moment, until that concrete again dissolves into the sea, undulations, threads, and strings. Imagine holding a cinderblock, if every piece of sand and glass were visible and it weighed almost nothing.
Christopher Schaberg & Mark Yakich:: Real Poetry from The Airplane Reader
It may be apocryphal, but I’ve heard that pilots and surgeons have similar psychological profiles—they are aggressive, self-assured, contain a store of vast technical knowledge, intimidating. And whether or not it is factually true, the comparison does make sense. These are people we give great, blind trust to every day, unflinchingly. Our lives are literally in their hands, and very rarely do we even remember their names after the procedure or flight. It takes a certain amount of ego to name a piece “Real Poetry”, and Christopher Schaberg and Mark Yakich earn that cheekiness as they constantly dazzle us through this piece’s pure expanse and its technical dexterity. The reader is constantly confronted with all of these aforementioned traits—traits that can be extended to the essayist and poet. “Real Poetry” is a collaboration in aviation that doesn’t ask for your trust because it doesn’t need it. It knows exactly what it’s doing. Relax—you’re in good, capable hands.