What is the difference between a narrative and a story, the poem asks, and also perhaps: Is poetry uniquely positioned to explore this difference?
Jeremy Griffin is a writer of absolute power, and I say that as someone who desperately wishes not to write that. No one is more frustrated to write about this book's excellence than I.
Most writers are delighted to publish a first book and then a few years later a secondAnder Monson, who admittedly is not much like most writers, has taken to publishing two at a time. His two latest entries into this already formidable oeuvre include a collection of essays, I Will Take the Answer and a book of short stories, The Gnome Stories.
Deb Olin Unferth's Barn 8 starts out seemingly as the narrative of two women but eventually it becomes clear that this book isnt so much about the human characters but instead about the animals, specifically the hens: long-suffering, much smarter than we give them credit for, abused beyond comprehension, and ultimately transcendent.
In Bohumil Hrabals memoir All My Cats, the limitsof empathy, of understanding, of life and deathare distended as Hrabal attempts to chart and to pilot the intense disgust he feels for a life that has, in his eyes, necessitated an outcome of violence.
That familiarity is what Id emphasize. Myself, I love whats outré and of-the-moment about Girl, Woman, Other. I was at once won over by its fast and loose way with the English sentence, quasi-colloquial, with minimal punctuation and capitalization, sometimes breaking down into short stacks of single lines. Yet it doesnt take an aesthete to find the prose accessible. Anyone can appreciate Evaristos sensitivity to the passions in her people.
Poet, essayist, translator and editor Martín Espada discusses the new anthology What Saves Us: Poems of Empathy and Outrage in the Age of Trump.