Super Bowl of poetry
For the past few years, I’ve subscribed to both Poetry magazine and the American Poetry Review. Both publications give an overview of the best poetry being written today. If you want to know the names of the top poets, just flip through the pages of either one.
So just before another Super Bowl, I propose that Poetry and the American Poetry Review are the NFC and AFC champions of poetry in America. To me, Poetry with its sleek look and well-bound volumes is akin to Joe Montana’s 49ers in the 1980s, and the American Poetry Review, with its gritty tabloid format, is Terry Bradshaw’s Steel Curtain of the late ’70s.
Initially, Poetry won me over with its elegant presentation, but over the past year, I’ve realized how few of the poems resonate with me, and the criticism falls as flat as a blocked punt. With a few exceptions, Poetry’s poems seem to favor esoteric concerns that send me reaching for the morning paper of last week;s issue of Rolling Stone instead.
On the other hand, American Poetry Review offers larger groups of poems from each writer, which offers a more comprehensive look at each poet. Also, the poems tend toward the accessible — I know, a dirty word among the academics. Maybe relevant is a better word. It just seems like more of the poets in APR are writing about things that interest me or maybe just writing in a way that interests me. I’ve found myself eschewing the Sunday paper in favor of APR for weeks now.
So while the Poetry team wows with its technically adept offense, APR is playing tough defense and, at least in my mind, appears to have forced the turnover.