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Nicely Put: On Paul Muldoon

Filed under: Looked Into   Tagged: , , , , ,

The New Yorker, which I’ve now read for nearly 40 years, is surely publishing better poems now that Paul Muldoon has taken over for Alice Quinn. His selections are interesting, witty, striking, running the gamut from free verse to traditional poems. Quinn’s poems were often self-indulgent, sentimental, mannered, boring.

This is just another sign of the magazine’s revival under David Remnick, who has returned it to the best days of Shawn and Ross, and perhaps surpassed them. Too bad this excellent, wide-ranging cultural treasure keeps improving in a climate of anti-intellectualism and short attention spans. I often hear quite well-read folks say they no longer read the New Yorker, or just glance at the cartoons. Too bad, you fools.
That’s from Chasing the Blues, and that’s a fine site, by the way. I’m so happy I happened on it. I would argue there are many exceptions to the note about Quinn’s taste, but I’m not here to argue; I’m here to be glad we’re not said fools, often the very people who don’t read poetry because—we know the real reason, right? It’s too much work to worry about whether you’ll understand it. Be brave, prosey people!


In re: the Remnick renaissance, note how quietly he did away with most, if not all the design changes wrought under Tina Brown.

I suppose it’s a lost cause but it still bugs me when I see a poem cut in two and printed in parallel columns. For many years a lot of contemporary poetry has been written with at least some consideration as to its visual, sometimes almost sculptural presentation.

Chopping a poem this way also gives a vague sense of it having just been shoehorned in to accommodate other, more important writing.

Arthur Sze’s “Looking Back On The Muckleshoot Reservation From Galisteo Street, Santa Fe,” in the May 26 issue, is astoundingly beautiful. I love it! Its publication in the magazine is, I think, the first real sign of Muldoon’s editorial genius starting to kick in. More Sze, please!

driedcharMay 30, 2008

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