Saturday, January 07, 2006


I got my copy of Diner this week (fall/winter 2005) and it’s so good. It includes results of their contest. The winning poem “Ceremony with Medical Experiment” by Mary Austin Speaker is wonderful. It’s a list poem, which can be wearying, but very original and more of a chronic.

The judge’s comment on it illustrates for me what I was talking about with a friend yesterday. He asked me to look at one of his poems, concerned it didn’t have “a point.” I said if the poem only conveys a feeling or imparts an image, if it’s successful in that, we shouldn’t worry about “making a point.” It’s not necessary to “conclude” something from it, or outline a philosophy, for chrissakes.

Anyway, the judge (Robin Behn) said it better: “The poem plunges into a pursual of time that doesn’t aim to ‘capture’ it, but rather to record its currents and vectors… each time I read it I felt as though I were privy to a profound discovery, not of an end-point or idea or utterance, but of a kinesis, a meaning-in-motion.”

The second place poem, “The Birth of a Wolf” by Francis Woodbridge was also groovy.

Diner had a number of poems using food as a major element, including mine, “Angelfood.” There’s another food poem by Jack Conway called “Sunshine Sandwich:” I am going to eat America like a/sunshine sandwich. And Kelli Russell Agodon also has a poem about food that I enjoyed.

The best food poem, though, was Christopher Goodrich’s “On Being Rejected by Diner Magazine for the Fourth Time.” It goes… It is, by now, painfully obvious/the beef is overdone…. It was very funny.

Another poem I really liked was “Invention” by Askold Skalsky, which starts All you really need/to write a poem is/Grainger’s Wholesale Motorbook Catalog


Peter Menkin said...

Hi Sarah:
Nice blog. Especially liked this current remark on poems. Food is an interest of mine, more that I like eating than I cook. The remark on eating America was humorous and it made me want to know more. I will be back.

My blog, the new one and only that I have:

I plan to come back and read more. Thanks for your blog about poetry and the etc. of it.

Bob Hoeppner said...

I agree not all poems need to have a discursive theme.

Sarah, if you're interested, there is a writing group at

it's primarily for political poetry, but "political" is broadly defined. Right now there is a discussion going on of stage vs. page poetry. In case you're interested.

SarahJane said...

thanks for dropping in, peter.
and bob, thanks for the info. i am pretty bad at political poems. the closest i think I've ever gotten is "The War is Still Ending." but i'll mosey over and look in any case.

caffeine destiny said...

I appreciate the comments about poems...

Are poems supposed to be containers of meaning? I see a poem as a place where something happens, not as a record of a moment earlier where something happened, that is now being recorded in a poem for us to consume.

I like watching what happens in a poem.

Bob Hoeppner said...

My two cents: a poem can have a discursive meaning, or it can be simply an experience, or it can be both.

SarahJane said...

of course there are many many good poems that make a point ... and some prefer ambiguity. smile

Kells said...

Hi Sarah,

Glad you liked my poem in Diner. I haven't read my copy yet, I'll look for your poem.


SarahJane said...

Hi Kelli -
I've liked every poem of your I've ever read, so it was no big surprise. smile, sarah

Jack Conway said...

Well now, partner, thanks foor mentioning my poem, "Sunshine Sandwich," but it wasn't supposed to be about food you know. It was supposed to be about eating America and tossing out the gristle. Whatever.

SarahJane said...

ah ha, i thought it was about poetry. smile

Jack Conway said...

Are you still doing snakeskin it was a very progressive outlet. I tghink I read you in 3rd Muse recently. or somewhere.

SarahJane said...

frere Jack,
yes, i am doing snakeskin this month and next month, too (an alphabet issue). i like that one, too.

Jack Conway said...

Poetry is inviting submissions for this year’s summer double humor issue.

I hope you plan to submit. (I love it when people say, "I want to submit.")

Mark HUMOR ISSUE on the outside of the envelope.

New address:

444 North Michigan Ave.
Suite 1850
Chicago, Illinois.

Hoping to see you in it.

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