Series Editor, Marvin Bell
Fugue by Emily Bobo
Shine Tomorrow by Joel Craig
Return of the Fist by Amy Lingafelter
Introduction to Volume III
Who best represents American ideals and the American character? We have for eight years suffered a degree of criminality and ineptitude at the national level that could scarcely have been imagined. Our White House and Congress were kidnapped by corrupt capitalism, lunatic imperialism and hypocritical evangelism. They are not patriots who invaded and tortured in our name. They are not patriots who repeatedly broke national and international law. They are not patriots who refuse to pay for education and social services, and to whom neither the common good nor the lives of our children matter.
How in the horrors of the past eight years were Americans able to maintain an inner life force? The inner life needs a soul. Which is to say, culture. Which is to say, the arts.
And is it not the American ideal to create something good not seen before? Reader, here in volume three of New Poets / Short Books are three more poets, genuine poets. It is amazing to me, and a great solace in these times, to come across poets who do not make a career of telling others what art is, but who simply push the envelope to express what matters, and whose writing, given your open attention, will be, like they say, money in your pocket.
Why take art as it comes? Because nothing better illustrates the American character than the individualism inherent in art. Crucially, the best poetry does not succumb to a dumbing-down in the search for a wider audience, nor do business with those prosaic village explainers who keep telling us what it is. It does not need professors or theorists.
The lunatics and hacks that made up our national government for eight years could not keep Americans from singing and dancing, from imagining and pretending, or from making art in numberless ways. And they could not make poetry small. For the poets of any age are not only of their time. They hold hands with the poets of ancient times and of all time since. Poets and other artists have kept alive the life force of nations when it was hidden from the rest of the world. Let it be so again . . .
M. B., July 4, 2008
She never got Bach right. She couldn’t play Bach angry. She couldn’t play Bach sad.
Those were the two ways she knew how to play.
Once, right after Ruth died, she had made an entire room weep.
—Emily Bobo, “The Recovering Musician Quit the Piano Because”
from SHINE TOMORROW
I didn’t know I was suffering from an illness
known as depression. For the first time
in my life, I thought I was seeing the world.
—Joel Craig, “Street Dad”
from RETURN OF THE FIST
. . . I am an anthropologist.
I met my lover at the Ultimate Tan.
Don’t listen to me.
—Amy Lingafelter, “Terra Firma”