My 14th post is up at the Poetry Foundation blog. Actually, I’ve happily given over the space to Craig Santos Perez’s review of Tara Betts’s debut poetry collection Arc & Hue. An excerpt:
The funniest poem is an interactive piece titled “A Survey on Enjoying Verse.” One of the survey questions asks where the reader last heard poetry read aloud (“please mark YES or NO” with a “No. 2 Pencil only”):
4. Alone in a smoky bar while wishing your sorry ass lover would take you back.
5. At a poetry slam since that’s how you get to go on tour and hawk the CDs you just burned and the chapbook with your picture on the front.
6. At a respected literary organization or conference so academes, publishers, and editors know you’re a REAL poet. (77)
I’ve never seen Betts alone in the smoky bar that I usually hang out in wishing my sorry ass lover would take me back; Betts’s picture nests modestly on the back cover of the book beneath blurbs by Martín Espada, Annie Finch, and Wanda Coleman; does anyone really consider AWP a “respected literary organization or conference”? For real, all one has to do is read Arc & Hue to know that Betts is a REAL poet. Not only does she write about a diverse range of expansive themes, but she also grounds these themes in her past and present experiences. The poems illuminate the smallest domestic moments (whether filled with violence or love) alongside larger cultural issues. While Betts writes mostly in free verse, this collection contains many well-crafted sonnets, a villanelle riff, a sestina, and a vibrant canzone.