Friday, June 23, 2006

Well-Versed: poems for the road ahead

A few days ago I posted about the poetry chapbook anthology produced by Starbucks. I’m only writing about Well-Versed: poems for the road ahead because it is more what I would expect from a corporate poetry anthology. The booklet fell out of one of the New Yorker’s from last year. The AIG logo is prominent on the front & back covers, “insurance / loans / retirement.” There are eight poems in AIG’s anthology and an illustration for each poem (in one case two short poems share an illustration). The pictures illustrate the poems, that is, the poem that talks about looking in the mirror is accompanied by a drawing that shows a man holding up a mirror. There are the tired old anthology pieces – Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Rudyard Kipling’s “If,” Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “First Fig.” No doubt they seemed harmless. There’s a Rainer Maria Rilke (“Future, who won’t wait for you? / Everyone is going there.”) and an Edgar Lee Masters (“In my youth my mind was just a mirror / In a rapidly flying car, / Which catches and loses bits of the landscape.”). Philip Booth and Lucille Clifton get to represent contemporary poetry with poems of bland exhortation (“may you in your innocence / sail through this to that”). It seems to me Frost’s “Road” is a very dry joke (the path “less traveled by” shows wear “about the same” as the one not chosen and “that has made all the difference”?); either that or he was just being sloppy. There’s a poem by a poet of whom I know nothing. David Filer’s “I Worry More” was first published in Rattle, issue #21. I wonder how it found its way into AIG’s poetry anthology? “I worry more now that my son is out / On his own, earning a handsome salary / Back east.”


Anonymous said...

I don't understand your comment on my (now closed) piershow blog. Came over a bit harsh. Problem?

Glenn Ingersoll said...

hi Liam,

I was only quoting you back your words, dude! Don't be so harsh on yourself! Your next to last post sounded like you were promising a future of heart-baring posts yet not a one materialized. C'mon. Fulfill your promises.

Nice glasses.