To what extent do you see revolutionary or Marxist ideas affecting your early poetry? Lopate : I hardly regard myself as a Marxist or a revolutionary—too lazy—though I suppose around and for several years thereafter I was very sympathetic to Marxist analyses about what was wrong with the world. Let's say I bought the analysis of the problem oppression of workers, maldistribution of wealth, imperialism, cultural superstructure enforcing the status quo , but not the solutions, such as armed class warfare.
I tried to let my political positions percolate into my poetry, without wanting ever to be didactic or write agitprop, propagandistic works.
The Essayist as First-Class Writer
So, for instance, my poem "Allende" circles around my own doubts and disheartenment. I would define the political position in that poem as skeptical, not optimistic. I certainly was against the Vietnam War, as I would also be against the War in Iraq, and do not think my days of disagreeing with or demonstrating against the government will ever come to an end. In any case, political discourse is a language, an argot as well as a way of thinking, and affected my poetry in many ways: consider for instance the title of the poem "Solidarity with Mozambique," or the last line of "We who are your closest friends" which is "then for the good of the collective" a satiric dig at groupthink.
Finally, I wrote a number of poems which reflect on my work with minority inner city youth, and my sympathy with them. That stance is hardly revolutionary, but it suggests that the core of my politics and ethical beliefs has to do with a defense of city life.
Discussion of The Essayist by E.B. White Essay | Essay
I would vote for the Urbanist Party, if such a thing existed. Mcintosh : Many of the poems from your first book, The Eyes Don't Always Want to Stay Open , which you've included in your Selected Poems , seem to echo the styles if not the accents and viewpoints of poets who've influenced you.
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Lopate : I would just add Whitman to that list, but yes, I fell in love with Frank O'Hara's poetry, so witty and urban and vulnerable. William Carlos Williams was probably the most dominant influence on the poets of my generation who resisted the pull of T. He pointed us in the direction of plain American speech. I loved the incantatory melancholy of early Neruda, especially the poems in Residence On the Earth , more so than the later odes.
As for Jarrell, I was attracted to the talky relaxed poems in The Lost World and some of the Posthumous Poems as well, when he broke the bounds of the fussy. Mcintosh : In some of these early poems you're the sensualist "Snowball Journal" ; in others you're the seemingly laid-back contemplative "In the Time" ; in others the hard-headed pragmatist "Nose Job" ; and so on.
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Like many first books, yours conveys the sense of the poet trying things on, grabbing for things in the dark. Eventually, though, you came upon the poetry of Nicanor Parra. Did he crystallize for you what you were looking for: the taste for "anti-poetry," the taste for grubby reality?
And if so, how did you put this into practice? Lopate : I was certainly searching for a poetic "voice," and worked in a number of forms and techniques, but eventually I settled on a fairly long line, a prosy poetic voice you might say. In other words, I made peace with the fact that my poetry was never going to be crystalline or jewel-cut, but that I actually preferred a certain rough-hewn, direct and whenever possible comic tone.
It wasn't Parra's poetry per se that had such a deep influence on me, as his formulation of the label "anti-poems. It stiffened my spine and my defiance towards what I regarded as an insider's closed club. Mcintosh : The poem concluding your early collection is the first referencing your life as a poet teaching children and teenagers in inner-city schools, beginning in East Harlem.
In "Satin Doll," one of your students has died, potentially of a heroin overdose, and you take his classmates on a field trip to the funeral home. In what way?
About George Orwell the Essayist
Lopate : Teaching children gave me an opportunity to connect with a real world, a world outside my head, a densely detailed community, and at the same time to articulate my own principles of poetry and prose writing in a concise, clear way. In a sense, the twelve years I spent teaching children and adolescents gave me a chance to think of myself as a decent person, which meant that the many mistakes I made and the things I did that caused me to be ashamed of myself were put into a more generous perspective—hence, made more available to me as material.
If the core of me was basically good, decent, I was freer to examine the parts that weren't; they became less threatening. I wrote "Satin Doll" about a trip to the funeral parlor with my students; I wrote some poems about my own childhood, such as "The Blue Pants," because being around children so much stirred up those memories; and I wrote the long poem that ends the book, "Secrets, Rehearsals," at a workshop for teachers, when I began the class with a free writing exercise, which I myself felt compelled to do.
Mcintosh : Of the three poems you've just mentioned, your pursuit of intense, unflinching examination in "Secrets, Rehearsals" will be familiar to readers of your personal essays. Of course, many of the poems you've selected from your second book, The Daily Round , share these characteristics. Lopate : I can't remember ever having made such a boast, but I said many dumb things over the years. What's true is that I participated in many marathon readings and open readings during the years I was writing poetry. It seemed a good way to hone the oral side of my poems and to get audience feedback.
One reason I was a good reader, perhaps, is that I was coming to poetry from the prose end of things, and hence did not read in that soupy, self-adoring, excessively "musical" way many schooled poets do. Print Word PDF. This section contains words approx. Summary: Discusses "The Essayist" by E.
White and analyzes his intent; Why did he write this essay? White, the author of "The Essayist," did not merely write his essay to advertise to the public an essayist's lifestyle, or to market essay writing to people by making it sound fun, free, and full of incentives. White, writes because he wants the world to know what he thinks.
He describes essaying as "a new excursion. Essayists are free to express themselves in any manner they favor.
John Milton, the Essayist
Jason Francisco is an acclaimed photographer, essayist and critic. Dave Carpenter is a Canadian novelist and essayist who lives in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. There is hardly an essayist of the present day in this country whose work seems better deserving of preservation.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a noted American essayist , poet, and speculative philosopher.