Raising the Net

21 12 2012


It’s been my great pleasure over the past few years to be associated with Spoon River Poetry Review–as a reader, and now as the review editor.  Spoon River for a long time has been a strong journal, but under the leadership of Kirstin Zona it’s becoming something really special, featuring some truly amazing poems–check out Arielle Greenberg Bywater’s “The Wicker Man,” or Austin Smith’s “Aerial Photograph, Glasser Farm, 1972”–by amazing poets–among the recents: Josh Corey and Linda Gregerson–and some great thinking about contemporary poetry and poetics: each issue, Spoon River features an extended review-essay that tackles an issue in contemporary poetry and considers three to five books of poems in light of that issue–reviewer/essayists include the likes of Andrew Osborn and Joyelle McSweeney.  You can read excerpts of these review-essays here.

I also contributed a review-essay a few issues back.  “Raising the Net” is a review-essay that uses Christina Pugh’s ideas about “sonnet thought” to consider the fate of the turn in some contemporary books of sonnets, including The Reality Street Book of Sonnets (a glorious mixed bag), Iteration Nets (in terms of turns: there are none), Nick Demske (interesting, if problematic), andSeverance Songs (pretty great).

I state in “Raising the Net” that “I revise Robert Frost’s idea that writing free verse is like ‘playing tennis with the net down.’  Writing formal sonnets, it turns out, is not too difficult; it’s the writing of sonnets without great turns that’s akin to a netless game.  In contrast, crafting sonnets with an eye toward their turns as well as a critical approach that can account for them not only raises the net but also raises the bar on what we expect from sonnets.”

The above is just a teaser to get you to read the whole introduction, which can be found here.  And this, of course, is a teaser to get you to explore and enjoy the recently-launched Spoon River Poetry Review website, itself an enticement to get you to subscribe to the journal.  And you should: it’s fantastic.