Sing Bodies Eclectic
A roundup of new poetry titles
by Meghan O'Rourke
$23.95 List Price
Poets find themselves unnerved every April during National Poetry Month when the noise of consumerism fades a decibel and the media spotlight falls on them. "Too bad for you, beautiful singer," Peter Gizzi laments in his new book, The Outernationale (Wesleyan University Press, $23). How do poets write in a culture enamored of both media spectacle (the Super Bowl, American Idol, a televised war) and unmediated individual expression—YouTube, MySpace, and blogs?
Four of the five poets considered here propose that poetry's role is to critique culture by way of language and form and, in so doing, to reverberate, as more traditional lyric poetry does, in the minds of readers. But this is a tricky role for poetry. When this mix of evaluation and artistry succeeds, it illuminates our social relations. When it doesn't,
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