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Anne Wilson - "Reflections of a Poetry Journal's Subject Matter in the Millennium Decade"


why we persist in going to stupid
high school reunions; how at 50 you realize
that you’re now too old to die young;
how to explain to a husband and child
that one feels ready to die;
then, there’s the writer who wishes to reach
samadhi—preferably before he has to be at work;
a poem in praise of one’s analyst;
one wondering about the karmic trip of a pigeon;
the melancholy of a disappointing vacation;
spending time in the dentist’s office
with one’s husband; musings on an ex-wife
dying of cancer; and a poem about losing
at Monopoly; there are poems about anorexia,
and a man who is obsessed with fish tanks;
someone else is disturbed by the fact
that he’ll never see his own corpse; another
fears that if he’s laid off in mid-life,
he will let his wife down; a puzzling
poem about what it means to “have fun,”
a meditation on dead tulips; and thoughts of
a man throwing out empty whiskey bottles
from his dead father’s apartment.

If it is true, as Louise Glück has stated,
that all poetry begins with a haunting,
our journals offer a glimmering
of what Americans find troubling
in the millennial decade. The question
of what it means to be human,
staggering in its concern for the trivial,
poses new challenges.

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