Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Quick Muse: An Epic Battle of Poets!
(Perseus' use of free verse confounds the iambic tetrameter approach of the Kraken.)
The newsletter of Florida State University (one of my many alma maters) reports that "FSU Creative Writing Professor Julianna Baggott will be "competing" tonight against former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky in a new-style online "poetry slug-fest" (all in good literary fun!) in which notable poets square off to see who can write the best poem in 15 minutes."
A previous bout between poets Paul Muldoon and Thylias Moss is up on the very young but witty website Quick Muse. A New York Times article on Quick Muse can be read here (try this link after the first one goes defunct), while Quick Muse publisher Ken Gordon speaks about the series in Poets & Writers here.
I'm intrigued by Pinsky's involvement because while he's not at all a snob and not opposed to "poetry slams," nonetheless he doesn't view slam poetry as poetry per se, and Quick Muse smacks a little of a highbrow slam. (I view poetry slams as much more performance art than poetry, similar to Pinsky's view.) Quick Muse features three key differences. Firstly, unlike a slam, which typically features pre-written poems, or a rap-off, which offers only a few minutes to compose a diss of one's opponent, Quick Muse poets sit down to write for 15 minutes. Secondly, Quick Muse gives the poets a passage or quotation for inspiration (for Muldoon and Moss it was a wonderful passage by Elizabeth Bishop on the difficulty of writing poetry!). Lastly, Quick Muse is not competitive. It's fascinating and elucidating to see how two accomplished poets attack the same task, each with a different emphasis and style. (While my loyalties are divided for tonight's bout, I have to "back" Pinsky - if such a thing is even possible! Meanwhile, Muldoon and Moss both produced striking work of radically different feel and form.) Really, when poetry's celebrated and promoted, how can there be any losers?
Godspeed, Quick Muse!