Kevin (erf_) wrote,

michael r. burch is way too good at poetry

So I've recently discovered The HyperTexts, a slightly pretentious online poetry journal. It is pretentious in that, unlike virtually every other online poetry collection, it is an actual literary journal. Meaning it only publishes poems from actual professional poets. How professional? Well...three poems published there have apparently been Pulitzer nominees. Yikes.

((edit) Okay, that was coincidence. Most of them were originally published elsewhere. And dude, Leonard Nimoy?? I admire Spock as much as the next geek, but...seriously. Well, so much for my own snooty pretensions.)

I've been spending short breaks at work reading through the section dedicated to the Darfur genocide. Some of it comes off as a little sappy (probably because it was meant to be read aloud). Some of it is really good. But nothing, absolutely nothing, can light a candle to the contributions of Michael R. Burch, founding editor of The Hypertexts himself.

((edit) What the hell was I thinking when I wrote this? HACKED BY CHINESE)

Other poets try to convey a message by chasing you around with a sledgehammer. Michael R. Burch point-blanks you with fifty-caliber HE. You have barely enough time to think "what the hell?" just as the slug rips through your skull and boom! That's your head, or what used to be, painting a thick layer of stickiness across the carpet. An example--a totally tasteless choice given that metaphor--from the Darfur section:

A Child's Epitaph
by Michael R. Burch

I lived as best I could, and then I died.
Be careful where you step: the grave is wide.

Two lines. Two lines. But--not since Eliot--damn it, Burch! Just...damn. I don't think a single couplet has ever depressed me so much.

He's not just an excellent minimalist, either. From the selected works on his website he seems to be good at damn near everything. Sonnets, sestinas, epigrams, free verse, heroic couplets, even nursery rhymes--name a form and he's done it. And it's almost uniformly good--sometimes amazing, sometimes even groundbreaking. For such a prolific poet you'd think he'd wear down--even Yeats did, if you've read some of his less famous work--but no. This guy just keeps on churning out beautiful verse. It's not fair.

(edit) Okay, I spoke too soon, his collected works wax Victorian by the middle of the page. He may be brilliant, but he's human.

(p.s. save darfur)
Tags: poemage, reading

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