AS A POP LIT website we’re out to redefine the mainstream– but aren’t beyond occasional forays outside our familiar lines if the work deserves it. (Our roots are in the literary underground.) Even if the source of the unfamiliar material is that dreaded monster-metropolis of New York.
(Accompanying NYC music.)
It’s in places of highest power and station– among wavering skyscrapers– that one finds an underside. The literary obverse.
We start then with one of Brooklyn’s best young poets, Rus Khomutoff. He calls his work surpoems. We have four of them here.
in a sea of dotted infinity
the rhythm of life
(Painting: “New York from Brooklyn” by Colin Campbell Cooper.)
NEXT we have an Appreciation from New York avant-garde icon Richard Kostelanetz, of New York poet Frank Kuenstler, part of the ongoing ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT.
Has New Pop Lit been taken over by, gasp!, New Yorkers? Not quite.
NEW POP LIT ATTACKS NEW YORK!
FINALLY, we have a review of the January 29 issue of The New Yorker— flagship of the literary establishment and woefully decrepit. Or: The future is US.
(Feature painting: “Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.)
Poetry in outer space,
poetry is every place!
Poetry is hip and cool
(Apologies to Dr. Seuss.)
WE MISSED National Poetry Day– likely one of those Hallmark-created holidays anyway. We’re making up for it by turning our site temporarily over to poets and poetry.
FIRST is this week’s feature, “Black Water and Other Poems” by renowned Ohio poet Robert Beveridge.
The departure began
at a Dave Smith reading
as I poured alcohol
and peroxide down
the podium to kill
the beer worms.
NEXT are the latest selections for the All-Time American Writers Tournament. ALL POETS!! Find out who they are here.
We ALSO recently posted a missive from a mysterious activist character at the Tournament named “Cherry Bomb”– which just happens to be in the form of a poem.
(If we’re not having occasional fun– then what’s the point?)
Pop it, punch it, make it snap
Poetry is where it’s at! 🙂
Did pop literature exist in the past?
Absolutely! Our latest bracket selections for the big Tournament include two of the most famous, hugely popular, world-renowned writers ever— both American– in the persons of Jack London and Edgar Allan Poe. From the days when the most fascinating, charismatic, or crazy persons in society became writers. (Which made for fascinating reading.)
Another selectee, Emily Dickinson, could be called a pop poet. The fourth, Tennessee Williams, a pop playwright? That’s stretching it.
Does their work hold up?
Read Jack London’s terrific story “Lost Face” and find out.
–in the foundations of the world was graved this end for him– for him, who was so fine and sensitive, whose nerves scarcely sheltered under his skin, who was a dreamer, and a poet, and an artist. Before he was dreamed of, it had been determined that the quivering bundle of sensitiveness that constituted him should be doomed to live in raw and howling savagery–
NOW we’ve stepped into it! Two literary controversies at one time, both of them connected to the All-Time American Writers Tournament. (We’ve been offering exclusive coverage of the tourney here.)
FIRST is the seldom-discussed matter of T.S. Eliot. Where lies his allegiance? America or Britain? Is Eliot considered a British poet– or an American one? Where should lie our allegiance? Contribute to the discussion, if you dare– should you care– here.
SECOND, we believe we’ve thrown new and historic light on the friendship between the two biggest names in American literary history, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. How deep went their feud? WAS Scott a passive actor– a simple punching bag; on the receiving end of Ernest’s shots and scorns– as our nation’s most esteemed lit critics seem to believe? Or did Fitzgerald get his shots in against one-time protégé Hemingway– not once, but twice?
Are we prepared to take on the entire U.S. lit-crit establishment over this issue?
Read about the matter here.
State-of-the-art thinking about writing and writers, letters and words, only at New Pop Lit.
(Public domain image of Ritz Bar in Paris with photo of Scott Fitzgerald.)
Who’s good enough to make the tournament? Certain writers are gimmes– but 64 spots, when you start listing writers, isn’t a lot. The New Pop Lit Competition Committee hasn’t decided if there will be a play-in game. Who should we start thinking about?
Sinclair Lewis? Anne Sexton? Pearl Buck? David Mamet? Zora Neale Hurston? Fanny Hurst? Maya Angelou? John “The Mummy” Updike? Charlie Bukowski? Ezra Pound? Carl Sandburg? Gertrude Stein? Sherwood Anderson? Truman Capote? Zane Grey? Herman Wouk? James Jones? James Baldwin? Ray Bradbury? James Cain? James Fenimore Cooper? Harriet Beecher Stowe? Isaac Asimov? Ayn Rand? Mario Puzo? John Berryman? Bernard Malamud? Richard Wright? Ray Carver? Raymond Chandler? Lillian Hellman? Mary McCarthy? Katherine Anne Porter? Any contemporary poets? Any fantasy writers? Let’s have some names!
In the meantime, we’ll start on the easy part– the #1 seeds. Coming next.
(Image from the 1961 classic movie, “El Cid.”)
We’re serious about moving in a strong way into the genre of poetry. The classic art has been marginalized by the academy; kept alive by hip-hop and open mics. As always, we aim for a fusion of the two types.
October 17 is the birthday of Sylvia Plath, whose dark vision in its mix of craft and passion in the last years of her life was a high point of American poetry. After her death, the form abandoned its sense of music and euphony.
An exception to this abandonment happened in Liverpool, England in the early 1960’s. We’ve discovered a pop poetry movement centered in that industrial city– at the same time a group of moptop musicians began making waves with a unique brand of pop music. We’ll have a report on this, upcoming.
At our News blog, we take an entertaining glance at the five poets named last week as finalists for the National Book Award for Poetry. In fact, we grade them.
What’s our reaction to the Nobel Prize for Literature award to Bob Dylan? To us, it shows the failure of today’s poets to connect meaningfully with the general public– creating a vacuum which has been filled the past fifty years by popular troubadors like Bob Dylan. We say, give us not Bob Dylan but another Dylan Thomas!
Our fledgling Fun Pop Poetry feature is a beginning, only that, to a true poetry revival– making the art accessible to everybody.
For a more serious version of pop poetry, in one week we’ll feature several poems from one of the best young poets we’ve seen– proving to us the future of poetry is very bright. Stay tuned to this literary station!
Summer reading for Labor Day weekend– for the last lazy days of summer.
We’ve been obsessed with poetry of late. Fitting that our feature story, “No Faith to Lose,” would be– marginally– about a poet. But it’s really about traveling. No, it’s about a relationship. It’s about the choices we make in our lives. It’s a story that just is, a slice of life, and we see in it what we want.
AN Block stories have been appearing across the Internet. We thought we’d grab a good one for ourselves. Hope you like it!
“You have pictures of me wearing what?” she asked, the following week. “Lavender tinted glasses? Purple lipstick? I never turned on all that much, one puff made me loopy. Oh, right, and cough my guts up.”
(Meanwhile our Fun Pop Poetry feature is hopping.)
Merry Christmas! As this is a season for giving, and thinking of others, we have news that one of the best spoken word poets in the country needs help. Read about it here.
What can be said about poet Michael D. Grover is that he’s an authentic undergrounder who lives his art. In the tradition of William Blake and so many others. He’s also evidence of the fact that at the grass roots level, poetry lives, propelled with energy, emotion, and power in a way it never could in the stultifying atmosphere of the ivory tower.
After Christmas we’ll present our end-of-year wrap-up. Then, for 2016, we are lining up much strikingly original work from some of the nation’s– and world’s– most exciting writers.