Monday, April 5, 2010

Monday Mailbag #10

Dear Tribal Hack:

How will this end? A while ago a new kid on the block elbowed its way on to the CanPo scene: the niche anthology. At first this didn't seem to be much of a problem, and it actually made sense in some cases when the broad scope of "work poetry" or "love poetry" created easy access for general readers who otherwise mayn't have noticed the individual efforts. But lately I've been befuddled and annoyed by the bodily devolution of this option. I've chanced upon bowling poem anthologies (no, not a selected from Tim), Dennis Rodman poem anthologies, beer making poem anthologies, and black light gardening poem anthologies. What's your take on this runaway train?

-- Peg Squared

Dear Peg:

You don't talk about the quality of any of these poems in the tomes you outline. Remember, any subject is on-limits, or unlimited, if you will. What I'd like to see are more of these micro-niches combining their obsessions. For instance, a poem about Dennis Rodman stumbling into someone's black light garden at two in the morning after an all night bender may achieve tragic proportions. It's all in the handling, of course, but I don't see why an intrepid editor couldn't already find a hundred-page assembly of that sort. And good stuff, too, pared down from thousands of likeminded poems. Of course, a journal can simply make a call for that narrow subject through a theme issue. Much more interesting than a theme issue on "war" or "dreams". After all, if you're going to make restrictions, make it a challenge.