Saturday, October 2, 2010

The lucky ones

At this week's literary salon at NYU, Matthew Zapruder filled the house. While I've almost stopped going to readings altogether recently, this one felt like a can't miss. And it was: His new poems are among the most exciting work produced by our generation and he read them with warmth, humor, and wit. Looked at simply in the context of the poets in the audience that night -- Rachel Zucker, Timothy Donnelly, Cate Marvin, Mark Bibbins, Brenda Shaughnessy, Geoffrey Nutter, etc. -- ours suddenly looks like not only a generation of promise, but, suddenly, one that delivers amazing contributions across an impossibly wide spectrum of interest and style. Add in a few of my other favorite poets who weren't there -- Thomas Sayers Ellis, Claudia Rankine, Linh Dinh, Prageeta Sharma -- and this is one crazy good group. But while all of the above are roughly the same age, and all are good friends with each other, "group" isn't really the word, is it? They all share an at-playness with their circumstance. But some use persona, some use "self." Some use a forthrightness of delivery, some tell it slant. Some mix-up diction, some keep it straight up. Some keep the politics personal, some invest it in you, dear reader. Afterward, a friend lifted a glass to the whole evening -- which included all of us reading and writing poems today. "Aren't we the lucky ones," he said. Yes.

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