18 mar. 2006

My 100 favorite poets. A list in progress. In alphabetical order. Once I get to 100 I will start revising. A poet can be kicked off the list if I remember I like another better. Why do I like silly lists like this? This is my "team." These poets have my back, so to speak; I can call on them for help at any time. At least one of them will be able to help me out of a jam. The final list will also give a completely accurate vision of who I am.

[UPDATE: What I've learned is that my taste is very conventionally canonical. Any eccentricity is at the very edges of the list. Take a way a Catalan poet and a few minor poets of the New York School, and my list looks very much like the canon. The only unconventionality is in the omissions, quite possibly. It's also true that I don't have much space left over for the Charles Wrights of the world. The Dave Smiths and Charles Simics. I'm not trying to denigrate such poets, but I just don't feel them to be among my personal top 100. I'm not even sure if Andrew Marvell will make the list, so don't ask me about Gregory Orr or Mark Strand.]

[UPDATE 2: 97. I have 3 more to go. Roethke and Dylan Thomas are the ones that might have to go soon. Do I really even like these poets? Each one of these poets sings in a different key.]

[UPDATE 3: 100. Now begin the revisions, where I eliminate the 10 poets I like least and add another 10]

Vicente Aleixandre. Guiillaume Apollinaire. John Ashbery. W.H. Auden. Basho. Charles Baudelaire. Samuel Beckett. Ted Berrigan. William Blake. Jorge Luis Borges.

Coral Bracho. André Breton. William Bronk. Lord Byron. Thomas Campion. Catullus. Constantine Cavafy. Paul Celan. Joseph Ceravolo. Luis Cernuda.

René Char. John Clare. Clark Coolidge. Hart Crane. Robert Creeley. E.E. Cummings. HD. Dante. Jordan Davis. Emily Dickinson.

T.S. Eliot. Robert Frost. Antonio Gamoneda. Concha García. Federico García Lorca. Drew Gardner. Pere Gimferrer. Allen Ginsberg. Luis de Góngora. Barbara Guest.

Jorge Guillén. Thomas Hardy. Robert Herrick. Homer. Horace. Fanny Howe. Issa. Lisa Jarnot. Juan Ramón Jiménez.
Ronald Johnson.

John Keats. Jack Kerouac. Kenneth Koch. José Lezama Lima. Fray Luis de León. Antonio Machado. Jackson Mac Low. Stéphane Mallarmé. Vladimir Mayakvosky. Bernadette Mayer.

Jess Mynes. Lorine Niedecker. Pablo Neruda. Alice Notley. Frank O'Hara. Ovid. Ron Padgett. Leopoldo María Panero. Li Po. Fernando Pessoa.

Petrarch. Francis Ponge. Ezra Pound. "Psalms." Francisco de Quevedo. Pierre Reverdy. Rainier Maria Rilke. Arthur Rimbaud. Claudio Rodríguez. Jerome Rothenberg.

Raymond Roussel. Pedro Salinas. James Schuyler. William Shakespeare. David Shapiro. P.B. Shelley. Ron Silliman. Jack Spicer. Gertrude Stein. Wallace Stevens.

Tu Fu. José Angel Valente. César Vallejo. Blanca Varela. Lola Velasco. Walt Whitman. William Carlos Williams. Wyatt. W.B. Yeats. Juan de Yépez (alias Saint John of the Cross).

26 comentarios:

John dijo...

Surprised to see Rothenberg on your list. I had agreed with your earlier post that while his anthologies are phenomenal, his poetry pales.

Anyway, nice list.

Behrle, Prince of Trolls dijo...

No Edith Sitwell???


Jonathan dijo...

I believe his efforts as a translator and anthologist are themselves poetic in the deepest sense. Hence he is on my list.

Jonathan dijo...

We'll see if Sitwell makes the list. I'm putting Stein and HD before her.

John dijo...

Yeah, Rothenberg's anthologies rock.

I also like his "Seneca Journal" quite a lot.

If Pound would make my list, it would be on account of his translations and canon-making more than his poems.

Peter dijo...

Mandelstam, Holderlin, Cavafy, Montale,Herbert,Tsvetaeva, Max Jacob????

Jonathan dijo...

I have Cavafy already on the list. I wish I understood Montale. I don't read Russian and only Mayakovsky comes through to me at all in translation. Max Jacob? He's the father of the prose poems I most despise.

Javierigl dijo...

Ah, Duncan.
My beloved Duncan.
Duncan in the mud...
What are you doing, boys?
Duncan and his magnificent gnostic fight...
The last romantic.
Duncan in the mud, why?
Is it because he was entrapped into ?the ominous self? or another similar abstraction?
Are we talking of poetry or of moral technology of the soul?

Jonathan dijo...

I can't take very much of Duncan. A blind spot on my part? Undoubtedly.

John dijo...

I love Duncan and was taken aback when Jordan posted a few months ago that he didn't much like him. It made me take stock and realize: I love "Opening of the Field" and "Bending the Bow," and don't really much love most of the rest. The vatic tone appeals to me; it could be a turn-off to someone else. With Bow and especially Field, Duncan really rings my bells. Earlier and later stuff, I don't feel the ecstasy, but do feel the hope for it.

I'm glad people say when they don't love somebody who's on the General List. The art's capacity to field differing sensibilities is a strength.

Javierigl dijo...

Thank you, John.

JWG dijo...

I would have trouble gettting to 100. Maybe just 10 for me. Maybe just 5

JWG dijo...

Where does that Jonathan Mayhew guy fit in your 100?

Jonathan dijo...

I am not one of my favorites. Go figure. I once in a while get pleasure from something I have written myself.

Bob dijo...

I thought I might see:

Paul Blackburn
Christopher Marlowe

Jonathan dijo...

Basho is already there, right after Auden. The other two aren't among my faves.

Bob dijo...

Whoops, thought I didn't see Basho.

Query: Why Kerouac? Are you in agreement with Michael McClure who wrote that "Mexico City Blues" was the surpassing religious poem of the era? I love some of Kerouac's novels, but his poetry seems vague and sloppy. What am I missing?

Jonathan dijo...

I find his poetry more compressed than his prose, but with the same virtues. Sometimes I can love just a few poems by a poet and he or she qualifies for the list. Kerouac gets in because of maybe a half dozen of the choruses of MCB where he is really hitting it. Look at the one that says:

My father in downtown red walked around like a shadow of ink black, with hat, nodding, in the immemorial lights of my dreams. For I have since dreamt of Lowell, and the image of my father--straw hat, liquor on the breath, newspaper in pocket, barber-shop shines...

It works even without the lineation.

jose dijo...

For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure Roberto Juarroz is in my top 100. But that's just me; I thought he'd be in yours, though.

L. Trent dijo...

I like that you have so many non-English language poets. I have an unfortunate distrust of poems in translation. Feels like too much static between me and the poem. I have enough french to read some Baudelaire, but Mallarme and Rimbaud are still almost impossible for me.

I'll have to look up some of these poets. I've never heard of Luis de Gongora, Jorge Guillen, & many others.

Jonathan dijo...

I appreciate your comment, but actually, I have very few non-English poets on my list, in relation to the total universe of poetry in all languages. This is partly because I too distrust it (translation.) I have very few poets on the list that I have not puzzled through in the original language to some extent-- The Chinese and Russians, the Hebrew poet of the Psalms, Homer, Cavafy. While my Japanese, German, and Latin are weak, it helps that haiku are short. I have French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Catalan covered--that's why those languages are represented, along with English.

L. Trent dijo...

Well, yes, in terms of all poetry by poets of all languages, this is probably not a wide-ranging list.

But if I was asked to list my hundred favorite poets, then I probably wouldn't have even one non-english language poet on there, and I imagine many poets that have gone through the traditional creative writing/academic channels for their knowledge of poetry would be in the same camp. This list really makes me want to add some non-englih poets to my creative writing syllabus. I hadn't even thought to include any translated poetry.

Lucky you to have so many languages! But I suppose luck doesn't have much to do with it. I have french and old english. The Old English doesn't come in too handy, though I do love Wulf and Eadwacer and all those bizarre anglo-saxon riddles.

Jonathan dijo...

The creative writing syllabus seems paraticularly narrow--usually contemporary American poetry of the type preferred by whoever the teacher is.

My perspective might be skewed by my PhD in Comparative Literature and my 16 years as a professor of Spanish lit. I haven't been anywhere near an MFA program in years.

I wonder what happened, because in the 70s it seemed that *everyone* translated, even those without foreign languages. When did this aspect drop from MFA programs, or is my memory of this distorted?

JWG dijo...

I "translated" (I dont have the language) some Basho when i was at naropa. Anselm Hollo teaches a class in translation there. helped me look more closely at the words.

Larry Koenigsberg dijo...

These comments are perhaps related to your love of Whitman, Neruda, Ginsberg.

I'm surprised not to see the Chilean poet Nicanor Parra on your list, whom I read again and again. He's all over the Web in both Spanish and translation. I understand him to have been profoundly influential in bringing a vernacular tone to Latin American poetry, which comes through quite effectively in translation. For example:

I'm Not a Sentimental Old Man

a baby leaves me absolutely cold
I wouldn't take a baby in my arms
even if the world were caving in
every man scratches his own itch
I can't stand a family get-together
I'd rather be stuck in the eye with a sharp stick
than play with my nephews
my grandchildren don't move me very much either
what I mean is they set my nerves on edge
the second they see me come back from the coast
they come running at me with open arms
as if I were Santa Claus
little sons of bitches!
who the hell do they imagine I am

(Emergency Poems, translated by Miller Williams, published by New Directions, 1972)

Bertolt Brecht comes across well in translation and is widely hailed as a great playwright, less known as a great poet; certainly deserving consideration. The following is very famous in Europe and gives some of the flavor of a pungent and very broad body of work.

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th June
The Secretary of the Writers' Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?


Less surprised not to see Nazim Hikmet on your list, although his work is starting to get more translation. Perhaps just a personal favorite for me "every man scratches his own itch"!

Jonathan dijo...

Parra is not a personal favorite of mine. I think he is very important, but he paved the way for a lot of colloquialism that didn't turn out so well as in his hands.

Hikmet is a favorite of one of my favorites: Antonio Gamoneda.