Dream of the Rood
by Rebecca Foust • from The Massachusetts Review
Rebecca Foust's books include God, Seed (Foreword Book of the Year Award) and All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving Book Award).
The Massachusetts Review
The Massachusetts Review is one of the nation’s leading literary magazines, distinctive in joining the highest level of artistic concern with pressing public issues.
"Midway through my freshman year at college, my roommate, Roger, asked if I would read a poem he'd written and tell him what I thought. I was pleased to be considered a literary person whose opinion might be valued. And my roommate, who would major in geology, had previously shown no interest in poetry. 'Of course,' I said.
"The subject of the poem was the death of Roger's father, and I felt a small shock in reading it, since no one I knew had yet lost a parent. Unfortunately, Roger's poem was a very bad poem. I don't now remember the various ways in which it failed, but there seemed no doubt in my mind. Given the subject, however, what kind of criticism would be appropriate or bearable?
"I began by expressing my condolences, and Roger interrupted quickly to say, No, his father hadn't really died. That was just the subject of the poem. 'But you can't do that!' I exclaimed. Perhaps I didn't actually exclaim, or even say it directly. But it was what I felt. This was wrong, a violation of some rule or code. You couldn't do it, or you shouldn't.
"But why not? What if the poem had been good? Would I have condemned it because it wasn't 'true'? Would factual truth have been transformed into a larger 'truth' (quotation marks intended), determined by literary value? This essay is an attempt to think about these questions."
—Lawrence Raab MORE
- Leslie Shinn
- Afaa Michael Weaver
- Kirsten Kaschock
- Mary Oliver
- Christopher Ankney
- Brandon Krieg
- Michael Gessner
- Juan Antonio González Iglesias, tr. Curtis Bauer
- Lisa Marie Brodsky
- Chris Green
Audio recordings of events in our Readings & Conversations and In Pursuit of Cultural Freedom series are available via podcast generally within one week of the event. Selected past Lannan events are also being released periodically in audio and/or video format. We also have rare video interviews with people such as Peter Reading and John Berger.
PD on Twitter!
Ted Kooser presents Jennifer Maier's "Rummage Sale."
Kei Miller honored with Forward Prize for best 2014 poetry collection.
Andrew McCulloch introduces C. B. Cox's "Wedding Journey."
Nolan Feeney interviews Saeed Jones on his new collection, Prelude to Bruise.
David A. Maurer profiles new U.S. poet laureate Charles Wright.
Dannie Abse, 91
Alan Bennett’s anthology, Six Poets: Hardy to Larkin reviewed by Kate Kellaway.
Carol Rumens introduces "Caracal," by Pascale Petit.
John FitzGerald is awarded the Patrick Kavanagh Award.
Jesse J. Holland reviews Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century, edited by Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis.
Britain's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, marks her fifth year.
Peter Campion reviews Louise Glück's Faithful and Virtuous Night.
Susan Page interviews U.S. poet laureate Charles Wright.
Charles McGrath remembers Alastair Reid.
Did Shakespeare and Jonson drink at the Tabard Inn?
"Blaise Cendrars in the sky"
Alastair Reid, 88 MORE