Got a copy of the galley for the new Bidart book. For a long time, I couldn't connect with Bidart's work, then I saw him read "Music like Dirt," the Pulitzer-nominated chapbook that makes up the first section of Stardust. Reading his books with the intensity of his voice in my head made a lot more sense out of them. At this point, I think he's one of the more essential poets writing now. He has a deep sense of what it is to be one individual in the world, of the way in which all we can really do is make things, and of the deep loneliness that comes of putting one's energy out into the world and having little, if anything, come back. A pretty essential human problem, I think.
The book is, of course, stunning. Probably he'll win something for it. It opens with "Music Like Dirt," his sequence about "making." That is followed by a few discreet poems, the best of which are "Curse," one of the most believable poetic responses to 9/11 I've read, "phenomenology of the Prick," and "The Soldier who Guards the Frontier." Then is the requisite Bidart long poem, "The Third Hour of the Night," a prosey account of the life of a sculptor in the Pope's court, the violent third part of which is terrifying and filled with energy.
Do many young poets read Bidart? I don't have a clear sense, but I think so. He really only publishes in the big journals, never in young magazines, and he doesn't teach in MFA's much, so he's a bit out of that loop. He's a close friend of Lucie Brock-Broido at Columbia, so we heart a lot about him there, and he us taught a bit. He seems a bit outside of the trends to me, though he does have a bit to do with the work of other poets who began publishing in the late 70's and 80's--Lucie BB, Henri Cole--at least where that intensity is concerned. I think everyone should read him.
Also reading Susan Wheeler's Ledger, which I'm reviewing for Chelsea. Very good, though a little hard to get into. Astonishing long poem at the end, sort of written after "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror." Read all about it in Chelsea in a few months.
No big acceptances or rejections, except Bread Loaf (why don't they want me?) and letters from Verse and Volt saying they're not reading right now. Wasted Stamps.