The 5 Wh-Question Meme

From Poefrika:

Here are 10 questions masquerading as five. Yes, it's a meme. Please participate if you can, because these things always teach us about you and about writing. Tag if you want to, but tag people that you think wouldn't mind becoming tagees. With these questions, share your experience and your opinion, and whatever else you care to stick in there.

Here goes:

1. Who's your hero? Why (Not necessarily a writer -- do not include deities or family)?

My literary hero is Lucille Clifton. She's a prolific poet and well-versed on African American and African culture. And, she wrote with lots of children around.

2. Who's your favorite dead poet? Which of their poem do you like best?

My favorite is dead poet is Whitman, with Leaves of Grass/I Sing the Body Electric as a personal favorite. I often recite lines to myself when no one is around. I'm also a big fan of the late Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Frost, Anne Sexton, Audre Lorde, and Langston Hughes.

3. What well-known poet/writer have you met? What was the occasion?

Since I am a fan of poets, I seek out opportunities to hear them whenever I can. Some of the following I have studied with, some I have met at reading or events such as the Dodge Poetry Festival.

Allen Ginsberg
Stanley Kunitz
Lucille Clifton
Billy Collins
Rita Dove
Robert Bly
Grace Paley
Toi Derricotte
Cornelius Eady
Sonia Sanchez
Sharon Olds
Galway Kinnell
Phil Levine
Yusef Komanyaka
Mark Doty
Ruth Stone
David Ignatow
Glyn Maxwell
Sekou Sundiata

I've also met lots of up-and-coming poets, too. I'll take advantage of any opportunity to talk to a writer, famous or not. I'm not saying that I've had long conversations with them, but I have shaken their hands and told them how much I enjoyed their work.

4. How do you recognize a bad poem? What are its characteristics?

If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck ...

Seriously, I think some of the most mediocre poems come from well-known poets. But I blame the publishers for that. Take the New Yorker magazine for example. It seems as if a small number of established poets get in automatically, even if their work is not very good. I find this true of many of the top-tier journals and reviews. In the case of the New Yorker, I hope this changes once poet Paul Muldoon, the new poetry editor, takes the helm.

5. Why are some poems entitled untitled? What's your take on that?

I don't understand untitled poems. The title sets the tone for the poem. It is the unofficial first line, so not having a poem title is a wasted opportunity. Of course, I'm interested to see how others feel about the untitled poem.

Thank you for answering and posting the gems on your blog/site. We'd love it if you could leave a comment here telling us where to look. Memes are a good way of discovering people and sharing knowledge.


Rethabile said…
Wow! That's an awful lot of poets to have met. I'm green, here. Know what I mean?

I remember you mention Ms Clifton in another comment as being a person you looked up to.

I'm poetry editor for Canopic Jar and I fully agree with you. One of the most dangerous things to do is to accept a submission because of the name attached to it. Or to reject one because the name looks "funny" or is unknown.

Nice offering for this meme. Thank you.
January said…
Thanks Rethabile. I've always lived in cities that gave me easy access to poets. And the Dodge Poetry Festival allows easy access and question-and-answer time with writers.

I know putting a big name in a publication means increased readership. But I don't think publications should sacrifice quality for name recognition.

Thanks for your comments.
Most interesting. A very good post!
January said…
Pepek, you should try the meme. I'd love to hear your answers.
Very interesting responses. I know what you mean about well known poets and mediocre work. i can accept that the name may draw readers in but the poetry matters more than the names, my favourite poetry journals publish work that is vibrant often by people whose names i don't know.
I just might have to try this one! I am feeling quiet blogging-wise lately, but this is pretty irresistable...

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