Contemporary Short Stories, Music, Poetry

I really enjoyed this essay by Jean Thompson responding to Stephen King's (predictable) take-down of the "literary" short story. The same argument about "elitism" & "difficulty" has been made (endlessly) about contemporary poetry. Not directly related, perhaps, but I was reminded of my old friend Davy Rakowski's remarks about writing contemporary music:
I write music. Concert music. Texas tea. The music is difficult (it's not just hard, it's damn hard, or in Maine, wickid had), not tonal in the traditional diatonic sense ("tonal" is an imprecise word, and in many senses, my music IS tonal -- it has also been called "atonal," "with more tonal centers that you used to have," "sounds like it's in a minor key," "pretty," and "unremarkable"), and somewhat traditionally structured -- and it has lots and lotsa notes. People who use language imprecisely call the music "Modernist." Others have called it "Romantic", "total rockout" and "borderline Neoclassical". Go figure.
I write poetry. Literary poetry. The poetry can be difficult . . .

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

2 thoughts on “Contemporary Short Stories, Music, Poetry”

  1. sometimes i think i wrote against death to let myself unfold as alive. today 5 decades on i see writing as a either a distribution point or an end one and my life as not more than any living thing that germinates and in proceeding may continue a wheel of life westering with the sun ‘out there’ from here bending over the pacific rim. but whatever it is i am here and this is what i do here. sunset and sunrise and gloaming and high noon. a celebration and a meditation in the french manner. edward mycue

  2. Yeah, Ed, & that sort of work tries to sing outside — or at least at the edges of — the various commercial systems of distribution for the writing. As Davy says about music, it’s not easy & it’s not meant to be easy. I suppose that means that many readers will turn away, which is their right, of course. Who can blame them, given what we have to offer?

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