At times, though, Hacker’s cosmopolitanism has adversely affected her formal choices. Like so many others these days, she has fallen under the spell of the ghazal, and the book contains too many of them. This Persian form has become the multicultural flavor of the month for many poets who are formally-minded, and it’s a very tough nut to crack in English. Hacker is no more immune to this linguistic weakness than anyone else, as shown in lines like the following: “I might wish, like any citizen to celebrate my country/but millions have reason to fear and hate my country.” In short, there are some poems here that read like outtakes from Poets Against the War (“the war goes on and on and on and on”).
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Review in Poetry
In the latest issue of Poetry magazine, I value Christina Pugh's notice about Marilyn Hacker's and Heather McHugh's latest books, not merely because we have the art of poetry sagely and sanely considered, and not merely because the reviewer considers the work of two very different poets with equal ease and aplomb -- but because of this paragraph, a withholding of praise in an otherwise laudatory summation :