Samuel Taylor Coleridge famously drew a line: “prose — words in their best order; poetry — the best words in their best order.” Granted, Coleridge was a poet, not to mention a stoner of the first order, and therefore probably had a tendency to be defensive about things.
He was right, though. Had he not found life in death (to borrow a phrase) 180 years ago, dude would have been a force to be reckoned with on Twitter.
(Note to selves: Follow poets on Twitter.)
This being April — National Poetry Month, for those who keep score — the Voice thought it’d be cruel to ask Billy Collins to suggest a handful of New York poets we might reach out to for a collection of poems to share with readers. Collins, a New Yorker himself, and a former U.S. Poet Laureate, graciously obliged.
As did the poets, who, in response to our request for previously unpublished poems “about New York City, spring, or, frankly, anything you like,” supplied, to our great delight, all manner of beast.
And so we present to you the following pages. In a generation hectored for its declining readership, in an age in which pieces of writing that take longer than five minutes to read have their own hashtag, we’re pausing, ever so briefly, to honor the #shortform.
(140 characters: 100,000 chin-strokers may share a #longform story on social media. What % of that readership invests the time to digest even a single poem?)
Thanks to Billy Collins and all the poets who shared their work for this issue. Before we leave you to their work, we invite you also to listen to it for yourself, via our own Dial-A-Poem apparatus.
Yes. Yes, we did: We further imposed on our poets to record themselves reading their work. You can hear them humor us by calling 347-618-6376 and following the prompts. You know: “Press 7 for Philip Levine.”
Really! Press 7 for Philip Levine! Go ahead — do it!
For now, read the Voice‘s 2014 poetry issue right here.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 9, 2014