Posts Tagged ‘dunya mikhail’

Panelists: Bob Hicok, Dunya Mikhail, Rigoberto González

There is a form of review called autobiographical analysis that I abhorred while in college and still do today to a certain extent. The practice in and of itself – using facts about the author’s life to read into the meanings of his/her work – is fine and a good exercise for thought, but since poems can be fiction just as easily as they can be fact (as well as everything in-between), more speculation can come from this particular form of analysis compared to other forms that strictly compare content between known facts about language’s historic and current affiliations. Arguably, poetry has become so ambiguous that it has started to alienate its would-be readers. So does poetry need the added hurdles of trying to figure out if what was said in a poem actually happened or how much of it didn’t. Does it matter? What are some of the benefits and drawbacks? In essence, that was what Tell All the Truth But Tell it Slant set out to answer.



Panelists: Nancy Morejón, Dunya Mikhail, Kwame Dawes, Malena Mörling

What could’ve been a very insightful banter between four poets whose nationalities differed as much as their relation to the United States did turned into more of a reading than discussion. In this all too short session, the poets, with the exception of Kwame Dawes, spent most of their time reciting poems instead of articulating their points. Of course, one could argue that, being from other countries originally, the poets felt more comfortable reciting what amounted to the passive haven of scripted lines as opposed to the daunting task of taking part in unpredictable banter. One could also argue that, hell, these are poets. They speak through their work, so why not let the work speak? I’ll answer the latter: because audible ingestion of poetry takes a quick wit and unflinching concentration. In short, speaking in poetry, while a wonderful exercise, does not make an accessible argument. It’s reflective rather than provoking. It ended up that Dawes read one poem to kick things off, and then the effect snowballed thereafter, with one poet reading as many as 5 poems. I believe Kwame’s heart was in the right place, and truly set a stage for great discussion, but his setup was foiled by the egos and anxieties every poet shares.