Rus Bowden, who does Poetry and Poets in Rags over at the Interboard Poetry Community, sent me a very nice email this morning, which he has graciously said I could quote from. Specifically, he wrote that "In the announcements, I have referred to you as our friend, especially that you came though for us, and the way you have. Thank you, friend." I am honored to be thought of as friend of the IBPC. It's one of the best things that's happened to me since I became The Inquirer's book editor five years ago. It's the sort of thing that makes the job worthwhile.
This connectionm that can take place between and among people who communicate over the Internet is one of those things the mainstream media has failed to notice much, let alone appreciate. It comes, I think, from the simple satisfaction you get from encountering others who are passionate about the things you are passionate about yourself. I actually didn't think I was doing the IBPC a favor by judging their competition; Ithought they were doing me a favor in asking. In a sense I learned more about the contemporary poetry scene from reading the poems they sent me than I could have from going through all the books of poetry that are in my office.
Martin Heidegger was a dubious man and, in my view, an overrated thinker. But he did say at least one thing that is worth pondering (because it's true), that poetry is the essential form of speech. To write a poem means to use the full potential of language -- using a word in such a way that its different senses apply simultaneously, arranging the syntax in such a way as to maximize the meaning, shaping images that resonate both emotionally and intellectually -- and maybe even viscerally. All of that and more. If more people studied and practiced poetry fewer people would be taken in by cheap rhetoric and specious arguments. More might also come to realize that there really are sins of thought and word, as well as deed.