I’m honored to have had one of my poems from this year, a haiku called “Hardwoods,” included in the annual “best of” collection at Plum Tree Tavern, an online poetry journal with a focus on nature.
Plum Tree Tavern welcomes poetry focusing on specific images of physical nature, rather than the poet’s judgment or opinion of nature. I find it very stimulating to write in this mode. It is surprisingly challenging to get the self (that is, the bourgeois “true” self that doesn’t actually exist but is constantly assumed) out of the picture long enough to crystallize an experience of the physical reality of the natural world.
Much modern poetry seems to me to consist primarily of self-indulgent emotion at the expense of evocative language or communicating an image. “Baring one’s soul” without giving any thought to how that soul came to be may feel good, but I’m not sure it’s the best place from which to start a poem. For as much as I appreciate the Romantic poets, I think the tendency to see poetry as a means of “expressing oneself” hobbles the ability of the poet to see herself both as a product of and agent in the world, and results in poetry that is, frankly, just not that interesting to read.
But such considerations are for another time, and another essay.