I’ll be honest. There was a time when I would have looked askance at this honor, though that time is far enough back in my youth that the possibility of a website like LoveLifePoems had not even been imagined. What would have bothered me back then is the fact that the site is not literary. Many of the poems published there, at least based on the sample I have read, are amateurish, overly sentimental and cliche, precisely the opposite of the qualities I was taught to value not just in my own work, but in the work alongside of which I wanted mine to be published. It is a kind of elitism I have long since disowned and that I find, frankly, offensive when I encounter it in others. It’s not that I have come to think that all poems are equal, that standards of quality are meaningless when it comes to poetry–two arguments that I have heard many times over the years, mostly from people for whom writing poetry is more a matter of cathartic self-expression than the disciplined practice of an art form. Rather, it’s that I have come to respect the fact that poems like the ones on LoveLifePoems were, are and will be of use to people. Independently of their literary quality, these are poems that have, among other things, given comfort, expressed love, longing and lust; helped people feel less alone in the world and sustained lovers across long distances. They have, in other words, done what poetry has always done, given shape in language to perhaps the one need that defines us as human: the need to reach across the space that separates us, even when we cannot touch, and make ourselves known, for it is in knowing that we are, that we have been known that the first possibility of love exists.
Who am I to deny the value of poems that do that just because they do not meet the literary standards of the moment? What greater honor is there to bestow upon a poet than to say that her or his poems have done that for you? So I am honored, and humbled, that the editors of LoveLifePoems have chosen Light, from my book The Silence of Men, for their Best of the Web collection. I hope you will go and read my poem and then stay to check out some of the work that is published there.
Cross posted on Because It’s All Connected.