Poems.com is a wonderful resource for time-strapped individuals to get a daily dose of contemporary poetry. Once called Poetry Daily (actually, still called that, just the website name has changed), its goal is to survey the landscape of contemporary poetry and put up a new poem, or poems as in today's spot, that the editors enjoy or think is worth showing. Occasionally, the poet may have passed away and the poem is from a new edition of their work, or a new translation might be posted. However, what makes Poems.com so refreshing is to see, day after day, new poems by living poets.
Today's poet was Alan Brownjohn, and he had four poems from his new book Ludbrooke and Others posted. Ludbrooke is a central character. All four poems are written in the close third person, one of which gets inside Ludbrooke's head after a day of trying to grab his suitcase from an airport baggage claim, where in his dream he "grab[s] at this symbol of himself."
Brownjohn has a brief biography on the website, which is another area where Poems.com helps to expose modern poets. He has a few books, was born in the 30s, and his picture shows him to resemble a man who says phrases such as, "but of course," and "yes, miss, the bacon please." Basically, he looks like a nice guy.
To go back to the poems quickly, I liked them because of the character they surround, this old Ludbrooke guy, who seems pretty interesting. The voice feels awkward, which we can assume to be very much like Ludbrooke's, but after getting over the seemingly "haughty-aire" the poems were fun to reread and poke.
This style of poetry book, where each poem surrounds a central character or characters, is interesting for its recent publishing success. I think of Tom Thomson in Purgatory that won the National Book Critics Circle Award, and Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions that won the Yale Younger Poets prize, by Troy Jollinmore and Maurice Manning, respectively. Does the appeal to a more fiction-read readership help to explain this phenomenon? That might be for another post (or your thoughts on this one). Until then, happy poems.com reading, folks.