At the start of the New Year, poetry continues to engage opinion as to its worth and function in a challenging and changing environment. In the January 1, 2017, New York Times Book Review essay, "A Few Questions for Poetry, Daniel Halpern states that "the issue is larger than the number of poetry collections sold each year." He quotes the poet W.S. Merwin's view that poetry comes closer than any other art form to expressing what cannot be said. "Language itself is at the heart of our experience as human beings. Poetry sustains us. As for a more negative stance, William Logan, in his review of Marie Ponset's Collected Poems (NYT, September 2016), asserts that "poets usually begin by writing loads of rubbish, and a few ever write anything else." Grudgingly he praises Ponset's mature work, finding her undervalued. "We read such poets," he says, "to know how a poetic intelligence inhabits the world." Yet even the requirements of composing good work are open to consideration. The January-February 2017 issue of Poets & Writers features an article on the new Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, which brings out that the present laureate Juan Felipe Herrara wants poetry to be more spontaneous, no revision!
Neva Herrington is a poet and former educator. She is currently working on a new book of poetry, a collection of short stories, and her memoir. Her inspiration comes from her own experience and the work of other poets.