“I shun the man-made world and stay at home.
This suits the world, since I am very queer.”
– August 1, 2009
Formalist poets are, by and large, fence sitters politically. Such ambivalence, doubtless, is the most prudent strategy in life and in art. However, there is a small minority whose members are unafraid to articulate their political opinions. Some are outright marxists (Dr Quincy Lehr and Janice D Soderling, most notably) and some are paleoconservatives (Dr Joseph S Salemi and myself). There are also poets whose main political agenda is to remind us that they are gay or lesbian, most notably Tim Murphy and Mary Meriam.
Murphy is now a prominent formalist whose ditties on topics such as dogs, boys, and Jesus are well known and even anthologized. Though Meriam is the most prominent middle-aged lesbian formalist poet to emerge in the past few years, her verse is not as well known. In 2006, Modern Metrics published “The Countess of Flatbroke.”
At her website, Ms Meriam lists her degrees in “poetry” and states she studied under Joseph Brodsky(1940-1996) and Derek Walcott while a student at Columbia University in the early 1980s. What talented aspirant would not like to have those masterful poets as mentors? Brodsky famously had his students commit entire anthologies to memory and would insult stupid and lazy charges. Of course, Walcott, in his day, is said to have been even more demanding, requiring an occasional go-down.
Alas, in “The Countess of Flatbroke” the influence of these Nobel Prize winners is not detectable.