(poetry diary 131) I’ve been depressed by the defeated tone of Stephen Burt’s recent Washington Post interview, in which he says that poetry is unlikely to “make America better or ameliorate the mess we’re in now.” There’s a lot of other good bits of the interview, though, including recommendations like this:

“I really like Bruce Smith. He’s been writing for — I think there are like 30 or 40 years of books. He’s a little older than me. And his most recent books are not the most accessible books, but they’re the best books. In his last few books, his great subjects have included: What happens to Rust Belt masculinity? What happens to Southern masculinity? What happens to the idea of a working class? He’s also thinking about black and white race relations from a white perspective in a way that’s quite intelligent. Why do people who are like him become who they are?

“He’s certainly not a Trump voter, but some of the feelings that led people who had real concerns to choose Trump are in Bruce Smith’s poetry.”

Devotion: The Burnt-Over District – Bruce Smith

Late fall in the villages of Pompey, Preble, Oran, Delphi Falls,
river and woods. In Homer and Ovid, the localities
      and principalities
of central New York, the hollows and corners of the
      burnt-over districts