Author Archives: Nora E. Derrington

From the X-Men to the Greeks of Antiquity: Genre in Contemporary Poetry

Nora E. Derrington -- April 1st, 2013

Happy National Poetry Month!

You may not have been expecting an exclamation like that in a blog post with the “Genreville” tag, but the truth is that there’s a lot of poetry out there that plays with genre tropes, or fits into the category of genre entirely (and I’m using genre here as an umbrella term that includes fantasy, horror, mystery, romance, or science fiction). People often still seem to have the idea that poetry is inaccessible, suited only for those in ivory towers, but poetry that includes elements of the supernatural, mythological, or romantic (just to cite a few possibilities) can give readers points of connection, of entry. I know I can’t be the only person around here who was first drawn into both poetry and horror by the darkly creepy atmosphere of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven”! In that spirit, then, here are a handful of recommendations for poetry that incorporate genre.

Lucille Clifton: The Book of Light

Clifton is perhaps best known for her poems that explore feminist ideas and celebrate her African-American heritage, but her work explores mythological and speculative themes as well. Perhaps most notable, at least for our purposes here, is her series of poems addressed to Superman, published in her 1993 collection The Book of Light: “if I should,” “further note to clark,” “final note to clark,” and “note, passed to superman.” If you could write a note to Superman–or another fictional or mythological character–what might you say? What Clifton chose to say might surprise you, but it makes for compelling reading.

Gary Jackson: Missing You, Metropolis

Jackson takes the idea of including comic book characters in poetry several steps further in his debut collection, Missing You, Metropolis. Poems that describe the realities of growing up African-American in Kansas rub shoulders with monologues from characters as well known as  Lois Lane and Magneto, or as obscure as Dazzler. Jackson’s love for the comic genre shines through in this collection, making it a must-read for anyone who appreciates the form. Continue reading