Rasma Says

Musings, deliberations, flashes of unaccounted for brilliance…

Maybe I’m a stickler for detail… but even the moose stopped in their tracks!

I am still reeling from what I heard on a Poetry Magazine podcast this morning. I just fired a letter off to the editors, and will follow up this post here with their reply, if I get one. But I can’t help myself, I think this is shocking. Does anyone agree? Read the letter and you’ll know all you need to know….

Dear Poetry editors,

 

As I walked down a forest trail listening to your June podcast on headphones, I don’t know what startled me more: the sudden realization that what I had taken for prancing horseshoe prints were indeed moose tracks and I was now in danger, or hearing April Bernard’s poem “Bloody Mary” introduced as being about Mary Stuart Queen of Scots.

 

I couldn’t believe I heard correctly, and soon forgot the moose as I waited for the poem called “Anger” — so clearly about Henry VIII’s firstborn daughter, Mary Tudor, Queen Mary I,  whose killing rampage led to her being called bloody — to finish. But no, once again the subject of the poem is declared to be Mary Stuart, and all three of you yuk yuk along as if we all know why this poem is about Mary Stuart.

 

Goodness, while  Mary Tudor of England might have had an ally in Mary Stuart of Scotland, what with them both being Catholic and all, Queen Mary’s ANGER stemmed from her father’s divorce of her mother, for which he broke ties with the Pope and declared England Protestant. Mary killed Protestants left and right until her natural death and the ascension of her Protestant never-meant-to-be-queen sister, Elizabeth, to the throne.

 

What I wonder is, do you care about this inaccuracy and did anyone (hopefully the author) correct you? Once corrected what do you have to say about it? Is this error just par for the course, or is it grave enough to warrant a different attitude in your research department in the future?

I certainly hope so. One doesn’t need to know everything, but poets, editors and students of any subject must know not to assume anything either. If the poem is called “Bloody Mary” isn’t the first question, why? Who was Bloody Mary and why would the poet entitle the poem after her? This is a lesson in poetry reading on the 101 level – allusion.

 

I hope your response to my point is not a tut tut, as if American poets don’t need to bother themselves with British monarchic trivia. I hope to hear that Poetry Magazine, as a paradigm of English language poetic excellence, is ashamed of such a slovenly reading and discussion.

 

Most sincerely yours,

 

Rasma Haidri
expatriate American poet

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