Saturday, May 19, 2007

Top Five

I happened to read Wikipedia’s entry on Robert Hass, and I noticed this: “In Hass’ opinion, the five most important poets of the last 50 years were Chilean Pablo Neruda, Peruvian Cesar Vallejo, and Polish poets Zbigniew Herbert, Nobel-winner Wislawa Szymborska, and Nobel-winner Czesław Miłosz.” There’s no citation for the quote and I’m not sure Wikipedia can be trusted that Hass really said that, but it’s interesting. Were three of the five most important poets of the last fifty years Polish? Were none English-speaking? Is there no place for Seamus Heaney or Sylvia Plath? I’m not sure who my own picks for the Top Five would be, although I’d probably save a place for Tomas Tranströmer (see his poem “Grief Gondola, #2” here) and Yehuda Amichai (see his poem “A Jewish Cemetery in Germany” here, which by the way is interesting to compare with Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Facing It”).

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