I Just Wrote This Five Minutes Ago are the words nobody wants to hear from a fledgling poet behind a microphone. The warning works hand-in-hand with another poetry-world mantra that's emblazoned on the submissions page of countless litmag websites: "Before submitting, read one of our issues to get an idea of what kind of poems we publish." Implying as they do a lack of effort, expertise, or knowledge, these statements keep normies away from the proudly embattled form that is poetry.
But Carl Watts? first book of poetry criticism makes the counterintuitive argument that it is the nebulous lack of professionalism and prestige that makes poetry vital. Working his argument through a series of interlocking paradoxes, Watts shows how contemporary poetry creates meaning and value — an especially pertinent finding at a time when we?re expected to always be competing in the neoliberal race for self-improvement. Watts suggests that, at last, poetry might get real work out of us, in the process locating and grounding us among real people and a real practice.
About the author
Carl Watts is from Hamilton, Ontario. He holds a PhD in English from Queen's University, where he wrote a dissertation about evolving conceptions of nationalism and ethnicity in twentieth-century Canadian fiction written in English. He has taught literature at Queen's, Royal Military College, and Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in mainland China. His articles, book reviews, and poems have appeared in various Canadian, American, and British journals. He has published two poetry chapbooks, Reissue (Frog Hollow, 2016) and Originals (Anstruther, 2020), as well as a short monograph, Oblique Identity: Form and Whiteness in Recent Canadian Poetry (Frog Hollow, 2019). His more recent research interests include poetry subcultures, poetry anthologies, travel writing, expat communities, and addiction.