On Poetry and Culture Shock

Cornell's literary life (once more)

I repeat that I use "poetry" to mean "art". Ysterday I went to a reading of the brilliant Misty Urban, who just won a prize for her short story "The Keeping of the Counts". If that's not poetry I don't know what is. I thought I would cry on a couple of occasions.

It was in a way very typical, predictable in its starting point and suject matter (I don't mean to say that this is a bad thing!!), considering it is coming from an MFA student. As I have said before, Cornell's student literary magazines include a disproportionate number of pieces about families. Pieces that cannot possibly be autobiographical, sometimes. But the main theme seems to be fear of loss or incommunication between close relatives. I don't think that anyone at all on Misty's position in Spain would have even thought of writing about a woman with a 4-year-old very sick son. We prefer to write about peer relationships, or love stories. We rarely find families that interesting, unless they are absolutely hellish, and then we are using them as an excuse for social realism.

Those stories on perfectly normal, slightly tense families (are you reading this from Spain? think of the first half of American Beauty, but without the climax) might be caused by the American sense of isolation and incommunication you get in a country that wants everything bigger better faster now, where people are made to choose between meaningful relationships and competitive careers, with relationships losing (I'm paraphrasing the lovely Autumn Watts here). if that is so, then.why is it that Spaniards on Misty Urban position always write love stories?

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