New Jersey Bard

Today, I just wanted to write a little something about poetry.  By no means am I an expert on the topic (or even a passable amateur).  But if poetry is good and effective, it sticks with you and rears its head through all the embarrassing moments and regrets, and through all the humor and joy; it acts as a perpetual reminder of the beautiful and the horrible in everything (for me, at least).  My first forays into serious poetry were the works of Poe (to whom I thought as a very young child the term “poetry” was attributed) and Shakespeare.  I still love both dearly, but there is one modern poet in particular that can really grab me in a guttural way and keep me in his grasp:  Joe Weil.

Everyone knows my other favorites, such as Stephen Crane or Walt Whitman–they’re almost universally loved for their work, which is why I’m going to extrapolate on Joe Weil, a modern poet who isn’t as popular as he deserves to be.  Joe is from New Jersey and teaches at Binghamton University in Vestal, New York.  His life has been seemingly little more than a litany of tragedies that have shaped him into a man of considerable angst with a freewheeling willingness to lay bare his emotions to any passer-by.  And that is the key to his authenticity as a poet, I think (and the key to the authenticity of any successful artist):  a willingness to showcase everything, especially the ugly and the unfortunate.

Despite all the tragedy, Joe can (and does) make anything beautiful.  His style, which focuses on his blue collar past and the pain of family life, isn’t overly eloquent, but his observations and affirmations hit hard, haunting you for days, constantly stirring your thoughts like the marble in a can of spray paint.

Joe has two published books of poetry (that I know of) and both of them are spectacular.  Please, if you love poetry, do yourself a favor.

Here’s a little feature on Joe that I think is particularly good (also, at around five minutes into the video, he reads my favorite poem of his:  “The First Time I Got Up Early.”  If nothing else, just listen to that one poem).

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