By Victor D. Infante
When we began plotting out content for Radius, elegies for poets made its way onto the list pretty quickly. In the first instance, it was a reaction to an atrocious few years and the loss of a number of poets of both personal and professional significance. But in the midst of all that loss, I found myself pondering the poets and their work, and found myself realizing just how easily it could be lost, how easily the small press books and homemade ’zines, the chapbooks and websites could fade from view.
These elegies, then, serve a number of purposes. First and foremost, they’re road signs, pointing back to writers whom, in all honesty, probably should have been better appreciated while they were here. But the elegy, when applied to a poet, is also a commentary on the poets’ work, of sorts, transmitting a spark from poet to elegist to reader. It’s a place where poetry touches poetry, creating an electrical current, a hum of life that arcs across the art form’s history, pulses into its future.
It seems a bit much weight to put on something so seemingly insubstantial as an elegy, but then, that’s the sort of burden poetry’s always been intended to carry, the kind that seems, on the outside, to be almost trivial, but which behind closed doors matters everything.
And these poems, and the poets they elegize, do matter everything, and these elegies are merely road signs, pointing the way back to poetry that was vital and valuable, poetry that, if you’re quick and lucky, you might be able to find before it’s vanished.