Best Poet (2009)

Louis Jenkins

Louis Jenkins would have written this paragraph better than we did. He would have written it more musically, but also somehow more bluntly. The sentences would have fit together with stronger, yet subtler, transitions. In the last 30 years, Jenkins has mastered—tackled, subdued, harnessed—the prose poem. He's got more than 10 books to his name—most recently this winter's limited-edition run of European Shoes—and his poems have been widely anthologized, from Milkweed's Minnesota Writes to Garrison Keillor's Good Poems to The Best American Poetry. Mostly they look just like this blurb: brief and rectangular. But often his words tease out from this familiar paragraph form an unlikely chaos, his acute observations and mini-epiphanies casting readers' brains and emotions into turmoil. Though Jenkins is a Duluth native, the metropolis throws a distinct shadow over his world (as implied by the title of his 2007 collection North of the Cities), and the poet often dips down to Minneapolis and St. Paul to read, to lecture, and, one imagines, to absorb more urban ephemera that he'll dissect when he's back at his desk in Duluth, writing his next paragraph, which will no doubt be better than this one.


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