“No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written, he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.”

—Jean Cocteau

“Poets treat their experiences shamelessly, they exploit them.”


When the deciding was done and we had the poems to be published in this 5th Anniversary double issue of the Melic Review, the curmudgeonly editor recognized an underlying theme in the works—“Disconnected.” Perhaps this was in some way a reflection of said editor’s own feelings, having recently disconnected himself from the United States by way of Mexico.

But this got me thinking about the idea of connectivity and disconnectedness in poetry and in the life of the poet. Isn’t poetry all about connectivity, neuron flashes, words and images pasted together on a magical dot-to-dot canvas? The way a poet looks at a tree and thinks of his life. But then the very nature of poetry almost forces the poet to disconnect, to recollect in tranquility. Imagine how the non-poet must view the poet’s routine—how the poet spends hours upon hours changing little words and phrases, and for what? There is no monetary gain, and often no recognition at all.

Poets seek to connect, but this seeking often causes further disconnections. Eliot worked as a bank clerk for years (until given a position at Faber and Faber in 1925), which helped keep his external life disconnected from his internal life. Others didn’t manage as well—Chatterton, Berryman, Plath, Sexton, Crane, Jarrell, and Teasdale.

And yet, is this feeling of being disconnected limited to poets? Limited to artists? I doubt it. For every Rothko, Gorky, Van Gogh, Hemingway, Woolf, Kosinski, Cobain, there are a thousand others, not artistic, left nameless.

Who still believes the lie of the global village? Recently I was at a concert, my first big rock concert in years. The band was Phish and the audience was young and tie-dyed. Midway through the concert, I noticed that people on all four sides of me had cell phones against their ears– talking to others not at the concert, talking to those at the concert in distant seats. It seemed odd to me that even though the music was happening then, the immediacy of the event was lessened by the persistent need for these individuals to be elsewhere too. They were disconnecting themselves by connecting. The global village is populated by invisible souls, ghosts, and the disconnected.

And maybe this is why so many poets are writing poems about disconnections— in personal relationships, riding the broad avenues of loss, or lacking political direction.

I hope the poems we chose connect with you.

—Jim Zola