Benjamin Myers was the 2015-2016 Poet Laureate of the State of Oklahoma and is the author of three books of poetry: Black Sunday (Lamar University Press, 2018), Lapse Americana (New York Quarterly Books, 2013) and Elegy for Trains (Village Books Press, 2010). His poems may be read in The Yale Review, Rattle, 32 Poems, Image, Nimrod and other literary journals. He has written essays for First Things, The Gospel Coalition, The American Conservative, Oklahoma Today and other widely read venues. Myers lives with his wife and three children in Chandler, Oklahoma, and is the Crouch-Mathis Professor of Literature at Oklahoma Baptist University. His first book of non-fiction, A Poetics of Orthodoxy, was recently published by Cascade Books.
Benjamin Myers reviews Spoon River America: Edgar Lee Masters and the Myth of the American Small Town by Jason Stacy. Stacey explores the changing and contested myth of the midwestern small town, particularly in relation to Masters’s famous Spoon River Anthology. In Spoon River and its echoes throughout literary and popular culture, innocence struggles with cynicism, tradition with modernity, and a persistent populism with a perpetual elite.
I’m not canceling Whitman. But my own enthusiasm for his poetry is waning. The poet whose daring versification and daring lifestyle were once seen as the epitome of counter-culture has come to seem to me all too mainstream, the very voice of an age of superficial egotism.