In the world of contemporary poetry, there’s something of an intellectual battle between poets whose primary focus is how words sound next to one another and poets who feel that what their words mean, alone and in relation, is just as important as how they’re pushed and pulled for the music they can make. The second type of poem is not as easy to understand or digest as the first because more than a reader’s personal reaction is at stake: the writer’s point of view must be considered as well. The reward is that enjoyment of these poems tends to deepen with repeated readings and analysis. The Muse Times Two poetry series, now beginning its fifth year, favors poetry with meaning. In the first reading of the season, 4 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 21, at Collected Works Bookstore (202 Galisteo St.), Erin Belieu and Henry Shukman read from their new books. Though very different in tone, style, and scope, the work of both poets takes on culture and history. In Slant Six, her fifth book of poetry, Belieu uses humor to explore the modern American condition and question our received morality. Archangel is Shukman’s second book of poetry; he has also written novels, short stories, and nonfiction. Most of the poems in Archangel center around Shukman’s grandfather and great-uncle, who were among several thousand Jewish tailors deported from England to the Russian Empire in 1917. Muse Times Two pairs a poet from outside New Mexico with a local one. In this case, Shukman lives in Santa Fe and is the resident teacher at Mountain Cloud Zen Center. Belieu, who lives in Tallahassee, Florida, is the co-founder and director of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and is the artistic director of the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference. For more information, call 505-988-4226.

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