[New-Poetry] Is American Poetry at a Dead End?
junction at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 12 10:37:37 EST 2010
Or if more got eaten by lions. Hint: It's cheaper to go to the zoo.
At 10:23 AM 12/12/2010, you wrote:
>Well, I have to agree with John Barr that our
>poetry would be better if more American poets
>went on safaris. Maybe the Poetry Foundation could do something about that.
>From: David Graham <grahamd at ripon.edu>
>To: NewPoetry List <new-poetry at charlemagne.cddc.vt.edu>
>Sent: Sun, Dec 12, 2010 10:18 am
>Subject: Re: [New-Poetry] Is American Poetry at a Dead End?
>Prominent poets speak out by Anis Shivani
>Now I've read through the article. It's a lot
>better than I anticipated it would be. My fear
>was that it would be mostly a rehash of
>hand-wringing platitudes about the parlous state
>of contemporary verse, with the obligatory
>swipes at the academy. And there is some of
>that present from the various commentators. But
>there is also a healthy range of views,
>including some vigorous disagreement. That
>seems about right, in capturing something
>essential about the current state of poetry in the U.S.
>I was heartened to see a number of poets quite
>sensibly questioning the premises behind the
>questions they were asked, for another thing,
>and replying in a more interesting vein than
>they were prompted to. Several made a point
>that I would have: that "modernism" is hardly
>monolithic, and contains all sorts of variety,
>just as the current scene does.
>And several poets made a point of trying to put
>the inane questions in a richer historical
>context. One thing that drives me up the wall
>in a lot of similar debates is the lack of
>historical grounding that you often see--I am
>thinking of various godawful panels at AWP &
>elsewhere in which younger poets don't seem very
>aware of any poetry before about 1960. If one's
>idea of The Tradition begins with Allen Ginsberg
>and Anne Sexton, well, discussion seems rather delimited.
>One of my favorite voices was Wayne Miller. Let
>me end by quoting him at some length. Plenty to
>ponder & argue with here, I think; but in any
>case he's attempting to look at matters
>holistically and historically, and not just
>complaining about "the MFA" or whatever was in
>the latest issue of Supercool Review. He's also
>aware that there are many flavors in the current
>stew as well as many continuities with earlier debates.
>At any point in poetic history, one finds
>hand-wringing about the state of the art. These
>days, Tony Hoagland is concerned by the
>"skittery poem of our moment," Ron Silliman
>complains about the pervasiveness of the "School
>of Quietude," Franz Wright worries about the
>chatty sociability--the lack of focused
>quietness--found in the "MFA generations,"
>Dorothea Lasky is bothered by too many poets
>writing "projects," John Barr complains about
>the lack of safari-going among today's poets,
>Ange Mlinko decries the legacy of Lowell's
>"tyranny of psychological verismo," Michael
>Theune frets that "middle-ground poets" don't
>have clear evaluative criteria, Anis Shivani
>worries about the "mechanical" nature of our
>poetry, and numerous poets have asserted in
>response to Ashbery that "the emperor has no clothes."
>I say "these days" because we could also be in
>some other historical moment when, say, William
>Carlos Williams is complaining about T. S.
>Eliot's "conforming to the excellencies of
>classroom English," or M. L. Rosenthal is
>bothered by the "shameful" nature of
>Confessional poetry, or France is scandalized by
>Baudelaire's "incomprehensible" and "putrid"
>work, or Ezra Pound is attacking the influence
>of Walt Whitman, whose Leaves of Grass "is
>impossible to read [. . .] without swearing at
>the author almost continuously," or the Acmeist
>poets are decrying the lack of craft in the work
>of the Russian Symbolists, or Dunstan Thompson
>is complaining of "the smugness, the sterility,
>the death-in-life which disgrace the literary
>journals of America" in that poetic nadir of
>1940--the same year Auden published Another
>Time, E. E. Cummings published 50 Poems, Kenneth
>Fearing published his Collected Poems, and
>Kenneth Rexroth and Robert Hayden made their literary debuts.
>The legacy of Modernism is alive and
>well--though, frankly, it's so broad as to be
>pretty much unbetrayable. After all, the
>Language poets and Philip Levine both envision
>their work as building on William Carlos
>Williams. Robert Bly thought "Deep Image" poetry
>was a return to true Imagism, yet Ron Silliman
>lumps Bly and James Wright with many of the
>"academic" and Confessional poets Bly excoriated in The Fifties.
>All poetry lives somewhere on a spectrum between
>Classicism and Romanticism. If high Modernists
>such as Eliot, Pound, and Moore tilt toward the
>Classical side, and the Confessional and Beat
>poets inhabit the Romantic, then we've more or
>less marked the boundaries of the Modernist
>legacy. But that gives us quite an aesthetic and
>intellectual range to play around in.
><mailto:grahamd at ripon.edu>grahamd at ripon.edu
>New-Poetry mailing list
><mailto:New-Poetry at wiz.cath.vt.edu>New-Poetry at wiz.cath.vt.edu
>New-Poetry mailing list
>New-Poetry at wiz.cath.vt.edu
New from Chax Press: Mark Weiss, As Landscape.
$16. Order from http://www.chax.org/poets/weiss.htm
"What a beautiful set of circumstances! What a
lovely concatenation of particulars. Here is the
poet alive in every sense of the word, and
through every one of his senses. Instead of
missing a beat or a part, Weiss fragments are
like Chekhovs short storiesthe more that gets
left out, the more they seem to contain
hear echoes from all the various
ancestors...[but] the voice, at its center, its
core, is pure Mark Weiss. His use of the fragment
is both elegant and bafflingly clear, a pure
[it] opens a window, not only
into a mind, but a person, a personality, this
human figure at the emotional center of the poem."
M.G. Stephens, in Jacket.
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the New-Poetry