21 may. 2003

"I’ve sometimes wondered if the ease with which the first generation New York School connected with New York trade publishers wasn’t simply an accident of proximity, but also occurred at least in part because the NY School, at least until Mr. Berrigan showed up – and this really is Ted’s great contribution to this tendency – did not challenge the paradigm that American poetics was a tributary of British letters, a paradigm that has been central to all variants of the school of quietude."

Silliman this morning.

With all due respect, this seems slightly "off" to me. Whitman, Emerson, Williams, Sandburg, Edgar Lee Masters, L. Hughes, Vachel L. , William Carlos Williams... American poetry had not been a tributary of British poetry for a long time before Frank O'Hara came along. Why would O'Hara have to challenge some paradigm that was not even relevant to him any longer? That was the fight of the previous generation.

Admiring Auden only enriched O'Hara's poetry, lent it another dimension (the same could be said for Ashbery). The fact that the academic poetry of the time was also indebted to Auden should not lead us to dismiss this influence on O'Hara. If you aren't anxious about being too British, you can absorb poetic language without looking suspiciously at its origin. O'Hara already assumes the British tradition is not as strong or interesting as the American (in the 20th century).