2 feb. 2004

HG Poetics: " An establishment in which poetry actually plays no part whatsoever. This may sound like zen but it's just basic literary criticism."

I agree completely. What I've come to conclude about literary theory: the real subject of literary theory is the academic institution itself in which this theory takes place. After all, why would anyone care about whether the meaning of the poem is inherent in the text, is the product of the author's intention, is created in the reader, or is the product of a Fishian "interpretive community" - unless there was some institutional context in which any of this mattered?

So yes, Silliman's opposition to SoQ has to do mostly with the institutional powers that influence public discussion of poetry. If only the New York Times Book Review contained more reviews of interesting books, people would be reading better poetry! This has nothing to do with poetry itself, but everything to do with access to it. I don't think you should have to be already hooked into the avant-garde system to even know this kind of writing exists. I know it's a tired argument, but it needs to be repeated as long as the conditions haven't changed.

I remember a time when you could find Gilbert Sorrentino discussing William Bronk in the NYTBR, so this is not an impossible goal. We should also have reviews of Henry Gould and numerous other poets in places where the mainstream reader, whoever she is, can find them.