5 may. 2005

Yes, the evil dichotomizers are all on the avant-garde side. Mainstream poets never divide the poetry world into camps or factions. Oh no, that would be too similar to what Ron Silliman does, with his scandalous neglect of the poetic text itself. Mainstream poets represent poetry tout court. {French for "the whole tennis court") They have no ideogical agenda, but are just interested in the "text itself," enjoying poetry for its own sake, and overcoming the divisions. They are uniters not dividers. They stand for truth, beauty, and clarity. If an avant-garde poet (perhaps I should say arrière-garde; there is no avant-garde anymore: the modernists already did everything before anyway) complains about some imagined slight, some exclusionary logic, it is probably his fault for feeling slighted. There really is no difference between the avant-garde and the mainstream anyway; it's just who you hang out with--plus the fact that the avant-garde poets can't write clear and beautiful poems like the real poets do.

5 comentarios:

David Koehn dijo...

"Yip, yup, yup.'

The Swedish Cooks on the Muppets

Henry Gould dijo...

When you start thinking in terms of teams you have already lost it.

There are infinite possibilities for development of poetic form & style. Some poets foreground structure & form; others mute it. Some poets undermine ordinary speech & representation; others build on them. Most poets do some of both. The only criterion is the individual poets' mind & sensibility.

Some poets (of every label) engage in groups tactics of criticism (my group against theirs). Sometimes this is warranted, because some writers work in groups.

I'd like to know, however, what genuine new things about poetry, what genuine enlightenment or authentic literary experience, was ever gained by these tactics.

It's all blowing gas.

Jonathan dijo...

Yeah but.

Those who claim to have no ideology or agenda end up having one anyway. Some claim to have no "team," but they always root against one "team" more than another. For example, Gould might approve of Houlihan's attack on avant-garde poetry. But he has no "team." What authentic aesthetic experience does your comment provide? It's more contribution to the meta-debate.

Silliman's position locks him into thinking that all language poetry is of almost equal interest and value. That's the byproduct of "community." He's not going to write about how dull one of 100 best friend's poetry is, and I honestly don't think he even sees it as dull. Second line figures a promoted as great, in the same way that Ashbery promotes Ashbery imitators.

Henry Gould dijo...

I don't claim I've never descended from the Olympian heights to sully my cuffs with spatter.

My point is, it IS all mudslinging, & stupid, & stupefying.

I am definitely NOT saying there are not observable group styles & formations. What's useful, though, is disinterested explorations of the lines of thought or worldview or technique from which they proceed.

And I agree with Shepherd that the process ought to begin & end with the poems themselves. We lose sight of the whole purpose & effect of poems if we start treating them merely as exempla or effects of something else. This is how critics abuse both readers & poets - because they're more interested in promoting their own theories or their adopted teams, than in responding to the works themselves.

Jonathan dijo...


I can't disagree with that. Look at Silliman discussing Joseph Massey this morning on his blog. He's basically taking a close look at some poetic works themselves. If Ron would only stop phrasing judgments in terms of "the only precedent..." "the most YYYY poet of his generation," etc..., I think he would be more palatable.