30 jun. 2005

Ok. Now I've read Halliday's hard-hitting piece on Tate in Pleiades. Basically, the idea is that Tate's stuff doesn't stand up to the reverential treatment implicit in a critical anthology devoted to his poetry. Now usually in such anthologies you wouldn't expect to find much negative criticism at all, unless it's the type of work which aims to chronicle the critical reception of a certain poet . In a book of essays on Niedecket, for example, you wouldn't have any essays arguing that Niedecker is *just not that good a poet.* Thus the suggestion that they should have had an essay by a Tate-detractor seems odd on one level. However, we since we all know that Tate is a brilliantly light-weight poet, we need some acknowledgment that that is indeed the case,or alternatively, a more spirited defense against his detractors.

Halliday disputes the assertion that Tate's work has a lot of grief in it, but I think that is a perfectly reasonable claim; it's just that the grief is always expressed behind a particular Tatean schtick that has become all too familiar.

The problem is that he's simply written too many poems, is too prolific in proportion to the relative lack of depth and seriousness of his poetic project, too successful and prize-winning in proportion to the overall quality of his work. Halliday wants more demonstration of Tate's value to a skeptical reader, less taking-for-granted that Tate is deserving of exegesis.

I like some of Tate's work a lot, but wouldn't argue against Halliday's identifications of his weaknesses. In fact, I have said similiar things about him myself. Halliday himself likes Tate about the same as I do, I suspect.

2 comentarios:

Henry Gould dijo...

I thought Halliday's bit about Tate & Ashbery as permanent high schoolers, acting up in the back row, was pretty funny. He's pointing out some limitations, not condemning them to oblivion.

Jonathan dijo...


Clever, yes. It works a little better for Tate than for JA. The latter, despite his limitations and repetitions, has developed more as a poet, is not a case of "arrested development" like Tate (arguably) is.