26 jun. 2006

Ritual bashing of new poet laureate

Ronald Johnson, Robert Duncan, Frank O'Hara, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, Barbara Guest, James Schuyler, Ammons, John Ashbery, W.S. Merwin, Kenneth Koch, James Merrill, Gustav Sobin...

Surely poets born in the 1920s consitute the most significant group of poets in recent memory. The question: how far down the list would you have to get before you arrived at the name of DONALD HALL? How does one become a distinguished poet by not being, ever, distinguished, but not being a better poet than anyone else at any time, in any dimension of the poetic art? Mediocrity does not admit to degrees. You can't be the MOST mediocre. But if you could, if there was a such a thing as occupying the exact poetic mean (exactly as many poets better and worse than you?), Hall would be this emblematic figure, the paragon of mediocrity.

Famous for being a famous poet, but without ever having written a memorable line. He made his name as a basher of interesting poetry in the 1950s, then gradually drifted over to a dull position half-way between the Academic and the New American poetry--without ever getting there.

This is poetry for a culture that hates poetry, where everyone can be above average just by hanging on long enough. Woe-Be-Gone indeed.

1 comentario:

Bob dijo...

Apparently he's a terrifically amiable fellow. His anthologies probably spread some money around, too. When I was taking Robert Creeley's Modern Poetry class (1980?), he had Hall by for a class visit as well as a sponsored poetry reading.