13 jun. 2007

I have been reading Andrew Epstein's Beautiful Enemies on friendship in postwar American poetry. It's really very perceptive on O'Hara. I haven't read much of the book yet but I've already found a few quotes I'm going to appropriate (I mean quote with proper attribution) in the book I am writing. It always helps to have some really well-written quotes that make your point for you. Not your main point, but one that you need to make along the way. In this case, a very good summary of O"Hara plurality of selves. It's one of those books with quotable ideas on every page.

I noticed Kevin Killian has a mightily perceptive review at Amazon.com of this book, up already. Kevin has single-handedly converted Amazon into a serious venue for criticism.

Like Kevin, I am less interested in the American pragmatist and Emersonian angles. Perhaps not being an Americanist I don't care as much about tracing everything back to Emerson and Wiliam James. Isn't that the déformation professionelle of the Americanists? Not that it isn't a valid critical path to explore. There is a lot of Emerson in Ashbery, and a lot of Emersonian self-fashioning in O'Hara.

It also looks like it's going to be perceptive on Baraka/Jones.

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I cheated a bit in my McKuen/Merwin quiz. I had to make quotes by Rod very short and less frequent, because once you get past a few lines he becomes too obviously McKuenesque.

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I can make an argument for O'Hara as better informed about Spanish culture than most of his contemporaries. He curated that New Spanish Painting and Sculpture Exhibit for the MOMA in 1960. He had long conversations with Motherwell about Lorca in the 1950s and the last poem of his Collected Poems is "Little Elegy for Antonio Machado." It's not much, but it's more than most people of that time and place. (Too bad his elegy for Machado isn't all that great a poem.)

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In a letter to Robert Bly James Wright agonizes over the translation of a very simple phrase in Spanish in a Lorca poem he is trying to translate. He doesn't notice, however, that he has confused the verb "sonar" with the verb "soñar." It's like the New York times crossword that makes you write "ano" [anus] for año [year].

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I've been thinking about Reginald Shepherd's recent post about on-line discourse. It seems to invite a response, since he points the finger explicitly at avant-garde bloggers. Obviously, the degradation of discourse on the internet is the function of political blogs, adolescent chat-rooms, and the like. If there is some of this on avant-garde poetry blogs too, that is just spill-over--trolls finding a place to nest, like XXX in YYY's comment boxes. I agreed with Reginald in his general points until I noticed he could be talking about people like me. When I make a critical statement that seems irresponsible, it is usually something I can back up. My sometimes hyperbolic style shouldn't fool you: I actually do know what I'm talking about.

4 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

I've read you long enough now to take everything you say seriously!

Jordan dijo...

Another poet furious to find his own most-loathed qualities in other people.

Andrew Shields dijo...

Are you referring to Jonathan or to me? :-)

Jordan dijo...

Referring.. very dangerous. It's all love in my reference library, not to worry.