Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tony Hoagland's "Dean Young Effect"

In the new issue of APR, Tony Hoagland is back at it again, talking about the new poetry, and saying how it’s derivative and not worth much.

Before I start quoting:

I’ve talked about this sort of thing before:

I’ve nothing against Tony Hoagland’s poems. I don’t own any of his books, but I don’t’ have anything really negative to say about them. He does what he does. I’m not very interested in it, but I can see that others would be. But, I can’t go very far through one of his essays before I just want to start ranting. And also, I’ve nothing against the poetry of Dean Young. Actually, I like his work, and have several of his books.

What I find so annoying about Hoagland’s essays is that he tends to use examples from very young writers to say very general and large things about some much larger group. This time, he’s saying the group is the Cult of Dean Young. It’s very unfair to go after a few young poets, especially ones who haven’t published much (excepting Mark Yakich, who I think Hoagland intentionally misrepresents), to make statements about a whole generation. If you’re going to start throwing stones, you should throw them at more established writers, otherwise it makes the argument look like what Hoagland’s argument looks like to me: an easy puff piece. Also, it’s, well, absurd to make generalizations about a generation of writers, to call something the new poetry, when all your examples are male. In Hoagland’s economy of the new poetry, women don’t seem to exist. That, in and of itself, is enough to make me want to throw his argument out. It’s also a heterosexual thing, full of heterosexual eros.

His thesis: Dean Young is a genius, and all these young male writers out there who are younger than he is are writing in his shadow and are not geniuses.

I suppose such an argument could be made. But it could be made in any age around a strong poet. There were essays I remember about fifteen or so years ago saying much the same thing about Jorie Graham. All this proves is that Dean Young is going to get a Pulitzer prize soon. Probably within a couple years. And Hoagland’s essay seems an attempt to set that stage. That’s all well and good, but why the pot shots at all the younger (male) poets? What’s the benefit?

Well, I think it has to do with the kind of stage Hoagland is setting for Dean Young. Hoagland’s Dean Young is a domesticated Dean Young, more like Keats than Ashbery. In other words, Dean Young is OK. He’s one of us. We can let him in without letting in all those “elliptical” poets to whom we’re in opposition

Blah. Such an argument might be great for the canonization of Dean Young, but one has to be careful to cherry pick his poems to make the argument.

Nevertheless, I’m fine with Dean Young getting a Pulitzer prize. Like I said, what I’m finding so inexcusable is Hoagland’s characterization of the next generation. What this all means to me is that Tony Hoagland is greatly under read in the poets he’s talking about. His support for the assertion that these poets are emblematic of the next generation, is that “any teacher-poet who has read manuscripts for competitions, or screened applications for prizes or graduate program admissions of the last ten years, can recognize [them].”

I consider this pretty thin anecdotal evidence. What he’s really saying is that he’s that “teacher-poet,” and it makes sense to me that he would see these sorts of manuscripts, because poets who write this way are often aware of his work, and they think he might be sympathetic. His next book, due out in January, is titled Unincorporated Persons of the Late Honda Dynasty, after all. That could easily be the title of a Dean Young book.

Next Hoagland puts Dean Young up as the thing that is to be wholly emulated, so that Young’s attributes can become the bar that others are to get to—he’s the controlling genius, but Young, as well, is a combination of tendencies, as Hoagland admits, but fails to understand. Dean Young, according to Hoagland, sounds like Billy Collins, John Ashbery, Robert Hass, and Kenneth Koch, by turns. There’s no attention paid to a counter claim that Dean Young, as well as many other poets, though constantly being influenced back and forth, might all be responding to something in the culture, and that others are not participating in cheap imitation born of envy. Weren’t Russell Edson, James Tate, Charles Simic, John Ashbery, etc, doing much the same thing 40 years ago (to keep the examples only on boys, as Hoagland seems to want us to do)?

I also dislike the way he talks about Surrealism, by the way. In fact, I don’t much like the way he talks about anything in this essay, or in previous essays I’ve read by him.

OK, I’ve said my piece. I’m now going to let Hoagland have his say at describing the next generation, the Cult of Dean Young:

+ + +

“The American modifications to the imported surrealist aesthetic (which to some extent have turned Surrealism from theology into a fashion statement) have been two [. . .] ironic tonal deflation and a certain kind of cartooniness in the use of image. American surrealism (consider Strand, Tate, and Lux) usually has a kind of auxiliary self-conscious goofiness, and acknowledgement of the difference between the literary reality of France in 1915 and the 20th-century American culture. [As if Surrealism only comes from France?] [Dean] Young’s poetic incorporates these American features, but retains the essentially heroic mission of Surrealism proper.”

So what Hoagland is setting up is that Dean Young is like (but more pure) these older male poets who are already established and incorporated into the canon, and fundamentally unlike the younger poets who admire him. This is the bedrock of his argument: Dean Young is one of US, not one of THEM. He’s the end of a tradition, and everything after him in this lineage is not good. It’s an old argument, isn’t it? Doesn’t every generation make it? I’ve heard Stevens talked about in this way years ago when people were trying to say he was great but that Ashbery wasn’t . . .

Ah, time! The cluttered march!

“We are living in a time of poetic explosion; the university creative writing systems have not just trained a lot of young poets in literary craft, they have fermented these young artists in a broth of language theory, critical vocabulary and aesthetic tribalism, which the age apparently demands.”

Boy do I hate when people take this approach. Oh, the horrors of learning things! Oh, how much better we are, who don’t need to have our minds cluttered with all that mumbo jumbo! And tribalism! How wonderful that our tribe doesn’t do that! You know?

“The New Poetry, called by some “ellipticism,” can be generally characterized as stylistically high-spirited and technically intensive, intellectually interested in various forms of gamesmanship, in craft and “procedure,” acutely aware of poetry as language “system.” These young and not so young poets have invented a whole vocabulary of techniques for disassembly, deflection, ventriloquism, miming, theatricality, misdirection, and feinting. The self, in their manifold species of poems, is more theatrical than confessional or meditative; their sense of “voice” is not so much an organic extension of self, but more an artifice, a fabrication of vocabularies and rhetorics. Such a poetic voice proves itself by constant and erratic motion, throwing off guises one after another.”

OK, a couple things. One, isn’t “their sense of “voice” is not so much an organic extension of self, but more an artifice, a fabrication of vocabularies and rhetorics” simply a definition of how “voice” is constructed in a poem? It would seem to be as true for Keats (no matter what he’d say about it) as well as Poet X of the New Poetry? And second, doesn’t this paragraph describe The Waste Land as well as Book X of the New Poetry?

He goes on:

“But there is a downside as well as an upside to imitation. To begin with, Young’s admirers have a difficult act to follow. It is a bitter fact of life that the neural associative capacity of a Dean Young is pretty rare. His method suits no one as well as Dean Young. The nets of association whose spaces he adroitly negotiates, others fall through. The transformative associative cornucopia that tumbles out of his poems by the bushelful seem, not the result of will, but of a born and cultivated genius. Elliptical as they might be in presentation, Young’s poems have the intrinsic strength of arising from a unified psyche.”

So, all you poets out there, Hoagland is saying, who I think write like Dean Young, you better cut it out, because I know Dean Young, and you, you young male poets, are no Dean Young. He’s a genius, and you’re not. He’s more like us that he’s like you, so cut it out, I’m warning you. His brain is better than yours. If you persist, I’ll make examples of you, you un-unified psyche-boys.

“Even if the energetic hijinks of Young’s style can be simulated, the coherent under-discourse is less easy to emulate . . . . [H]is poetic nephews and nieces often manage only to portray a speaker who is entertainingly baffled and dismayed. They are better able to fracture than to put together.”

“. . . . For al the potential richness of “hybridity,” such splicing can be a dysfunction as easily as a function. The acquisition of speech gestures is part of what imitation, and writerly apprenticeship, is all about, but not to be able to attach those gestures effectively, or excitingly to one’s own psychic necessity, is to remain only a technician, not a poet.”

Once again, he brings in some internal, scientific-sounding, thing: “psychic necessity.” I’ve no idea what he’s talking about, and I’m pretty certain he doesn’t either. If he’s really talking about broken psyches and psychic necessity, how he’d be able to look inside the poets to know is beyond me, and if he’s really just saying that Dean Young writes better than grad students, he should have realized that before he started writing, and chosen some other subject entirely, for such a realization should be not much of a realization at all.

“Is it possible that manners can be acquired without a sense of their original, originating context, and their tonal implications?” Hoagland asks. It’s a similar point Jorie Graham made years ago talking about the students she was seeing. Something to the effect that they saw all the moves 20th-century poets made outside of the politics behind those moves. But how is Hoagland to know that poets don’t know the “originating context”? All he can know is that they don’t exhibit a knowledge of this “originating context” to Hoagland’s satisfaction, much like Strand, Tate, and Lux (to continue his examples) were criticized for “appropriating” Surrealism years ago . . .

“Absurdism has a kind of seductiveness, we know, and obliquity can resemble—in fact, can be—daring. But how can there be daring when there are no stakes?” he goes on to ask. I respond by saying that he, by writing aggressively against these poets is creating an atmosphere of stakes, so this very writing that he says has no stakes now has stakes as it courts his dismissal. Granted, no one’s standing in front of a tank here, but still, cultural capital isn’t nothing. Hoagland has it, and he’s spending it.

Here’s how he dispatches the style:

“Poetic values don’t just wax and wane, they rotate and calve and invert. To read much of the New Poetry (this is the only name that makes sense to me) is to realize how undervalued quiet (different from minimalism) is right now, and how conversely attractive obliquity and hyperactivity have emerged as poetic values. But constant motion in a poem provides no resting place for emotional fullness. Surface agitation is not inauthentic, but is only effective at communicating certain kinds of sincerity—anger or anxiety. Ironically, the epidemic proliferation of the New York School voice, itself humanist in spirit, has been another contributing agent to the New Poetic whimsy. The decibels of whimsy have been turned up, the decibels of humanism down. If it is idiosyncratic and disheveled, if it is manic, strange, and verbally bright, it might, we reason, be poetry.

“Most profoundly, in their emphasis on style and subversive forms, in the enshrinement of idiosyncrasy, too few of the New Poems aspire to the most ambitious mission statement of what poetry can do—to extend the range of our experience and the reach of our imagination.”

Are there no quite poems being written by poets who like Dean Young? What about Zachary Schomburg (just as one boy example)? Does “constant” motion in a poem really preclude emotional fullness? Maybe to Hoagland. And maybe he and I have different definitions of motion and emotional fullness? Does “surface agitation” only allow anger or anxiety? What about brio? What about joy? What about horror? Ecstasy? Thrill? You know? And is "surface agitation" all that's going on? I dont' think he's right about that either.

And yes, to Hoagland, in the end, it’s the New York School voice that is at fault, and universities . . .


At 7/15/2009 10:01 AM, Blogger Leslie said...

I have an ethical problem with Tony Hoagland essay-ing all over the place about his best bud, someone he refers to as his brother--at least doing so without acknowledging the relationship. The essays I've seen pretend an academic and personal distance that does not exist. I feel like these essays lately are or should be on the Dean Young payroll, or Tony is doing the one man equivalent of the kind of campaign movie companies launch pre-academy awards. Tony: stop shilling for your pal. For one thing, he doesn't need it. For another you aren't very good at it.

2. I'm pretty tired of talking about Dean Young. His first book was terrific. It has been mostly downhill ever since. Even Dean Young is imitating Dean Young, so you can't exactly blame the boy bands for it when he himself is increasingly guilty.

3. Tony Hoagland, whatever his merits as a poet (which to my mind are about on par with his merits as an essayist), is an intellectual lightweight.

At 7/15/2009 10:47 AM, Blogger Matt said...

I'd like to know what Dean Young thinks of all this. Kinda wish he'd say something. Otherwise it makes it look like he approves of everything Hoagland is saying. Which I doubt very much. Young is ten times the writer Hoagland is.

At 7/15/2009 11:04 AM, Blogger Philip Metres said...

Stan Apps on his blog recently "pants'es" a poem by Hoagland that appeared in Poetry, so if you're feeling particularly vengeful, you can continue the bleeding. You're absolutely right about Hoagland's essays--though they occasionally have some smart insights, he loves to select out of context and demonize young experimental writers. But he does it to Ashbery too, in REAL SOFISTIKASHUN, so he's just a cranky guy about the avant-garde in general. Again, he represents a certain aesthetic, and often does it well, but....

I'm looking forward to that new SON VOLT CD, now that you've pumped it up. I first heard Jay in 1990, with NO DEPRESSION, and though the recent years I've been lukewarm, I still own everything he's done. Have you heard the GOB IRON album? That looks interesting.

At 7/15/2009 11:15 AM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Thank you for pointing out that Hoagland's world view only acknowledges male poets. Also love all of Leslie's points above.

At 7/15/2009 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's really frustrating that Hoagland apparently can't see the very poetry he derides is the poetry he and his peers had a major influence in creating. What did he expect? If he wanted something different, then he should have carried on the tradition of Lowell (who I'd imagine would have said similar things about Hoagland's poetry - although I'll qualify that by saying I have no idea, this is just based on me thinking Lowell mastered poetry in a way Hoagland never will). It's also really frustrating that he calls the voice of his own peer a true extension of the self and the voice of the younger generation an artifice. There's no way he can really know unless he's friends with everyone, and my guess is he isn't, because then he'd write some essays about how great everyone is.

The bottom line is art should be an extension of or reaction to - or even just different than - the previous modes. Otherwise, what would be the point? Poetry would all basically be the same and once you read one or two you wouldn't need to read it anymore. It's important to explore the cultural advances of the last 30 years and their effect on our psyche, which the new poetry does.

I find it depressing the way some poets of the "older generation" no longer see the value or feel the excitement of "poetry." I also find it suspect when they live in a secure academic coccoon that has little relevance in the "real world." I'm just trying to stay sharp so that in 30 years *I* don't feel the same way Hoagland does. I feel bad that his ideas about new poetry are so negative.

At 7/15/2009 12:29 PM, Blogger David said...

What do you think about Hoagland using work from his students to make his point? ie Glenn Shaheen.

At 7/15/2009 12:34 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I didn't know the extent of their relationship. Well, Hoagland is really not doing Young much of a service in this essay. Neither of them really come off all that well.


I wonder what the telephone call between them would be like. I can't imagine - if Young is wanting him to tone it down - how he could say that.


I'm really not much of a fan of Hoagland's poems . . . but I really thougth I would come off as nasty without reason to say something bad about them. They are what they are, is how I decided to skirt the thing. Young is better, in my estimation.


I can't believe no one close to Hoagland didn't tell him he couldn't make those kinds of claims about the whole style on the backs of just male writers. It destroys any shred of possibility his argument had. So what would Mary Jo Bang and Rae Armantrout have done to his idea of the direct lineage? Or older, Rosmarie Waldrop or Barbara Guest?


It IS depressing. I agree. I hope not to be in that place. Right now, I don't have access to what his motivation might be, but I'm still in my 40s. Talk to me in a decade.

I should have titled this post: "Hey you kids, get off of my lawn!"

At 7/15/2009 12:37 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I didn't know that was a student of his, though I guessed somethign of the sort when he said "Houston poet."

I think it's unethical, to be perfectly honest. But at the very least it strengthens my argument of how under-read he is, and that his anecdotal evidence of what is being written is from within a very small fishtank.

At 7/15/2009 1:50 PM, Blogger David said...

It's completely unethical. Especially if the poems came to him in the student/teacher relationship, which I'm fairly sure they did.

At 7/15/2009 2:08 PM, Blogger Penultimatina said...

I'm fascinated and repulsed by the notion that innovation (and imitation) would be gendered in this way. Barbara Guest came to mind immediately, along with a host of other women poets who are obviously read by younger writers and internalized. As one who teaches and directs the theses of male (and female) students who both embrace and shrug off the work of Dean Young, I wonder what effect, if any, this kind of criticism has on their relationship with reading.

At 7/15/2009 2:45 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Yeah, I think he just phoned this one in, and it's telling that no female writers came to mind. It's crazy to talk about what's going on in poetry, especially his version of The New Poetry, without mentioning female poets. The mode is not what he thinks it is. In fact, he's really not seeing much of the picture at all.

David, I agree with you. I don't often raise the "ethics" flag about what writers write, but this is (if what you've heard is true) certainly a case for one. He shoudl at least be talked to by the university. It's, at the very least, borish. Add that to the puf piece for a friend, and the myopic male-centered view, and he's really not doing much to enhance his reputation with this essay.

At 7/15/2009 2:46 PM, Blogger Heather June said...

Funny, I think Dean would happily admit to being influenced by the work of younger, less established poets, including his current and former students. I heard him say as much at Iowa.

I was just reviewing your earlier post about Hoagland's essay in Gulf Coast and found the following to be interesting in the context of the excerpts of his APR piece you post here. In extolling the virtues of one of Young’s poems, Hoagland says "the wonder [of it] is located not in nature but in the stylistic dexterity of artifice.” But one of the ways Hoagland characterizes the DY wannabes in the APR piece excerpt (and one of the ways he seems to be differentiating them from DY) is that their sense of voice is “not so much an organic extension of self, but more an artifice, a fabrication of vocabularies and rhetorics.” Huh. What’s the difference? Must be that mysterious quality that apparently only DY has: “the intrinsic strength of arising from a unified psyche.”

Though I find aspects of them frustrating, I do appreciate the thoughtful refutations and commentary Hoagland’s bold-generalizations-on-the-poetry-of-today provoke. For example, his essay “Fear of Narrative and the Skittery Poem of Our Moment” ( pissed a lot of people off, but resulted in some illuminating and invigorating conversations...

At 7/15/2009 2:54 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Oh he does like to stir the pot, doesn't he?

Reminds me of the old Sci-fi series, "Babylon 5," where there were two ancient races, the Vorlons and something else which escapes my mind. One, the Vorlons I think, thought to shepherd the younger species toward enlightnment, and the other, to bring them there by strife. One was light and the other darkness. Both, of course, were pretentious.

A lot comes out of strife. We "hone" our arguments. So I guess we could thank him . . . but must he keep getting these huge platforms? What about people who have actual helpful things to say?

At 7/15/2009 3:47 PM, Blogger Justin Evans said...

I don't know much about Tony Hoagland or Dean Young, but I do love kittens.

Sorry John, I couldn't refuse.

At 7/15/2009 4:16 PM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

Funny thing #1: The conflation of "ellipticism" with the "Dean Young orbit" younger poets, when there's not really too much overlap in that Venn diagram. It's like saying Jorie Graham and Dean Young write basically the same poetry.

Funny thing #2: That there's a lot more overlap between the "Dean Young orbit" poets and the next-generation ultratalk heavily influenced by poets like Mark Halliday, Barbara Hamby, and (oops!) Tony Hoagland.

Seriously, does he not realize how ironic it is for him to bash the next generation of New-York-school-loving poetry?

Does his article mention any of these younger poets by name besides Yakich? I don't see any in the excerpts.

At 7/15/2009 5:16 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Because kitten are awesome, that's why.


Yeah, I was thinking the same thing about the lineage of Hoagland / Young - Halliday, etc., which is why I was so sceptical of his anecdotal evidence of this huge groundswell of the New Poetry poets.

He does mention a couple other poets, but they are - I think - very young. Apparently one of them is a grad student of his? It seemed unfair to bring them into it, as I thought it was unfair of Hoagland to bring them into it. No one should do something like that in a publication like APR to a young writer who's not yet published a book. I didn't google them, so I reserve the right to be wrong.

(Glenn Shaheen [called a Houston poet], Michael Loughran, & Jeff Baker are their names)

At 7/15/2009 9:23 PM, Blogger Ross Brighton said...

What I can't get over (aside from the france thing) is the statement "the essentially heroic mission of Surrealism proper." .... dear god, does this guy know anything about the history and philosophy of 20th C European Art?

I could continue, but I'd rather save my energy for other things.

At 7/16/2009 1:06 AM, Anonymous Chris said...

Heather writes:

"In extolling the virtues of one of Young’s poems, Hoagland says "the wonder [of it] is located not in nature but in the stylistic dexterity of artifice.” But one of the ways Hoagland characterizes the DY wannabes in the APR piece excerpt (and one of the ways he seems to be differentiating them from DY) is that their sense of voice is “not so much an organic extension of self, but more an artifice, a fabrication of vocabularies and rhetorics.” Huh. What’s the difference? Must be that mysterious quality that apparently only DY has: “the intrinsic strength of arising from a unified psyche.”

Personally, I don't see any real contradiction here and I suspect your sarcastic retort actually gets close to the heart of the matter (whether one agrees with him or not): that controlled, intentional artifice is a different thing than artifice that is unintentional and not used to any particular purpose.

I'm ambivalent. I'll cop to liking many of Hoagland's poems. He writes a particular kind of poem rather well (and Stan Apps "pantsing" is hardly more than a great illustration that aesthetics indeed exist in personal worlds... there just as much, and as little, "there there" as there is in many of the post-avants similarly styled criticism of James Wright. I get it, they don't like it, it's ok).

I'm simply not sure if blanket questioning is any worse than the too-common blanket fawning about this group-- and make no mistake, there is a group.

Seriously, what are the odds that this whole group of authors, young or not, are really as good as all those who rear their heads at the slightest criticism appear to want us to believe? Unlikely. But in any case, almost irrelevant since this discussion, like pretty much all of them, has essentially no specifics about any poems. Great for arguing endlessly, but for opening anyone's eyes one way or another? Not so much.

At 7/16/2009 4:39 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I found his understanding of Surrealism telling.


Thanks for leaving a note. This is why I was wanting not to mention Hoagland's poems, so that they wouldn't cloud the issue.

Hoagland does talk about some poems in his APR piece, in much the way that he does in his other essays. It's frustrating to me when I read an essay that doesn't have examples, but it's also frustrating when Hoagland uses examples from very young, unknown poets. If he's wanting to say somethign large about a large group, he should use the most well-know examples he can find. Or at least add a little list of names of who he's talking about, rather than just the general Cult of Dean Young sort of thing.

You point, though, is taken. Not all poets writing in any mode are doing it well. If I were wanting to write an essay against him, I would certainly want to write about specific things I see of value in specific poems and poets. But since I'm mostly wanting to call attention to the (what I consider) wrongheaded nature of his general claims (and omissions), I felt no need to add my little list of poets who write well. For one thing, I wouldn't know if those were the poets he is talking about anyway, for instance, if I said the new books by Mark Bibbins, Sarah Vap, and Zachary Schomburg are excellent and do well with voice and tone and fragment, one could write back and say that I'm missing the point of what Hoagland was talking about, that these poets aren't part of that cult. If one is going to say there's a cult, one ows it to the art to show the roster, otherwise the whole thing just falls apart, as I think his essay does.

At 7/16/2009 5:03 AM, Blogger Ross Brighton said...

It all comes down to the same thing, I think, as I'm adressing in an essay that will (all things being equal) be published early next year - sure, there are some people out there writing crap poetry. Who cares? there always have been, and always will be. There are also people out there writing amazing stuff, and a whole lot of them. Why concentrate on the negative? the negativity is especially worrying coming from a self-described poet-teacher, raggin on very young poets who are at an early stage in their careers. TS Eliot and Ezra Pound's v. early work is atrocious. Wouldn't it be far more productive to expouond the virtues of those who are writing excellent work? I could name a large number of poets who have only published chapbooks or single volumes, whose work is really fantastic.

And Chris - when you say "nd make no mistake, there is a group", I'm not sure what the implication is. What do you mean by group? What worries me about (and I assume this is what you're talking about) people's comment's like this on "post-avantism" is the implication that stylistic-aesthetic-philosophical similarities (and there are a number of differences, sometimes more than similarities) are markers of some vast clique or conspiracy. this doesn't follow, and is not true. It's just people writing poetry which is somewhat similar is some ways.

At 7/16/2009 5:15 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


Email me and let me know where/ when this essay is coming out. I'd like to read it.

I don't want to put words into Chris's mouth, but his comment reminded me of comments I've gotten before that go something like this:

"I'm a smart reader and I just dont' really get what these people are upto, therefore, they're not serious. They are trying not to "communicate." They have nothing to say. They are cynical and are in league with each other to publish each other and congratulate themselves on putting one over on the rest of us."

That's kind of the cartoon version of how it goes, granted, but it hits the main points I think? (And I have no idea if Chris, above, is part of that group. His comment [oh, there's a group!] just reminded me of it.)

At 7/16/2009 5:26 AM, Blogger Ross Brighton said...

The essay *should* be in the February issue of Poetry NZ - which I'm pretty sure is simultaneously published in New Zealand and the US (it used to be, I know that). It's a reply to an earlier piece they published ragging on the state of US poetry - you know the arguement - there's heaps of shit, too much is being published, yada yada yada. I though someone should write about the good stuff thats being printed instead.

At 7/16/2009 6:07 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, as you know, being positive isn't as exciting as being negative . . .

At 7/16/2009 6:26 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Seth Abramson has his take on Hoagland's essay here

At 7/16/2009 8:09 AM, Blogger Heather June said...

"Chris writes:

Personally, I don't see any real contradiction here and I suspect your sarcastic retort actually gets close to the heart of the matter (whether one agrees with him or not): that controlled, intentional artifice is a different thing than artifice that is unintentional and not used to any particular purpose."

Hi Chris,

My retort wasn't intended to be sarcastic, actually. I point out the similarities in the way Hoagland describes Dean Young's sense of voice (which he lauds) and that of his imitators (which dismisses) because I find the lack of clear and useful differentiation telling. From what I gather, Hoagland isn’t saying that the way these young poets use artifice in voice is unintentional or without purpose. In fact, he says that all of these poets, DY included, employ voice as artifice—and that neither DY or his so-called imitators draw on an “organic extension of the self.” In short, the observation seems to be that though they use voice/artifice with similar intentions and to somewhat similar effect, the _real_ difference here between the imitators and DY is that these other poets simply are not Dean Young. However true that may be, that observation doesn’t strike me as particularly useful, let alone worthy of in-depth critical examination.

At 7/20/2009 9:27 AM, Anonymous Hollyridge Press said...

Some of you say you're not familiar with Hoagland's work. His new chapbook, Little Oceans, is just out.

At 7/20/2009 11:20 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Thank you for the link. It's always helpful to see what people are doing, outside of the things they say about poetry.

At 7/20/2009 4:13 PM, Blogger Ross Brighton said...

Though I have to say I'm not too fussed on the Poem in Poetry, and consider Stan's "pantsing" of it warranted.

At 7/21/2009 7:01 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Not to defend Hoagland's poetry in general, but I will say that to poke it for his speaker calling himself a dog barking, well, a lot of poetry I like quite a bit does such things. That said, I'll not be suggesting people read it.

At 7/26/2009 10:23 PM, Anonymous poetrysam69 said...

John Gallagher:

I just stumbled on this article. Great stuff.

I found your Babylon 5 analogy (in the comments) especially compelling and apt to the kind of fruitful conflict the Hoagland article (and this one?) embodies and engenders. But I think that a better analogy might be found in Dragon Ball Z episode 15 (American episode 10) wherein Piccolo splits himself in half during his training to reach his full potential--both sides fighting to achieve some common goal.

Of course, this binary creative/destructive impulse also has obvious connections to the fracturing of New York School poetics into its various currents in contemporary poetry--unlike, say, the more homogeneous Anglo-Irish tradition, which derives its strength primarily from its tendency to retread older forms, emotions, etc. in a contemporary idiom (Goku, anyone?--the connection is obvious).

Only time will tell which method will create the most effective mode of expressing the trials of our contemporary world. But perhaps, if history is any indicator, our Piccolo, despite all odds, and in the face of an adversary who was yesterday's champion (of poetry; The World Martial Arts Tournament), can still be the great victor we, as poets, must hope for!

At 7/27/2009 11:58 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

The divided-self episode! You know, I think there's an aspect of that working when Hoagland rails against the skittery poets of our time thing, especially when putting them next to some of his own tendencies.

At 7/27/2009 2:16 PM, Anonymous Newt Brentland said...

Between all the name dropping, shit talking, whining and sniveling, it's a wonder you "creative writers" have the time to creatively write anything at all.

Admit it--what all you babies have an "ethical problem" with is the fact that someone else is getting (slightly) more attention than the rest of you--fair enough, since 99.99% of MFA educated American poets and fiction writers seem to be churning out the same derivative, self-indulgent, navel-gazing crap. But now what's-his-name (Tammy Hoag?) the would-be future Pulitzer winner is ethically suspect and a sexist to boot? Listen to yourselves.

Get your heads out of your asses, go to the beach, and take along any book that wasn't written by some douchebag you went to school with. You might be surprised how pleasant it is to be briefly distracted from the pettiness and gnawing envy that otherwise fill your pathetic lives.

At 7/27/2009 2:19 PM, Anonymous Newt Brentland said...

Sorry--Tammy Hoag and his friend the would-be Pulitzer prize winner. I think I must have dozed off in the middle of the post.

At 7/27/2009 2:40 PM, Anonymous poetrysam69 said...

Hey JG,

Absolutely right! I was thinking about this a little bit last night while watching Spike TV's Star Wars marathon. I can't help but think of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader when I consider the Young/Hoagland agenda for American poetry. It's even more compelling when you consider the Emperor's motives for promoting Darth Vader--total control of the Galaxy! Do you think, perhaps, Hoagland's motives might be even more insidious than you are letting on in this blog post?

In any case, there is certainly something rotten in the state of poetry, lol!!! (Hamlet 36)

At 7/27/2009 2:42 PM, Anonymous poetrysam69 said...

BTW--Don't let this Newt Brentland guy get to you--DONT FEED THE TROLLS! lol

At 7/27/2009 3:15 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Newt, you forgot to add "hob knockers."

Sam 69:

May the force be with you.

At 2/25/2010 8:59 PM, Blogger Falling Alice said...

I know I am way late to this discussion, but I just looked at my old copy of APR, came across the Hoagland article and thought I would see what the blogosphere was saying about it...I am sure that most of you have seen this, but I also came across Dean Young's response to the article. I have copied it below in case any of you missed it.

Dear Editors,

After years of being a defect, it is a pleasant surprise to be upgraded to an effect in Tony Hoagland’s characteristically insightful and cogently hectoring essay (“The Dean Young Effect,” July/August 2009). Equally flattering is to be blamed for so much that he perceives as being wrong with contemporary poetry as particularly evidenced in a group of younger writers, who I am sure are deeply influenced by my work regardless if they have read it or not. Before I quaff the proffered drams of hemlock for my corrupting crimes (apparently to the chagrin of my poor comrades doing the reading for admission into creative writing programs across our fair land), I wish to humbly suggest a flaw in Mr. Hoagland’s essay, a flaw shared by much writing about contemporary poetry. It is a lack of, to use T.S. Eliot’s phrase, historical sense, to acknowledge that poetry has been around a long time before Apollinaire. Far beyond my misguiding of younger poets, I feel as a matter of pride that I must point out the awful effect my work has had on poetry in general. Surely I am as least in part to blame for John Donne’s willful obscurities and distortions; and what about those stylistic fripperies of Gerard Manley Hopkins? Not to mention the obviously inflated self-mythologizing of Whitman, and, even, the smarmy ironies of Chaucer. The list, as any delicate reader knows, goes on and on.

Dean Young

At 4/05/2010 9:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i notice that everyone is 'upset'
about someone saying some things about someone else
the upset ones
are saying things about the first someone and the second someone
who also have a 'beef'



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