Friday, September 03, 2010

In which Tony Hoagland applauds Lyn Hejinian’s Poetry

From this distance, you can't tell where the paint was re-touched.

In the “A for Effort” category, we have Tony Hoagland’s interesting and problematic model:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/article.html?id=239968

For Hoagland to achieve the sort of largesse he’s attempting as an observer of contemporary poetry, he has to figure out how to talk about that type of poetry that he’s both drawn to and repulsed by, and he’s been trying to write his way into it for quite awhile now.

Here’s the frame:

+++

…one by Wordsworth, one by Stevens:

type a: Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility.

type b: The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully.

These two assertions, though not opposed, place distinctly different emphases on the function of poetry. The first description, Wordsworth’s, suggests that poetry is a means of gaining perspective on primary experience: powerful emotions can be gathered, then dynamically relived, translated, and digested in the controlled laboratory of the poem—by proxy, such a poem also constructs perspective for the reader.

In contrast, Stevens’s description implies that the poem and the reader engage in a sort of muscular struggle with each other—that struggle is how they become intimate, how they really “know” each other. Stevens suggests that a good poem, as part of its process, resists, twists, and enmeshes the reader (and perhaps the poet as well), an engagement in which perspective is challenged, and by no means guaranteed.

+++

I don’t want to trouble the waters too much at the onset, but I have to mention that there’s a problem with using the Stevens in this way, as Stevens’s assertion here doesn’t necessarily have to do with the reader at all. “The intelligence” can have as much to do with the writer, on the one hand, and, on the other, the intelligence is not the totality of the reader, which is: The reader is not being resisted, just the intelligence. I think that’s an important distinction. It’s not the writer vs the reader here, but the imagination vs the intelligence.

And, thinking a little further, as he's saying this Type A poetry takes "recollected in tranquility" as its entry point, is Hoagland getting close to theorizing Ron Silliman's "Quietude"? 

But, after that, I’m fascinated by Hoagland’s journey and I applaud his tenacity. But what do we have to say about this essay, though? Is he spot on, or does he miss the mark. Hoagland observes:

+++

What do we, as readers, want from a poem? On the one hand, plenty of poetry readers are alive and well who want to experience a kind of clarification; to feel and see deeply into the world that they inhabit, to make or read poetry that “helps you to live,” that characterizes and clarifies human nature. To scoff at this motivation for poetry because it is “unsophisticated” or because it seems sentimental—well, you might as well scoff at oxygen.

Similarly, to dismiss the poetry of “dis-arrangement,” the poetry that aims to disrupt or rearrange consciousness—to dismiss poems that attract (and abstract) by their resistance, thus drawing the reader into a condition of not-entirely-understanding—such a dismissal also seems to foreclose some powerful dimensions of poetry as an alternate language, a language expressive of certain things otherwise unreachable. Perhaps language as a study of itself has ends which are otherwise unforeseeable.

In our time, this bifurcation of motives among poets has become so pronounced as to be tribal. The polarization in premises has been further enhanced by a whole generation of poets who have been intellectually initiated into critical perspectives on language and meaning which render all forms of “recognition art” suspect, problematical—or, even worse, boring. Because the fit between the human mind, the actual world, and language is imperfect, is fraught with distortion, to manifest those distortions in poems has come to constitute a subject matter, even an idiomatic universe of its own, accompanied by a host of lyrical conventions and manners.

The poetry of perspective is well known in its essentials—it is an integral part of the history of rational humanism. This essay will focus on the relatively more recent poetry of “resistance,” the poetry of derangement, and try to exemplify some of the contemporary options.

+++

He has a couple points, and is supposing we all are fine and agree with point number one, that “On the one hand, plenty of poetry readers are alive and well who want to experience a kind of clarification; to feel and see deeply into the world that they inhabit, to make or read poetry that “helps you to live,” that characterizes and clarifies human nature. To scoff at this motivation for poetry because it is “unsophisticated” or because it seems sentimental—well, you might as well scoff at oxygen.”

True, one should not scoff, but I imagine one could feel that there is a large strand of this type of poetry that is reductive of the human condition, and that it should be resisted as a sort of secular propaganda, as it gives false color to being in the world, which actually hinders our full living in the world rather than helping it. So, for me, I’d like to see some sort of explanation of how these poems “clarify” when one could just as readily see the tendency to more often glaze over, and how they “see deeply” when one could see them instead do a sort of pop psychology dance with family and history that is anything but deep. But, in general, I will take his point. This is the popular strand of poetry, one that we are to take for granted and not theorize or need to explain. The other tendency, though, needs some explaining.

One more lock ought to do it.

And from that second strand, he sees a period style emerge:

+++

One might extrapolate from these several examples [George Oppen, John Ashbery, Karen Volkman, Lewis Warsh, Ben Lerner, Rusty Morrison, C.D. Wright, Jorie Graham, D.A. Powell, James Tate, Lyn Hejinian] the features of a period style. Here are the characteristics I observe:

1. A heavy reliance on authoritative declaration.

2. A love of the fragmentary, the interrupted, the choppy rhythm.

3. An overall preference for the conceptual over the corporeal, the sensual, the emotional, the narrative, or the discursive.

4. A talent for aphorism.

5. Asides which articulate the poem’s own aesthetic procedures, premises, and ideas.

Surely I am over-generalizing and omitting some things. But it is curious how much contemporary poetry bears some combination of these stylistic features, even when the poets are concerned with quite different possibilities of poetry.

+++

I’m changing my mind about the idea of a “period style,” the more I think about it. I was, recently, arguing against this sort of characterization, as this characterization (as he’s attempting it) is of a decidedly small number of poems being written (as one can extrapolate from the examples). My thinking was that the period style is what is most common in the period, and what is most common in this period is much more like the poetry of Reginald Gibbons than it is the poetry of Rusty Morrison. But the more I think of the period styles of previous decades and generations, the more I’m being reminded that any period style is a decidedly minority style that lingers long after the more common types of poems from that time are forgotten. Modernism is a good example.

So Hoagland is right, I think, in saying that our period style is going to be defined by the future as something other than what is most common in the poetry being written, but the jury is still out on if it’s going to be on the sort of poetry he’s using as examples here.

Don’t get me wrong, I hope he’s right, because the sort of poetry he’s talking about here is just the sort of poetry I tend to like, and I’d like to think that what I like is what is going to be the period style. Still, though, the examples bear little resemblance to the poetry of Reginald Gibbons (where Reginald Gibbons stands as a place holder for any number of poets from Rita Dove to whomever), and, looking at the awards for poetry handed out in most years, they are going to poetry that is decidedly NOT what Hoagland is describing (to take his examples as, well, examples). So is there always to be this disconnect between that which is called the period style and that which wins the poetry awards in the period? Probably. As one could posit there isn't ONE period style, but many. Or at least TWO.

Or, to look at what he writes above as a description of the [one] period style without the example poems to clutter the issue (or to focus our attention), maybe he’s simply being too general (as he tries to cicumvent by acknowledging)? I mean, if a description could be said to encompass the work of both Dean Young and Lyn Hejinian (or Kay Ryan and John Ashbery), is it much of a description? Or maybe that’s the point, to use examples from a very narrow slice of the poetry pie, but to take from it a description general enough to describe, say, two-thirds of that pie. But then, to trouble it further, one could say that the above description also describes the work of Wallace Stevens and Gertrude Stein. And there is where the problem lies. He’s less describing the current style (or a current style) than he is describing poetry from the early 20th Century on (I think he might even agree with this, as he uses Wallace Stevens as omen). I could, if I felt inclined, make Robert Frost’s poetry fit this description (“The Road Not Taken” is a wonderful example of how declaration and disjunction work in a way to trouble both form and argument). So is he describing a period style?

He asks: “Is this assertiveness of quantity and momentum a kind of correction for the general helplessness of our circumstances? Is it reflective of a new aesthetics of “confrontation,” which strives to overwhelm with velocity and facility? One question we can usefully ask in regard to a particular style or poem is, What is the range of feeling or sensibility in this poetry? Is it narrow or broad? Is it merely whimsical, merely disjunct, merely antagonistic, or can it also be friendly, entertaining, deep, and spacious?”

It can in Tate and Hejinian, he asserts, just as it’s largely absent in Ashbery (where I think he’s misreading Ashbery, but in a way that others do as well), but is there any further answer to his line of questioning?

I’m glad, especially, that he’s praising Hejinian, as she’s not someone often praised by, for want of a better phrase, mainstream critics. The fact that she’s being used as an example does seem to nod that a sea change is happening, or has happened. It’s the sort of sea change that several wondered about recently, as major awards went to Rae Armantrout, Mary Jo Bang, and Keith Waldrop. And I think, in the above description and questions, Hoagland’s attempting to understand why and how these poets who so recently seemed off limits can now be given major awards in poetry with barely a ripple in the time-space continuum. The way to talk about them is to say either they’re more like “regular” poems in their content, even as their formal structures diverge, and also, our “regular” poems are more like theirs than we thought, as the period style of declaration and fragment describes us all.

This kind of pointing toward the fact that she has real human content in her work, and Hoagland's "post-tribalism" gesture, acts as if that had been in question. Well, I guess it has been in question (that was the first argument against this sort of poetry back in the 80s-90s), as it remains so for poets like Ashbery, who will always trouble the sort of large apparatus that Hoagland is attempting. So the conversation he’s participating in is an interesting one, and I mostly applaud his bookshelf choices, but I think it’s a creaky house of cards. On the other hand, he’s attempting to popularize several poets whose work I like, so in that way, I say more power to him.

It's just like looking in a mirror!

18 Comments:

At 9/03/2010 8:55 AM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Yeah, I don't read the Stevens quote that way at all. That seems almost a willful misreading. If he were talking about the reader, he would have said "One must resist the stupidity."

JUST KIDDING.

Seriously, though, I always read "intelligence" here as something like "coherence, the rational." And his poems show great tension between the intellect and the imagination.

 
At 9/03/2010 9:13 AM, Blogger Paul Otremba said...

Great post, John. It elicited a response that was too long for one comment, so I am going to try to break it up into three.

1. I think Hoagland’s essay is the most generous I’ve seen him be, and regardless of the strength of his argument, the essay has proven to be more useful than most of his because its lack of defensive polemic has left room for serious discussion, which is evidenced by your thoughtful post here. I was encouraged by his attention to the poems in most cases, trying to understand them on their own terms. I think there still are generational anxieties and prejudices he possesses (all the poets who fail to achieve his highest regard are younger poets, just like in his Dean Young piece in APR), and there is the reductiveness of his identified “tribes.” Yet, he has gestured towards a possibility for further dialogue.

 
At 9/03/2010 9:14 AM, Blogger Paul Otremba said...

2. I, too, found it a bit troubling that a real human content to Hejinian’s work could have been considered suspect, but I do think it is good to reevaluate the exigencies behind certain compositional strategies, which Hoagland invites us to do here. It’s an argument (one that I may be reading into the Hoagland essay) against complacency, which would merely reproduce the aesthetic innovations of Hejinian as platitudes rather than historical necessities. Just yesterday, I was rereading “The Rejection of Closure” and her reflections on it in Jacket from July 2001, and when I reread her opening complaint against a generically defined spawn of the Greater Romantic lyric, which she calls a “coercive, epiphanic mode in some contemporary lyric poetry [that serves] as a negative model, with its smug pretension to uni­versality and its tendency to cast the poet as guardian to Truth,” I wondered if this characterization still holds. Given what we now take for granted about the instability of language, epistemology, and positionality, I wondered if even in the mode of the meditative lyric we could even have universalizing, big “T” truth, and a notion of self divorced from the contingencies of context.

 
At 9/03/2010 9:15 AM, Blogger Paul Otremba said...

3. When William Carlos Williams questioned whether writing a pentameter line was immoral and considered the sonnet form “fascistic” in the middle of the twentieth century, that made sense. When Hejinian questioned the kind of poem mentioned above in 1983, it made sense. I think you are alluding to the kind of poem she identifies when you say there is a “large strand of this type of poetry that is reductive of the human condition, and that it should be resisted as a sort of secular propaganda, as it gives false color to being in the world, which actually hinders our full living in the world rather than helping it.” Perhaps what Hoagland’s essay invites us to consider is whether it still makes sense to associate certain compositional strategies (identifiable speaker, localized and particularized setting, some claim to understanding or insight or perspective, a relatively stable and connected grammar, syntax, and development) to those negative and harmful qualities you identify, qualities I would never want to encourage. Even if the answer is yes, they still are ethically and intellectually suspect, the consideration might reinvigorate the exigencies behind the innovations.

 
At 9/05/2010 7:55 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Paul

You write:

“when I reread her opening complaint against a generically defined spawn of the Greater Romantic lyric, which she calls a ‘coercive, epiphanic mode in some contemporary lyric poetry [that serves] as a negative model, with its smug pretension to uni­versality and its tendency to cast the poet as guardian to Truth,’ I wondered if this characterization still holds.”

I reply:

This has caused me to sit and stare at my bookshelf this weekend. I’m flummoxed as to how to answer. Maybe it has something to do that I grew into writing poetry in the late 80s, when this WAS the battle, and Hejinian’s argument held a lot of power for me, as it confirmed the way I felt toward a lot of the poetry I was reading in anthologies and “how to write poetry” books. All the Tess Gallaghers and Henry Taylors . . . it all felt so, sentimentally coercive, I guess.

And I’ve lived with the traces of that feeling for twenty years. Maybe, as the times have changed, and that mode has grown old and morphed, it’s become less a voice-over narrative, and more a participant in what it’s enacting. Could it be that, as you say, there might be doubt that “it still makes sense to associate certain compositional strategies (identifiable speaker, localized and particularized setting, some claim to understanding or insight or perspective, a relatively stable and connected grammar, syntax, and development) to those negative and harmful qualities”? I want to say those ways are just as suspect as they ever were . . . but could that just be tapes playing in my head from when they undoubtedly were?

In general, it feels wrong to me to dismiss a whole style, as that’s out of hand, you know? Maybe it’s just that back then I would have dismissed 90% of its emblematic poems as “reductive to the human condition,” and now I feel more like dismissing a lesser number of them?

I’m wondering what Hejinian would say to your question. Or Ron Silliman.

 
At 9/05/2010 9:29 PM, Blogger Steven D. Schroeder said...

The Stevens quote to me seems like a basic thing that is true for poetry of all stripes--that its sum shouldn't be right there on the page the first time you read it, that it shouldn't be simply paraphrasable, etc. Surely even the most conservative poets find that in whomever their favorites are. As you point out, it's quite apt to the best poems of conservative modernist
Frost (a poet I like quite a lot, lest my tag of him seem dismissive). I mean, isn't that ultimately the argument that the pro/anti Billy Collins or Ted Kooser forces are having about them: is all they offer right there on the page, or do they resist? I think the Stevens statement, taken on its own rather than in any context, is much more apt to ALL poetry than the Wordsworth. I'm also interested in the difference in phrasing between Wordsworth's "is" and Stevens' "must."

 
At 9/06/2010 8:36 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

Very lengthy, well-written post. Not sure if I can comment on the whole of Hoagland's article as I'm still processing some of it.

Regarding the poems that are "reductive to the human experience", I think one can reject them and still breathe. These poems, the ones that "help people live" are harmful because they offer easy solutions. It feels like shopping. One goes out, finds something fashionable and feels good about themselves until that particular style is no longer "in."

Let me elaborate. Reading and writing, at least for me, is an act of discovery. If I don't put down a book or my pen and feel like I've stumbled upon something new, then it is a failure. Even if what is found is not quite clear, the mystery and intrigue encourage further contemplation, which is good for finding new ideas/perspectives. The problem with the types of poems mentioned above, is that they tend to reinforce what people already know. What's that Ashbery quote? "A poem that communicates something that's already known to a reader is not really communicating anything to him, and in fact shows a lack of respect."

 
At 9/09/2010 3:52 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

The oversight made by Mr. Ashbery in his comment, quoted above, is the same one he makes in his poetry. He said:

"A poem that communicates something that's already known to a reader is not really communicating anything to him, and in fact shows a lack of respect."

Unfortunately, that “already known” is not the same as that which is understood. In my view, failing to enable others to truly understand is exactly why poetry today “…shows a lack of respect.”. It is also why popular poetry is now deceased.

Do you understand this, Mr. Ashbery? Did you set out to be a genuine poet or was it just easier to be another Carny? Flim, flam. Smoke and mirrors.

 
At 9/09/2010 7:57 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

What exactly do you mean by understood? I'm not trying to generalize, but I find most people that dismiss Ashbery's poetry on this basis really mean it can't be reduced. No Ashbery poem can be explained in a paraphrase. The same is true for poets like Lyn Hejinian, Pierre Reverdy, and Wallace Stevens.

I also find the notion that anyone can "truly understand" a poem problematic. Does this suppose there is only one meaning? What if you and I disagree about the meaning of a particular poem? How do we decide who is right?

I don't think you can pin the decline of readership in poetry on obscurtanism for a few reasons. There are plenty of poets writing in a very straight-forward, "understandable" (for lack of a better word) manner. In fact, I think this is still the norm. Look at our poet Laureates for the last ten years, or the names that show up in Poetry magazine. I wouldn't exactly say these poets represent the tradition, if it can be called that, that Ashbery is writing out of. I would also argue that modern technology and advertising have more to do with this decline than anything else. If you gave a teenager the option of reading a poem or playing a video game, which do you think they would choose?

Lastly, I have no desire to convince you or anyone else of the merits of Ashbery's poetry. However, to dismiss it as smoke and mirrors seems a little short-sighted. Regardless if you like his poetry, he has demonstrated that he is a capable writer of both formal and free verse.

 
At 9/10/2010 7:24 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'm posting this for Gary B Fitzgerald:

Dear Mr. Junk:

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist that one.) :-)

I found your comment above very thoughtful and intelligent. In fact, I spent a fair amount of time writing a response to it. Then it occurred me… there is nothing more elegant I could say about John Ashbery than this from Anis Shivani in the Huffington Post last month:


“John Ashbery (Self-Portrait in a Broken Mirror)

Exemplary Lines: "The sheiks protest use of / aims. In the past / coal has protected their / O long, watchful hour. / the engines had been humming / stones of March in the gray woods / still, the rods, could not they take long / More anthems until dust / flocks disguised machine."

More responsible than anyone else for turning late twentieth-century American poetry into a hermetic, self-enclosed, utterly private affair. Displays sophomoric lust to encode postmodern alienation into form that embodies the supposed chaos of the mind. Though he has somehow acquired a reputation for the visionary (especially among the Brits, who think he's the greatest American poet), John Berryman's Dream Songs are infinitely more on the mark. Another amateur philosopher, like Jorie Graham, another acolyte of what he thinks is Wittgensteinian logic. Ran away with postmodern irony, eccentricized it to the point of meaninglessness. Now we have no working definition of irony anymore--thanks, John Ashbery! Mixes low and high levels of language, low and high culture, every available postmodern artifact and text, from media jargon to comic books, to recreate a reality ordered only by language itself. When reality=language (as his carping cousins, the language poets, have it, just like him), politics becomes vacuous, and any usurper can and will step in. Has been a Mannerist after his own outdated manner at least since Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Among the writers listed here, I want to like him the most--it's too bad he's been a parody of himself for so long.”



Fuzz, you said:

“I don't think you can pin the decline of readership in poetry on obscurtanism for a few reasons. There are plenty of poets writing in a very straight-forward, "understandable" (for lack of a better word) manner. In fact, I think this is still the norm. Look at our poet Laureates for the last ten years, or the names that show up in Poetry magazine.”

First, you should renew your subscription to Poetry magazine. ‘Obscure’ is all the rage these days.

I also don’t define ‘understandable’ here the way you do. A poem should, must, have depth and multiple interpretations. It is poetry, after all. What I intended is what a poem should (thus fulfilling its true and original purpose) be trying to say about the deeper reality around us. Clever, but shallow, poems about writing, language, words, poetry itself, defeat the very purpose of poetry. Why not just go and do a crossword puzzle or read some good fiction?

In fact, you confirmed my very point in your earlier comment:

“Let me elaborate. Reading and writing, at least for me, is an act of discovery. If I don't put down a book or my pen and feel like I've stumbled upon something new, then it is a failure. Even if what is found is not quite clear, the mystery and intrigue encourage further contemplation,…”

I suppose you could say that I am of the ‘Philosophical/Ontological’ school of poetry. You could even call me old-fashioned, but I believe that poetry should open minds in an entertaining way, not entertain in a mindless way.


-Gary B Fitzgerald

 
At 9/11/2010 5:13 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

All the poets that I admire have detractors, and that’s the way it’s always been in the arts (all artists have detractors). I have yet to see the universally acclaimed poet. Still, the specific charge of “Flim, flam” and “Smoke and mirrors” is a meaningless one to me in regards the poetry of John Ashbery. I really have no response to the charge other than that Ashbery’s poems are constructed out of words, and when I read them I see the human condition investigated in an unfolding and pleasing way, specifically that way that people have of trying to tell each other things, the method itself of meaning-making and meaning-transfer. Perhaps all communication is flim & flam. Perhaps all meanings are smoke & mirrors. Anyway, I see that, and I also enjoy the ride itself. Others don’t see it. I’ve been having this type of disagreement for something like 20 years now.

 
At 9/11/2010 4:30 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Well put, Mr. Gallaher. A definite score for you. So you leave me no choice…I must challenge you to a contest.

First, go select your very favorite poem by Mr. Ashbery. Any one at all. Make ten copies of it. Then make ten copies each of ‘The Tyger’ by Blake and ‘Do not go Gentle...’ by Thomas. Give a copy of each of these poems to each of ten people. Ordinary people, that is… no one associated with literary or educational pursuits. Literate people, of course, but maybe working down at the Walmart or the Hardware store or your favorite restaurant.

Ask them to put a big anonymous X on their favorite and return it to you.

Then, take the results of your poll plus ten more copies of each of these three poems and put them in a time capsule. In your Last Will and Testament instruct your descendants not to open it for 100 years. When they do open it, however, they will have to take the exact same survey with the same three poems and compare them to your survey.

Then we’ll see.

I’m pretty sure I’m going to win this one, though, because:

A) Tigers will still be relevant.

B) Fathers will still be relevant.

C) Miscellaneous contemporary zeitgeist trivia from the 20th Century . . . probably not.

GBF

.

 
At 9/11/2010 4:33 PM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Few poems are really timeless. Language changes. Culture changes. Tigers do not feel particularly relevant to me.

 
At 9/11/2010 6:02 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Who knows, in the future they might spell "tiger" as "tyger."

But, other than that, I don't think defending Ashbery against charges of smoke & flam is the same as saying his poems are greater than any poems in the big Western Canon. He can exist on his own merits alongside the rest, and then, in the long view, say something like five billion years, no poems will matter. Actually, nothing in the solar system will matter.

 
At 9/12/2010 11:37 AM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Elisa Gabbert said...

“Tigers do not feel particularly relevant to me.”

Shame on you! Tigers, and cats in general, in my opinion, are one of God’s/Nature’s (your choice) finest creations. More to the point, though, is that Blake’s poem foreshadows Rilke’s “terrible beauty”. It addresses the basic existential question about the beauty and inspiration we find in the wild and its violence vs. the supposedly loving compassion of God’s plan.

John: It’s not fair to invoke the supernova argument. That renders anything we could ever possibly discuss irrelevant. If the solar system is ultimately doomed then nothing is really important, is it. Why care about anything?

Here’s my take on the matter:


.
Bewildered

How reconcile this paradox,
this Creator who loves creation,
with the brutality and blood
that makes it turn,
the endless flow of life,
forms granted their existence
by the eating of each other,
the bewildered, starving young
still awaiting their dead mother?

How resolve this lack of compassion,
this cruelly designed summation
by the One who loves us all,
those lost to fire and fang and flood
or blown from nests in storms?

We will reason, for we are human,
and create our fine Religions
which our reason then deforms.


Copyright 2010 – Ponds and Lawns-New and Corrected Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

 
At 9/12/2010 1:16 PM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Well, I'm allergic to cats. But "more to the point," I think "basic existential questions" can be addressed in poems "about" almost anything, be it tigers or Tetris.

 
At 9/12/2010 7:02 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

It might not have been fair, but it was super! I thought it was in keeping with your suddenly thinking that an argument for Ashbery's value was somehow the same as saying his poems were better than those of any other poet who ever lived. That wasn't the argument. The argument was that his work has value, which really, 50 years after his first book was published, shouldn't need to be argued.

 
At 9/13/2010 3:43 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

Exactly, John. One of the things I find disconcerting about this conversation is the emphasis on popular consensus, which seems more suited to pop-culture and commodities than poetry.

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home