I keep being surprised when poets I consider aesthetically conservative (like Hayden Carruth) admire poets I consider aesthetically wild (like Max Jacob). This shouldn’t surprise me, especially when the admiration crosses generations, as it does in my Carruth/Jacob example. As is well known (I think Silliman talked about this at one time as well), the mainstream of one age looks back to the fringes of an earlier age for inspiration. So what happens to the mainstream in the future? I suppose it also influences the future. That would seem logical, but I’m a little weak on examples.
I get all confused about what the mainstream and the fringes of any age are, anyway. I suppose Byron was the mainstream? I seem to recall he was popular. And Yeats? We certainly still talk about them. But do we talk about them as influential on the way people write now? How about Auden?
Plath was mainstream, I imagine, and she’s still tagged as influential on the way some poets write.
The last 20 years has seen an uptick in conversation about Stevens as influential, or a mix of Stevens and Stein, perhaps? How major was Stevens during his lifetime? I’m pretty sure Stein was on the fringes. Certainly Jacob was, which leads me back to say Max Jacob is a poet to whom I keep returning. It’s a good place to which to return. His version of Cubist Absurdist Surrealism (something like that) would seem to mirror a lot of what’s going on in contemporary American poetry. I wonder if poets are reading him, or if it’s just something in the air.
The Key (Wm Kulik, trans.)