AnzFray IghtWray Part Infinity + 1
AnzFray IghtWray again on the MFA and contemporary poetry in general. This time from the Huff Post blog of IsAnay IvaniShay. IghtWray has said similar things for some time now on the comments boxes of blogs and on his facebook page.
IvaniShay says of the email interview: “Franz is always compassionate, generous, and kind and friendly in unexpected ways--and I hope the following exchange conveys a little of his warm personality.”
This might or might not be true, I don’t know. But if it is true, no, this exchange does not convey it.
I’m not even sure I should pass this along, it’s such a useless issue, but these comments about MFA programs and contemporary poetry continue to pop up around the block. Is there anything left of value to say about this? Was there ever? I doubt it. Mostly I just find the whoel thing depressing. (But I'm already depressed, as I just read that R.E.M. has broken up. )
Look, the king is on fire!
Here’s the link to the complete interview:
Anis: Often, in these poems, you proceed by negation of previously stated propositions. The sum of negations in an individual piece might add up, however, to a vast affirmation. What do you think of this way of describing the pieces in Kindertotenwald?
Franz: I can hardly imagine a better way to say this than you just have in your question, I can only say how wonderful it is to have such a perceptive reader, what my father used to call "an intelligent reader of good will," something we are in very short demand of.
They won't have that kind of thing in most MFA programs, and virtually every poet of note teaches in one, with the exception of me and, in my father's generation, Robert Bly and W.S. Merwin, and virtually every poet who publishes a poem in the United States is the product of these programs, where twelve or fifteen blind children sit around a big table and give each other advice on how to write in the manner that is fashionable at the moment (sometimes they have an illustrious poet with no training whatsoever as a teacher to guide them, sometimes a poet nobody has ever heard of and probably never will, perhaps because...never mind--I hate the subject,
I hate the dumbing down of poetry, the lowering of the bar until, as both revered teachers and friends of mine Donald Justice and Simic commented, it is almost impossible for young people to tell the difference between a good and a bad poem, since for decades it has been fashionable to write in such a manner--obscurity for obscurity's sake is how I would describe it--that makes it virtually impossible to tell whether you have any talent, have anything very interesting to say, etc.
It is a remarkable thing. The greatest poetry in the world, it seems to me, was being written by American poets until--coincidence?--around the late seventies when MFA programs became ubiquitous in American colleges and universities. Richard Howard once quipped darkly at a PEN gathering I happened to be at to receive a writing award, that there are now more writers than readers of poetry in the United States.