Friday, December 16, 2011

There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction we are going.

Today’s Specials: e.e. cummings / Megafaun / Eleanor Friedberger


“You’re going to love this. You’re going to just love it.” –Willy Wonka


This conversation with a silent man, this continual conversion of principles, of what we think doesn’t make any sense . . . of what we say is brand new and what we say is the same old thing and what we say is not as good as what was done in the past and what we say is better than ever before. One person’s inscrutability is another’s, well, something else. Such has always been the case. It’s why I keep going back to this issue. The reception of e.e. cummings is a great example.

Here are a few negative things written about his poetry, circa the 1930s:

Harriet Monroe, while editor of Poetry, wrote of his poetry: “Mr. Cummings has an eccentric system of typography which, in our opinion, has nothing to do with the poem, but intrudes itself irritatingly, like scratched or blurred spectacles, between it and the reader’s mind.”

Another reviewer went further: “His typography is so perverse that the reader is scared off before he has gone very far. The puzzle of his punctuation is not even an amusing one; it certainly is not worth solving.”

So there we have it, right? Such run the lessons of the past.

And then, revisiting one’s decisions, I instantly want to change my mind about my favorite albums from 2011. Over the last few days, looking at the lists of others, I’ve really been enjoying the albums from Megafaun and Eleanor Friedberger.

Here are a few songs, to give you something of a feel for them:

Megafaun by Crammed Discs

06. Eleanor friedberger - My Mistakes by Republic of Music

Eleanor Friedberger - Owl's Head Park by MergeRecords



[concise outline of some reflections concerning fire]

6 Comments:

At 12/16/2011 2:57 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

15 publishers rejected a manuscript by E.E. Cummings entitled ’70 Poems’. When he finally got it published in 1935 (by his mother), the dedication, printed in uppercase letters, read “NO THANKS TO” . . . followed by the list of publishers who had rejected his prized offering. The book, still for sale, is now titled ‘No Thanks’.


----------NO
-------THANKS TO

----Farrar & Rinehart
-----Simon & Schuster
------Coward–McCann
-----Limited Editions
-----Harcourt, Brace
------Random -House
---- Equinox Press
-----Smith & Haas
------Viking Press
---------Knopf
--------Dutton
-------Harper's
------Scribner's
-----Covici-Friede

(the list was arranged in the form of a funeral urn in the dedication page of No Thanks)


What is it they say about critics ... something about knowing the worth of everything and the value of nothing?

 
At 12/16/2011 4:56 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Following are some very famous poets. Are any of them your favorites?


Lisel Mueller
Yusef Komunyakaa
Mona Van Duyn
William Meredith
Henry Taylor
Carolyn Kizer
Richard Howard
Louis Simpson
Alan Dugan
Peter Viereck
William Rose Benet
Leonard Bacon
John Gould Fletcher
Marya Zaturenska
Audrey Wurdemann
George Dillon
Leonora Speyer
Margaret Widdemer


They all have one thing in common: they all won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. E.E. Cummings did not. I’m beginning to wonder if it isn’t actually more of an honor to NOT win it.

Regarding John’s (unattributed) quote above: “Another reviewer went further: ‘His [E.E. Cummings] typography is so perverse that the reader is scared off before he has gone very far. The puzzle of his punctuation is not even an amusing one; it certainly is not worth solving.’”

W.S. Merwin won the Pulitzer Prize in 2009 for his collection ‘The Shadow of Sirius’, which had no punctuation at all. I’d bet old Edward Estlin is laughing in his grave.

I recently noted on another thread on this blog how John Keats was devastated by the negative reviews of his poetry. We all remember Keats, but can anyone name even one of his critics? In that same vein, I lifted this off the internet today:


“In 1944, Emmeline Snively, director of the Blue Book Modeling Agency, told modeling hopeful Norma Jean Baker, ‘You’d better learn secretarial work or else get married.’ I’m sure you know that Norma Jean was Marilyn Monroe. Now…who was Emmeline Snively?”

Also: “Decca Records turned down a recording contract with the Beatles with the unprophetic evaluation, ‘We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on their way out.’ After Decca rejected the Beatles, Columbia Records followed suit.”

Thanks, and God bless you, Mr. Cummings, for giving hope to all of those who are currently neglected and ignored.

 
At 12/16/2011 6:35 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Yes, and the problem is we're all critics.

 
At 12/16/2011 7:05 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/16/2011 7:55 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 12/16/2011 8:51 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

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