Sunday, January 30, 2011

What Can Happen in a Comment Stream - Or, How Kent Johnson Got Banned

I ended up following the comment stream on a recent post on the blog Montevidayo, when Kent Johnson started posting his comments from it on this blog’s post here:

So, when Kent Johnson got banned from that blog, I decided to go back and look closely at what it was that broke the camel’s back.

It reads as something of a classic blog meltdown.  Johannes posts a poem he loves (well, he never says he loves this poem, but he does say he loves Eshleman’s poetry).  Kent doesn’t like it and queries Johannes, asking Johannes to clarify something about it that will make him, Kent, read it better. 

(I’m taking things at face value here.)

Johannes seems to think Kent has ulterior motives, so he approaches Kent by querying his assumptions.  Kent responds by conceding some ground, but pressing the issue about the poem a bit harder. 

Then an anonymous person steps in and gets very personal about Kent and things go rapidly downhill.  It’s a fascinating moment, if a bit uncomfortable. 


Clayton Eshleman on Lara Glenum
by Johannes on Jan.25, 2011

By Clayton Eshleman

Lara Glenum is crawling toward a crocodile crawling toward her.
Osmotic exchange of DNA Dodgem.
Marvelous cross-fire as head-fire, as their Nubian centuries exchange photons.
Soon the Glenum head will penetrate the croc muzzle.
Now only her feet can be seen.
Is Glenum now more alive, more griffin than grail maid?
What is her everscape?
To be green and dentilated in tongue and casing,
to have her own serpentine “around the world” yoyo uroboros?
Maximum Gaga is the grave of the literal,
of the monotale, death of descriptive cheezyness,
for the mind is now in croc goddess crawl formation
beseeching mantle to be mortar, mother to become Merlin,
or maadvark or morguetrial.
The ancient dive gate is now aslit and porous to a fin-handed leech queen
percolating limestone with a serving of menstrual mud.
Inanna as a dragonfly emblazoned on the dial of the human:
to re-evolve its destiny as a squirrel-end,
to inhabit all its Darwin nesting dolls,
to hear metaphor as imaginal transfer to the crocodile angel
pustulating in “my cunt a violent surge-hammer
in the mouth of the Redeemer.”

21 comments for this entry:

Kent Johnson: January 25th, 2011 on 9:06 pm

I’m not quite sure how one is meant to take this poem. Is it in earnest? I hope not. I found it tremendously funny– certainly the funniest poem so far of the young 2011.
Where’s Old Crocodile Dundee when you need him? Pull Laura G. out by her feet, someone, please!

Johannes: January 25th, 2011 on 11:50 pm

Kent, I can’t believe what a traditionalist you are. Do poems have to telegraph if they are “earnest” or “funny”? I personally find that a lot of the poems I like seem all kinds of emotions (funny, scary etc). /Johannes

Kent Johnson: January 26th, 2011 on 5:02 pm

Johannes, that’s a fair response and a good one, in fact. A lot of the poems I like bear different qualities in tension, too (which sounds *doubly* traditionalist to say, of course).

I guess I get the sense this poem is working hard for that “scary” affect, a sort of Baby-Bataille-Eating-Artaud’s-Fecal-Filled-Innards feeling, or something like that, but the problem is that the scariness is overwhelmed by the utter hyperbole of the gothic-reptilian oozy-slimy “lower-body” imagery (trademark of CE, obviously–he’s a great editor and heroically committed translator, but not a first-tier poet), and it all ends up as a wild toothy croc cartoon of its intentions.

As I take them… But maybe you could prove me wrong.

Johannes: January 26th, 2011 on 6:09 pm

Of course it’s a “lower body” poem. I don’t think it’s supposed to be “scary”; that’s just a random feeling I threw in there.

Also, I don’t believe in “tiers” of poetry. I love Clayton’s poetry, but I don’t “tier” my poetry. Again this strikes me as a incredibly conservative way of reading.

Johannes: January 26th, 2011 on 6:10 pm

Another way of saying this is that I think tiers invoke the kind of “canons” Bakhtin talks about the quote I posted the other day. That’s just a totally uninteresting – and inherently formatlist – way of reading poetry.

Kent Johnson: January 26th, 2011 on 6:22 pm

I agree about the “tiers” thing. I could have expressed my estimation (though I’m hardly alone in my opinion, I know!) regarding his big overratedness in a better way.

I will repeat what I said, though, about his importance as an editor and translator. Sulfur was a magnificent project, a labor of love by CE and others that will surely be more widely recognized and honored. And CE’s tireless work as a translator, too, even if there is lots to argue with in his versions, as well (as there should be, always, in translation).

Johannes: January 26th, 2011 on 7:02 pm

I also disagree with invoking “overrattedness” and invoking others (“I’m hardly alone”) to back up your claim. I also think that translation should not be divorced from his work as author, or turned into something moral. I’ll explain later.

Kent Johnson: January 26th, 2011 on 7:29 pm

Good, Johannes, I look forward to your comments.

Just to say, in advance, that I actually agree that in some cases it becomes ultra-complicated to distinguish between a poet’s “own work” and her or his “translation,” especially in instances where the poet-translator sets out to blur the boundary. This is a kind of “poetry-translation” I’ve advocated, as I think you know.

But in the case of someone like Eshleman, the distinction could be defended, given that he himself marks it through the very practice of his translation– one that is somewhat militantly conservative and literal in approach, despite the decidedly non-conservative nature of the poets he translates.

On the nature of my candid “evaluations,” I might have some things to say on its relevance to Eshleman’s well-known attitudes and interventions in that regard, as well.

anyway… Thanks for the conversation. It would be great to have CE step in here for some exchange, too. Hope he will.

Anonymous - ugh, i am so sick of Kent Johnson, first-tier commenter: January 27th, 2011 on 2:24 pm

Kent Johnson on Clayton Eshleman: “A great editor and heroically committed translator, but not a first-tier poet.”

That’s rich, coming from someone whose greatest contribution to literature thus far is not his fraudulent poetry but his unending, inescapable comments on every lit blog in the sphere.

Kent, your like a VISA card: “Everywhere I want to be.” Any chance you can just fuck off and leave this blog? You poison every last one you visit, driving people away en masse. I like this one. Please don’t ruin it.

James Pate: January 27th, 2011 on 5:28 pm

Hi Kent,

Since I’ve written about Eshleman at Action, Yes and Exoskeleton, I just wanted to through in my two cents…First, I don’t think Eshleman is trying to be a “first-tier poet.” That sort of who-is-best, who-is-the-winner attitude is (thank God) very far away from his approach to writing.

Also, considering how little respect his work has in the academy at large, it would be hard to call him “overrated.”

As I wrote in the essay, I think Eshleman is purposely going against good taste. In fact, many of his poems are ugly. But personally I find such ugliness, such a disregard for the unspoken dictates of good Modernist taste, a relief.

Stephen: January 27th, 2011 on 6:18 pm

Glenum’s project (at least as I see it) _is_ the “utter hyperbole of the gothic,” so why should an homage, of sorts, be any different.

Kent Johnson: January 27th, 2011 on 7:42 pm

>ugh, i am so sick of Kent Johnson, first-tier commenter… Kent, your like a VISA card: “Everywhere I want to be.” Any chance you can just fuck off and leave this blog?<


But as I said, the "not a first-tier poet" formulation was far from the best way to put it. And I did make clear I honored Eshleman for his significant contributions as editor and translator.

What I meant, basically, is that I see his atavistic "informe" poetics (hero-poet as excremental machine) as by and large derivative, repetitive, and dead-ended. The obsessiveness with the underworld quest, though at times impressive in energies, presumes to assert an *essence*, and in the near-demonic drive for it, the reach and range of the work becomes narrowed, forced, calcified (in this regard, interesting irony, CE's poetics are quite opposite those of Vallejo). It's not coming out of the blue to say as much. Some of the Surrealists had the conversation with Artaud, if at somewhat different levels and angles, long ago (not that I'd fully side with the Bretonistas).

Now, I understand that suggesting things like the above could hardly be popular to those sternly dedicated to worship of a more or less narcissistic aesthetics of somatic debasement and psychic regression, or whatever Viennese doctors would call it. I mean, I can understand how the toddler violence of the response above would come spurting out. But what you really have to come to terms with, Montevidayoans, is that most of you here (among excepted is Dan Hoy, whose posts are fabulous) seem tightly bridled to thrice or four-times recycled Museum tack. I mean, really: Corporate-sought Arte Povera gave us nihilistic kitsch-redemption and a "rejoinder" to Adorno/Greenberg decades back, "kitsch" now so bandied about here as new theoretical trowel. And the regression-abjection fad was sucking hard on Bataille, ho hum, back in the 80s, early 90s, most of what's not at MoMA now super hot at Christie's. Among all kinds of other neo-a-g-cover-band crapola… As usual, and true to its moniker, "rebellious" post-avant poetry comes late to the institutional party, and reveling, to all appearances, in its belatedness. It's not a pretty picture. I'm saying that this blog, from what I can see, is for the most part inside that picture.

Sorry to be such a stick in the mud about it, but that's my view. And in context of that general frame, it's really quite thrilling to be called a "Visa Card," I must say, which I've never been called before. Always up for direct conversation, sans infantile whimpering, if anyone wants to have it!

Johannes: January 27th, 2011 on 10:31 pm


Why is it that whenever you encounter anybody critical of your views, you turn to name-calling? The fact that you’re name-calling us “un-new” proves to me that you really haven’t read these posts (as I always suspect); seeing as “anachronism” is one of the key topics around here…

And you’re attacks on “post-avant” is really tiresome and reductive. BTW I don’t see myself as “post” anything.

Kent Johnson: January 27th, 2011 on 11:01 pm

I don’t see where I’m calling anyone names? Someone called me a Visa Card and told me to “fuck off” (which admittedly I sort of enjoyed), but I haven’t engaged in any ad hominem remarks. I’m speaking with some directness above, but I’m focusing on work at issue.

As for “post-avant,” I know what you mean about that term. What’s a handier one? I’m all ears.

Johannes: January 27th, 2011 on 11:20 pm

“Neo-a-g cover band” etc etc etc. Give me a big break Kent. Was there any attempt in your post to start a discussion? You say all this stuff about nihilism etc: it’s not part of a discussion, it’s sweeping generalizations and insults. You’re approaching “us” from the point of someone who seeks to insult and attack, not someone who tries to have an exchange of ideas. And it’s said in such an insulting way that I frankly have no desire to respond to these “charges.” So is this discussing issues? Is this trying to have some kind of intellectual exchange? No, of course not, Kent. You’re not interested in that. There are issues in your comment that we could discuss, and i could certainly explain to you why I drag Greenberg up again, but it’s not framed in such a way that I really feel like it. You have your totally reductive framework that you repeat over and over, and through which you cast yourself hypocritically as some kind of heroic “maverick,” but nothing gets through. There can be no discussion with you. Really, what the hell is the point of any of this? Why do you keep coming back to this blog and begging for attention??

Nick Demske: January 29th, 2011 on 5:49 am

I had a vision of love
And it was all that you’ve given to me
I had a vision of love
And it was all that you’ve given me

I’ve realized a dream
And I visualized
The love that came to be
Feel so alive
I’m so thankful that I’ve received
The answer that heaven
Has sent down to me

James Pate: January 29th, 2011 on 8:10 pm

Hi Kent,
These are huge generalizations that have little to do with what most of us are discussing. In my posts, for example, I’ve been dealing with specific issues raised by an array of philosophers and artists–and unless you feel like serious thinkers like Critchley and Deleuze can simply be dismissed, then I’m not quite sure what your argument here is…

Plus, not all writers have to be interested in the same thing. Nor do they all have to agree with what constitutes the “true” nature of the current poetry/art scene. And if there are disagreements, I don’t see how blanket generalizations and insults help the matter…

Johannes: January 29th, 2011 on 9:53 pm

He doesn’t read the posts. He just really wants this cliche idea about the avant-garde to be true. When confronted with statements that contradict it, he freaks out and spews a bunch of stuff. So I’ve had it with him. He can go and freak out on some other blog.Now reason for us to waste our time trying to have a discussion with him.

Lucas: January 30th, 2011 on 4:40 am

Interestingly, Clayton Eshleman and Kent Johnson strike me as very similar figures in American poetry. The world and its past and politics and power relations are very much part of their poetry, their translations, and their investments into the larger literary community (communities that, for some reason, view each of them as always already at fault, forever unforgiven for some perceived sin from before, when they said the wrong thing and offended the wrong person somehow; I can’t think of two writers more likely to be as met with scornful distrust as these two). Of course, they are very different writers–Kent’s project is more sociological, I’d say, whereas Clayton’s is more psychological–which must account in some way for KJ’s dismissal of CE as a poet. But speaking as someone who does tier his poetry, I’d say they are both very valuable to me, both as poets and as people.

I can’t claim to understand Clayton’s “Hovering Lara Glenum,” above, but that’s probably because I’ve only read a very few LG pieces. I expect that Clayton is reinvoking imagery from her writing, in a way that might be related to what happens in translation. But whereas in translation we might not be able to access the poetry in question aside from the translation (I don’t read Spanish, so I can’t see what CE does with his Vallejo versions the way that KJ can), we can if we want to access poetry written in English, which means that we can see how LG and CE crawl towards each other, consume each other, reconfigure and reconstitute each other.

Also, I should say, the word “monotale” in this piece not only rhymes with the crocodile’s tail, and means the singular end-pointed story, but also seems to descend from monogatari, the Japanese word for, well, tale (cf. Genji no monogatari, “The Tale of Genji”).

But if CE’s poetry tries to dismantle or destabilize selfhood by reaching into its depths in search of an underlying emptiness, a lot of what KJ does dismantles selfhood in an opposite way, by looking at its surfaces and social constructedness, so that nothing can be said to be either “yours” or “mine” anymore but always just “ours.” So strange and ironic that both of them, whom I think of as dismantlers of the ego, are seen as so egocentric. Really, I don’t get it.

But if KJ’s ranking of CE seems unfair, so does in my mind the response, both defensive and offensive, to KJ in these comments. To say that Kent doesn’t read the posts, or to accuse him of name-calling, or that he freaks out and spews a bunch of stuff when all of his posts have offered contrition for an earlier overstep and ended with a question or appeal to move forward… well, I’ll just say it seems to be holding oneself to a much lower standard than what one holds others to. It also seems, Johannes, like you’re considering censoring Kent from Montevidayo’s comments forever. If so, do you really want to go down that road? Haven’t others tried it before? How did that work out for everyone?

So anyway. Clayton and Kent. If I didn’t know better, I’d think they were both pseudonyms of Cid Corman, or some other ornery translator of European poetry who lived in Japan. Maybe Horrah Pornoff is the real Yasusada author?
irregular Lucas

Joe Bratcher: January 30th, 2011 on 5:31 am

Guess I got in on this a bit late, but I just want to thank CE for driving me back to re-read LG. Re-reading her after encountering her in CE’s reading and writing was the type of experience I long for in poetry. I’d much rather be (and much more often am) driven back to poetry I’ve read long ago by poems that I’ve just read as opposed to criticism.

Johannes: January 30th, 2011 on 3:04 pm

Irregular Lucas,
You make many good points in this post. And I’ve written on this very blog about Kent’s work in positive (if unorthox) ways.

About Kent, the short answer is: You haven’t seen the emails he’s sent me. They are very un-becoming, full of threats and insults and name-calling.

And these emails confirm what I already suspected: that he was never interested in having a discussion, he was interested in over and over again positing his hobby-horse theory of the institutionalization of the avant-garde, a theory which, as James points out, makes huge generalizations – about “the avant-garde,” about institutionalization, and this blog. This is in part what I mean by name-calling (though I also mean the more base kind): he’s not interested in having a discussion, he’s interested in throwing out this theory in a self-righteous way, never taking into account the particulars of our views. Apparently now he’s going to devote an issue of his journal to attack Montevidayo. Which is fine, but it does seem to back up my view.

Perhaps the best example I can think of is when he responded to my pretty damning critique of The American Hybrid by repeating his mantra about how we were the establishment and how it was typical that we liked the American Hybrid etc, obviously not having read a single word of the review, because to in order to consider my views on the anthology he’d have to alter his reductive idea about me.

I have more problems with him, but I’m really through dealing with him. It doesn’t matter how contritely he comes begging to be let back or how angrily he threatens me, or how much he goes on a rampage against us on the Internet: I just don’t feel like dealing with him. Too much drama. Of course he can always come up with a pseudonym and write comments (he’s good at coming up with names!). Mostly I just don’t feel like dealing with the drama. Right now I have to go take care of my kids, I jsut don’t have time for Kent Johnson.


At 1/30/2011 3:47 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Well, this is a surprise. To step forward a bit in my own defense in regards the last comments by Johannes Goransson below, I will share a letter I wrote to him today:


Of course, since you've banned me for no suitable reason from commenting at Montevidayo, I can't defend myself directly from the character assassination you launch in your response to Lucas Klein.

It's up to you if you choose to go the censorship route, it's your blog. But it's really beneath you now to make essentially scurrilous, distorted claims about the back and forth. Yes, with some back-channel intemperance, I referred to you as a "coward," after you sent the comment I quote below, and right after you deleted my rather calm response to your ad hominem charges against me further up the stream--that censored response pointed out there is some "history" at play in your interactions with me, and your erasure of that was ironic proof of what I said therein about your obvious shortcomings when it comes to dealing with challenge and criticism: you blow up and then try to divert attention from any critique with personal accusations, innuendo, and heavy-handed discourse control. (That deleted comment is posted at John Gallaher's blog, under the 1/24 video post.)

And it's true that I'd earlier likened your censoring predispositions to a proto-"Stalinist" impulse that seems fairly common in the "avant" poetry blogosphere. I can see why that might have ticked you off, even if you then proceeded, somewhat poignantly, to validate the suggestion. In any case, to make clear the context in which those comments to you were made, and because you've grossly distorted the record at your blog, I'm reminding you here what you wrote to me with no good provocation back-channel (before, to be sure, I called you a "coward"):

>[passage deleted; I don't have Johannes's permission to quote it publicly]

It's true that I lost my temper a bit at you, following the above email, and I could have perhaps maintained my calm a bit better than I did. But it would be decent of you to publicly acknowledge that your personal comments about me today were improper. After attacking me in this ad hominem way, without my having any recourse to fairly respond, it's the least you should do. I have never spoken publicly of you in such a manner and never would, and I can assure you that others have noticed the unfortunate nature of the outburst.


At 1/30/2011 4:07 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Also, for the record, here is a relevant comment from me yesterday that Johannes, for no good reason so far as I can see, deleted. Though I suppose he probably did because I call out there his habit to obfuscate topical challenges with barrages of personal insult and dismissal. It's a riposte to his confused reply to me about the "neo-a-g."


I wasn't referring to *poets* when I said "neo-a-g cover bands"; I was referring to neo-a-g movements in art. You are familiar with the diverse considerations of the neo-a-g, in the ballpark of such metaphorical light, right? And I used "nihilism" in reference to Fontana and Manzoni and Arte Povera (you should really look into that in regards kitsch, if you haven't)--"nihilism" has been commonly used in discussions of that phenomenon. Actually, it's been used plenty of times (though a contested term, true) in serious studies of certain elements of the early a-g and lots of neo-a-g. It's not a bad word, or something. You say I'm approaching things with generalizations, making sweeping claims. No doubt that is true, in part! Tell me where exactly you think my sweeping generalizations *misrepresent* and why, then. Tell me specifically what makes you so unhappy about what I'm saying. I thought that for a blog comment, I said some reasonably specific things, actually. I've said plenty that could open up some exchange. All you have to do is hitch up your pants and get going. But you sort of sound like you're scared stiff to get down about some things, actually.

I've noticed, Johannes, from different interactions, that you really, at bottom, don't like to be challenged in any way. You are temperamental, caustic, and cutting in your own polemics with others, but when you're challenged in any kind of substantial manner you get all uptight and scolding and start accusing people of acting in bad faith. Fundamentally, I think you are afraid to engage in real direct debate. You seek to control the discourse (from your position as blog-owner, I suppose it's your call) with personal charges and bullying claims that aim to divert attention away from the issues at hand. Of course, this is not just "you." It's a chronic condition of our (forgive the term) "post-avant." But at least, to your credit you say *something*, timid and disingenuous at bottom as your reactions often are-- most people just use the tried and trusty Power Silence tactic. Which is a hoot in and of itself.

OK, have a good night. Go Packers. And read Peter Burger, young man, just for starters.

At 1/30/2011 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh this IS interesting. There are several places where each of the people involved could have diffused things, but each time each of them chose to go the other way, to get a little poke in.

How would this have played out in someone's living room?

At 1/31/2011 4:07 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I posted this comment stream from Montevidayo because I thought it represented a fascinating case of what happens, and what has happened in different ways on this blog as well.

The point isn't really which of you gets the last word (he did on the blog, you do here now), but what happens that I wish wouldn't happen.

One thing is certain out of this exchange, and your exchanges with other people on this blog and others: you really do need to get your own blog. It's easy, really easy to do.

At 1/31/2011 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

From looking at the comments here from Kent Johnson, I'm reminded of the limitations of such a study.

I like the idea of putting this up as an example, but I'd like it even more if all the surrounding documents (backchannel emails - what they were watching on TV) were included.

One of the things possible with Internet-based communication, is the way that it can be - theoretically - reconstituted. Such a project would be quite lovely.

- Chris

At 1/31/2011 6:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


OK, I'll admit I slowed down to peep at this car wreck. Both sides are right about each other: no survivors.

I just can't look anymore. Thanks for reminding me why I'm fighting the good fight at Scarriet.

Byron thought late Wordsworth obscure. Imagine what he'd think of Sulfur and that ilk. Byron and I'd have a good laugh about it, I'm sure, by the 'Bridge of Sighs' canal.

Thomas Brady

At 1/31/2011 7:05 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Mr. Brady,

If you're going to use publication in Sulfur as indication of being part of an ilk, I'm part of that ilk.

I realize now I should not have posted this comment stream. Sometimes I get to thinking about things in more of a clinical way than a social way. What I mean is, I was interested in the rhetorical situation. How it develops.

Part of what I was thinking is that Kent Johnson should reconsider how he enters rhetorical situations, and now it seems I just reminded myself of the very same thing. Fascinating.

At 1/31/2011 8:30 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'd just like to clarify so no one takes this the wrong way. I think it would be wonderful if Kent Johnson started a blog. I would go there often. I think what he has to say, what he has to contribute to online discourse, is larger than ONLY the comment section of other blogs.

By saying this I was not saying he should not comment on this or any other blog. This is why I leave my comment section open and not moderated. Agree, disagree, or submit information. It's a free space. And Kent Johnson is always welcome.

At 1/31/2011 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Yea, there is something 'nasty-snake-eating-itself' about the whole thing, but don't feel bad. We're all learning. As for Sulfur, as with everything else in po-biz, we need to learn to laugh a little about it all. Isn't that the whole lesson here? Kent and Johannes simply taking themselves too seriously? They're both smart, they both have things to say, but there's that tiny flaw...


At 1/31/2011 8:34 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I don't know about Kent or Johannes (except, yes, they are both intelligent), and how they take themselves, but I can say this: I took myself too seriously once. It was a bad afternoon for all involved.

At 1/31/2011 8:38 AM, Blogger Nate said...

I was totally behind Kent until it came out that he was a Packer fan. Ugh.

At 1/31/2011 8:53 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...


Well, and I would totally have been your new friend... Apparently that won't be possible.

At 1/31/2011 9:00 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Aesthetic disagreements are one thing, but football is for keepers.

(The Packers are football, right?)

At 1/31/2011 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Steelers are not only thugs, the refs cheat for them. The whole world's a Packer fan this Sunday.
Dan Rooney, Steeler owner, is Obama appointed US ambassador to Ireland, God bless 'em, but come on! Pittsburgh's QB alone is enough to root against... GO PACK!

Thomas Brady

At 1/31/2011 12:37 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I'm pretty indifferent to this whole mess, though it is always a shame when people resort to closing comments or banning people.

At 1/31/2011 12:49 PM, Blogger Nate said...

Truth be told, I'm simply a mopey Bears fan! I was only joking, though, & I didn't mean anything personal by it. I hope Kent realizes.

One could, of course, draw an analogy between (however silly) between sport rivalries and the unfortunate turn the Montevidayo stream took. Where's the point that you just back off & let it be? Sure, the stakes are higher in the aesthetic universe, but don't think for a second a loss by my favorite team doesn't shoot tiny daggers in my (immature) heart!

p.s. I'm not pulling for the Steelers either! Can't there be a 0-0 tie so that, by virtue of head-to-heads the championship goes to Chicago? Okay, that's probably more football talk than John would have ever liked to appear on this blog. Lest he turn of the comment stream, I'm stopping. NOW.

At 1/31/2011 1:21 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Fuzz, I'd meant to respond to your good comment in the post on the liguistics stuff. Just to say thanks for taking a look at that and for the smart observations.

And Nate, of course I was just kidding, though I am a Wisconsin boy, so I do take my Packers seriously. Agreed on your analogy!

At 2/02/2011 2:35 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

from the TLS: Hugo Williams' column (p.16, April 17/09), recounting a story from one of Ian Hamilton's USA pobiz-crawls wherein he encountered, quote:

[A] certain professor who had gone on about the work of Clayton Eshleman. "Just a tremendous poet", he said. Surprised by this, Ian asked for the title of a good poem by Eshleman. "Oh, I don't know", said the professor. "Taken as a whole, you see. Just a tremendous poet." Ian insisted on knowing the name of a single decent poem so he'd be able to understand what the professor was talking about. "Oh for God's sake", the man said. "What is this anthologist's approach to literature?"


reminds me of when Diane Wakoski informed me in 1970 that in order to appreciate Robert Kelly I must read ALL his poems. . . since RK had published approx 300 pages at that point (what's it up to now, 3 thousand?), I did not follow her instructions.

anyway, I have an "anthologist's approach": I don't want to read anybody's Complete Poetry, only their best—

At 2/03/2011 9:58 AM, Blogger Phanero Noemikon said...

There is the distinct possibility of everything being a Socratic Irony.

In fact, it's easy to say that,

every opinion

bears the stamp of the structure of a Socratic Irony.

Now, when I teach children
I generally will move from

Socratic Irony
directly into the
Biosemiotic Dialectic

or one could come up with a universal term for human perception



I think you will all realize
who the Lord of the Poets is:


in its sense as



wv: katersta

At 2/03/2011 2:41 PM, Blogger Chef E said...

Would I be trite in saying if we only put as much energy into taking care of our bodies...I find taking a walk before saying something I really want to say to someone helps me not say anything, and write something instead.

I understand how things like this get out of control, I have had a blog troll come after me for years now. I read what he says and then delete. I find people will tend to avoid your site if this is going on.

Just sayin' and like the blog! Found it looking for poetry sites through other poetry streams...

At 2/03/2011 4:10 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...


Bill Knott said:

"anyway, I have an ‘anthologist's approach’: I don't want to read anybody's Complete Poetry, only their best—"

This leads one to wonder how a person's "best" poems could be selected if you haven't read them all.

Oh, I get it! Let someone else do the work and, in so doing, decide what’s 'best' for all.


At 2/04/2011 9:02 AM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...

I wondered the same, Gary. I don't understand people who only read selected poems and the scant entries in anthologies. Part of the pleasure of reading, at least for me, is to see a poet's work evolve.

Anthologies don't allow for this kind of sight-seeing.

At 2/04/2011 7:14 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Fuzz Against Junk said:

"Part of the pleasure of reading, at least for me, is to see a poet's work evolve."


That's why I named my first book 'Evolving - Poems 1965-2005'


At 2/06/2011 10:22 AM, Anonymous David Maso said...

Yes, well, you've obviously never had KJ as a hyperventilating nutcase email correspondent. The guy is a bottom feeder.

At 2/07/2011 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The no-talents defend the idea of reading all the work; sure I'll read ALL the work of every poet who ever lived...sure! And I'll enjoy how they 'evolve.' Riiight.

That's all well and good in theory, but there's two things wrong with this theory. 1. Life is short. and 2. Human productions are hit or miss. The obscure works of wonder are produced by those good enough to also produce 'hits.' Show me your 'hit' first, and then we'll talk. Don't be so arrogant to tell me to read it ALL. Who the F. are you kidding?

Thomas Brady

At 2/07/2011 7:55 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I've been gone to AWP and I'm just now back.

Perhaps I can propose a middle ground: there are some poets (and bands, etc) that I want to have all their work, no matter what, there are some I'm fine checking out in anthologies, or selected poems, or a recommended book, and there are some I'm happy to skip entirely.

But one thing I'm absolutely sure of, sentences like this: "The no-talents defend the idea of reading all the work" are not good ways to make any kind of point. It just makes others want to fight you when they otherwise (just thinking about your points) wouldn't.

At 2/07/2011 12:04 PM, Blogger Fuzz Against Junk said...


I don't think anyone was in favor of reading every single poet's collected works, though maybe that wasn't clear. This discussion cropped up around the idea of not reading any collected works. As John had said, there are some writers (bands, etc), that you want everything they produced.


It actually has something to do with what you said, "Human productions are hit or miss." Let's face it: writers are influenced by what they read. Avoiding what doesn't work can be useful, but you need to know what you're avoiding. Or it can be challenging: why doesn't it work? Could it work? Could it be better?

At 2/07/2011 8:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Oscar Wilde said he didn't trust people who agreed with him, or something to this effect; I admit to operating within this psychology; I 'start fights' intentionally for the sake of rhetorical interest. There, I've said it. In truth, I'm just a nice guy like you and most everyone else...


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