Saturday, March 29, 2003
Peter O’Leary adds some light – and layers of complexity – to my comments about Ronald Johnson’s Radi Os and has a few questions of his own.
Dear Ron Silliman,
writing to you as Ronald Johnson's literary executor. Very interested to read
your description of seeing the "original" of RADI OS in
crossing-out that you witnessed was only the first step of the composition. RJ
kept several copies of that 1892 edition of Paradise Lost, each of which he would use to "compose" or
"recompose" his first draft. He once told me that after he had
initially conceived the idea, he raced through half of
next step, after crossing-out, was to type the poems into a draft. I think of
RJ's poetic process as visionary or optidelic (to
coin a word: vision-manifesting). Lest that sound too grand, I really think the
focus in much of the poetry is on the eye. I don't think RJ could
"see" his poem until he typed it out in draft form. What he would do
is type the lines from a crossed-out page, with a 1-1/2 carriage return,
flush-left on the page, typing a five-line underscore after each page. This
way, he would accumulate his poem. When he had enough typed up, he would reread
& revise. If a "page" (taking up maybe a tenth of a typescript
page) didn't work, he would go back into
As an example of what I mean, the famous (to RJ readers, at least) opening of RADI OS reads in typescript:
into the World,
Rose out of Chaos:
step in drafting the poem was for RJ to retype the poem but this time
"aerated," duplicating in typescript the look of the poem on the page
Interestingly, RJ drafted up to book 9 of Paradise Lost, with the original intention that the "completed" text would serve as ARK 100, the "dymaxion dome" to cover the entire work of ARK. This, in the end, he decided against, feeling that the additional work he'd done was repeating RADI OS rather than adding to it.
My own theory about why he stopped with RADI OS is that he perfected this technique in "BEAM 21, 22, 23, The Song of Orpheus" in ARK: The Foundations. That poem, which begins with a quotation – center justified – of the introit to RADI OS, is comprised of a reading-through the Psalms (beginning at the word "PALMS"), in which he took at least one word from each Psalm, in sequence, as the vocabulary for the poem. The writing of this BEAM involved similar revisionary activity to that of RADI OS. It's the highpoint (great horizontal?) of The Foundations & one of the most amazing sequences in the whole poem. I suspect, then, that RJ began to feel a whole 12-book RADI OS would be redundant.
In the end, he settled on including RADI OS in a series of "Outworks" surrounding the edifice of ARK. The Outworks, which includes RADI OS & some later poems, including his incredible monument to the victims of AIDS, "Blocks to Be Arranged in a Pyramid," is in the works with Flood Editions. This book will include the republication of RADI OS (which, regrettably?, before he passed away, RJ retitled, "Poem Excised Paradise Lost").
of the problems we've been facing in imagining this book ("we" being
myself & the directors of Flood, Devin Johnston & my brother Michael), is how to reproduce RADI OS. As you probably know from
your Sand Dollar edition of the book, the text consists of a razored copy of the 1892 edition RJ used for his initial
crossing-out. You can even see razor marks on some of the pages. The text is
also somewhat uneven page by page. One option for reproduction would be to
destroy an edition of the Sand Dollar book in order to create pristine scans,
& then adjust them accordingly (an expensive proposition: in Jed Rasula &
OK. This has become a small essay. I imagine you get a lot of email for your Blog, which I quite enjoy; I check in every day or so. Thanks, as a reader, for the work you're doing.
All the best,
* Which is not at all how this text ends up looking on the printed page:
into the World,
Rose out of chaos:
Friday, March 28, 2003
We have been reminded again
this week of why the saying “May you live in interesting times” was a curse. In
Ironically, I suppose, the
February-March issue of the Poetry Project Newsletter
finally showed up in my mailbox, weeks – indeed it seems like months –
after I first heard about its “Blank Generation” feature. I’d actually seen the
feature itself –
The Blank Generation feature starts off from two comments, one made by Lyn Hejinian, the other taken from my Nov. 21st blog entry, both to the general effect that there had been a depoliticization of the younger generation when contrasted with our own experience of the 1960s. This is followed by comments from twelve writers, ten of whom are significantly younger than either Lyn or I. Obviously, events have substantially rewritten recent history & my initial criticism about depoliticization is one charge I’ll never be able to raise again. That’s the good news.
But I’d like to revisit that comment of mine in the slightly broader context in which it was originally made, a part of Carl Boon’s interview, a response to the question of why I was doing this blog. In the passage that follows, the italicized boldface portions are what were given to so-called Blank Generation respondents & published in the issue:
But there has also been a depoliticization of
younger people generally & that has impacted poets. Some of it has
to do with the lack of tangible alternatives to unfettered capital following
the collapse of the old Stalinist bloc – although for decades it has been difficult
to find any western Marxist who would defend the so-called “actually existing
socialist countries,” in large part because state control over capital is not
socialism. In the West, there has been no primary shared point of agreement as
to the goals of the left since the
Those edits – the excision of history, to be exact – are worth noting.
Like Lyndon Johnson & Richard
Nixon before him, George W. Bush has provided just the sort of “primary shared
point of agreement” that has been lacking for so long. To some degree, the
response to date has been predictable, although dramatically accelerated. The
real issue, it seems to me, will come after
the war, when the
The first Gulf War evaded
the issue neatly by its sheer brevity. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld et al would like
to do that again, but at this moment in history it’s too soon to tell. If there
is a dramatic affective difference thus far between the experience of the
antiwar movement of the 1960s & that of this spring, it is simply that the
level of crisis & action that people have gone through this past week
lasted in the 1960s & ‘70s for ten straight years. In the context of that
degree of exhaustion & frustration, the mistakes of, say, the Weather
Underground or the
My comments were a response to Carl Boon’s question of why, exactly, I was doing a weblog. Since I made those remarks four months ago, I’ve been thrilled to see so many other poets pick up the form. It really doesn’t matter what your aesthetic commitments or heritage might be – acting, writing & thinking critically will add a dimension to your work, your poetry as well as anything else you might do, that I believe can only lead to good things. One excellent example of how this can be extended in ways that go far beyond poetry is Brian Kim Stefans – one of a handful of poet-bloggers to be blogging longer than I – and his Circulars project, a weblog that has become a focal point for collecting & disseminating information related to the war. The last I heard, it was getting thousands of hits per day. It should be on everyone’s favorites list.
I want to dedicate this blog
to an old friend, Wade Hudson. I first met Wade over thirty years ago when we
worked together on dozens of projects as part of the
Thursday, March 27, 2003
As I browsed through the
tapes available from the
There were five group
readings as well. The first, with an obvious
A third reading featured John Sinclair, Lenore Kandel, Ed Sanders & Ted
Berrigan. Berrigan’s presence is really the only visible sign of the
Until I looked at this site,
I hadn’t realized just how thoroughly present & accounted for Canadian
poets were at this early stage – obviously the first
* Sanders is included in the Shapiro-Padgett An Anthology of New York Poets, but in this context seems obviously
to function as a younger Beat poet. Interestingly, two conference attendees,
Lewis Warsh & Anne Waldman, would discover one another while in
Wednesday, March 26, 2003
A few words from Jack Spicer about poetry and politics.
It only took me 38 years,
but I finally got to Jack Spicer’s talk on “Poetry and Politics” from the Berkeley Poetry Conference of 1965.
The Conference was a series of seven talks and 14 readings held on the
At Berkeley, the previous fall had seen the Free Speech Movement on the UC campus, as attempts by the Republican right – notably Senator Bill Knowland who owned the then-powerful Oakland Tribune – to shut down student organizing on campus for local civil rights protests triggered the first full-scale student revolt in the United States. When one student, Jack Weinberg, agreed to set himself up for a “test-case” arrest by setting up a card table at the Telegraph & Bancroft entrance to the campus, he did not anticipate what then ensued: 3,000 students surrounding the police car refusing to let the cops take him away – a standoff that lasted for over 30 hours. The strike that followed brought new phenomena to American colleges – sit-ins and mass arrests – before finally establishing the right of students to use public campus facilities for organizing.
Earlier in the spring of 1965, the Free Speech Movement was followed by the Filthy Speech Movement, as John Thompson, a local street poet, sat on the steps of the Sproul Hall and held up a sheet of paper with the F word penned across it. When the campus cops busted Thompson, other students spontaneously proceeded to follow suit. The media predictably played the issue for laughs.
These are the immediate
political phenomena that Jack Spicer and his audience were thinking about** as
he began his talk. Lurking further behind the talk was a political event from
Spicer’s own days as a student, the imposition of a
Jack Spicer is dealing with
all of these events & forces and he is, in July of 1965, deeply pessimistic
about the possibility of poetry and politics. He sees, for example, no hope for
either poets nor the then burgeoning student movement
to impact the outcome of the
That may sound like an extreme version of coterie poetics, but Spicer – to the discomfort of several people in the audience – makes it sound all very reasonable. At the heart of his argument is a presumption as to whom the poem is for – the poet who writes it. The purpose of the poem is not to be read. Indeed, Spicer says
I don’t know what a non poet can get out of poetry, I’ve never been able to figure it out…. I fundamentally don’t think that nonpoets ought to read poetry.
Even Spicer concedes that this is overreaching on his part, as some of these very same nonpoets tell him interesting and useful things about his own writing as well as that of others. But still, he argues, the relationship of the poem to a broader audience is “futile.” “Not to the poets – they get messages from the poems.”
It is because for Spicer there is a radical separation between poet & poem – Spicer claims there is an audience for the former, but not the latter – that the poem can achieve its status of an object of divination for the writer. Selling out, as he puts it, thus becomes anything which directs the poem toward another end.
“Your enemy is simply something which tries to stop you from writing poetry,” Spicer says, but he makes it clear that “if you violate something that was deep inside you … you’re lost….You don’t write or you write bad poetry or you write for the market.” It’s a value system in which writing for publication and not writing are equivalent.
To this, Spicer offers what amounts to a utopian alternative.
A magazine is a society. I think Open Space proved that. You have to behave within the rules of the society.
was printed monthly in issues of 150 copies maximum over the course of one
year. It had a set & very limited number of contributors – and you were
required to contribute each month. “You couldn’t postpone your poem.” The
magazine was handed out for free & distributed from Gino & Carlo’s, a
Thus from Spicer’s perspective poets create a community – a term that Spicer uses in deliberate opposition to society, which he sees as negative – a community in which the poets included can read one another. This is a vision of the journal not as a record nor as a making public, but rather as lab notes being shared by researchers involved in a common investigation.
So, in Spicer’s argument, the poet’s next task, after the writing of the poem, must be to limit that discussion, to keep the poem from becoming truly public. Spicer recognizes the irony of making this argument at a place like the Berkeley Poetry Conference, professing to be doing so strictly for the money. He makes the point, further, that all poets will sell out – “You have to, for economic reasons” – but that if you do you should at least understand what you’re doing. Spicer uses the analogy of peach farmers who produce vast quantities of product without a sense of what the market demand for peaches might be, so that overproduction reduces the value of the individual peach to near zero – the implication for poetry is obvious enough – the idea behind his talk, Spicer says, is to convince young poets that “When you sell out, know exactly what your peaches cost.” That is, know what you are sacrificing in the way of the poem as an investigative tool if & when you transition into the role of being a poet in public.
Hearing Spicer make this argument & countering the barrage of objections from members of the audience – aren’t poets the “unacknowledged legislators?” wasn’t Yeats an actual senator? isn’t Spicer just revisiting Auden’s position that poetry makes nothing happen? aren’t the folk songs of the civil rights movement an example of verse creating political change? – is fascinating, almost a form of voyeurism. The one point Spicer is willing to actually entertain is the question of song. Expressing admiration for Johnny Mercer, Spicer admits that “if I could write popular songs, I’d do it.”
Spicer’s talk on the 16th
of July comes just five days ahead of Ginsberg’s reading of Kral Majales, a poem that seems to have
infuriated Spicer, who writes a poem in response that turns out to be the last
work he will ever write. Five weeks later, Spicer is dead. He will never get to
see all the ways in which the student movement impacted the Vietnam War,
leading directly to the end of the Johnson
While Spicer’s conception of
the poem as an object of divination may reek of ectoplasm & spoon-bending,
the idea behind it of the poem as a device for investigation is something we
see reappearing in several guises – it’s the aspect of Spicer that one sees,
say, in the work of Robert Grenier or
* Before Rachel Loden writes to correct me & say that tickets only cost $45, I would advise her to check her ticket – which she acquired on the 16th, and which was discounted accordingly. A $45 ticket in 1965 is only worth $367 in today’s dollars. That would have made zero difference to me in 1965.
** In Spicer’s talk, the civil rights movement is discussed in connection with its use of music & song, but no mention at all is made of the assassination of Malcolm X earlier that year.
*** Parkinson’s TA from the previous year, Burt Hatlen, was fortunate to be studying abroad in ’61.
+ Given their differences, both as writers & as people, that’s a significant statement. One could read all of Language, at the time Spicer’s most recent publication, as an extended disproof of Olson’s Projectivism. Spicer’s endorsement is not without its ambivalence, however. Ebbe Borregaard in the audience asks why Spicer compares Olson to Lyndon Johnson, a deliberately provocative query since Spicer hasn’t done so here, although he has said that “There are bosses in poetry as well as in the industrial empire.” Spicer doesn’t dodge the issue: “I meant that he was in the same position in poetry that Johnson is in politics.”
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Somebody not long ago – possibly on a blog or perhaps the Poetics List – suggested that John Ashbery wrote relatively quickly and without much revision. Whether or not that’s accurate – I have no way of knowing – I found it a liberating way to think about his poetry. It reminded me of a similar situation, at least a quarter of a century ago, when I heard another person, someone involved in the visual arts as I recall, who said that they were unable to appreciate the paintings of Mark Rothko until they realized how very quickly most of them were painted & that, far being from the somber & ponderous works of brooding imagination that some of Rothko’s advocates had made them out to be, were almost sketchlike in their qualities.
not in either instance this should turn out to be the case seems to me far less
important than my imaginative ability to conceive of these works in such terms. I can recall, albeit with increasing difficulty over
the years, how I envisioned the texts of Larry Eigner’s on first reading them
as a teenager – all that white space between words & lines made the text
appear to me as “airy,” almost feathery – and it seemed immediately &
completely self-evident that his choices, both in phrasing & linebreaks,
reflected a language that was spoken. Long before I met Bob Grenier,
When I took the bus across the Bay to the board-and-care facility Larry was living in at the time, I met a tiny man with very limited physical abilities – really only full use of one hand, plus the ability to grasp with the other. His speech was only marginally better in person – it would in fact improve markedly over his years in Berkeley, simply because he had so many occasions to try & communicate with different people – but our ability that first afternoon to make eye contact enabled us to take full advantage of body language and extra-linguistic clues to flesh out the conversation. I couldn’t have gotten through it otherwise.
Because the original desk that had been obtained for Eigner had its drawers on the left, and because Larry could not move to the right in his wheelchair, the act of taking a piece of paper & inserting it in the typewriter entailed grabbing it with his left hand, then turning his wheelchair 360 degrees to the left in order to rearrive at the machine. Inserting the paper was no less complicated & the whole idea of a carriage return suddenly made it apparent to me that, even if there were a formal logic in Larry’s poems as to why the poem ought to gradually drift across the page, with lines starting further & further to the right as they proceeded down, there was a physical rationale for the device as well. I never saw any poem of Eigner’s as “airy” or “feathery” again – in fact, no poet ever worked harder to get his words down so exactly on the page. I often wondered as to the degree that Larry’s physical challenges caused him to think so intently on such questions – the very things that were so hard for him were related to issues in writing, like the physical placement of the word & line on the paper, at which he had no peer.
Another, very different text
towards which I have a radically different relationship than most people, I
suspect, is Ronald Johnson’s Radi Os. When I
first met Johnson in 1973, during a period when we both happened to live on
Reading Ashbery as though his poems were, say, written quickly & sans much editing suggests a very different relationship between Ashbery and the “D word.” Consider, for perverse example, the opening to “This Deuced Cleverness,” from Chinese Whispers, whose textual body’s first line continues its title:
is what’s the matter. Can’t see without it.
Or was it, over the years of arrears,
swathed in a hoydenish privacy? No.
It’s ours to deal.
What might it mean for a “deuced cleverness” to be swathed in a hoydenish privacy? If I read this poem as though it were layered & worked over for days, weeks or even years, I might come to a very different sense of those phrases & their implications, especially the latter one which, if perceived as the product of quickness, might be read instead as taking pure pleasure in its overly lush, slightly exotic vocabulary. Similarly, the sound of “years of arrears” would now loom more important, signaling the onset of this surfeit of linguistic overload.
Read as jotted rather than sweated, Ashbery turns into a far more ludic poet, much lighter & far less difficult, capital D – though I’m not much of a believer in difficulty, period – much closer to Frank O’Hara than he might otherwise appear. Certainly far closer to O’Hara than to Merrill or Warren, the other poets with whom Harold Bloom loves to group the poor man. Thus the presumption alone, that setting of expectation, changes the poem itself.
Ironically enough, what this reminds me more than anything is the deflation of T.S. Eliot’s reputation once it became clear that the sharp shifts & hard-edged edits of The Waste Land were all entirely Ezra Pound’s doing & that, left to his own devices, Eliot’s manuscript would have headed in the drowsy direction that later drugged The Four Quartets. I don’t think Ashbery need worry about his reputation – though frankly I think Bloom has done it no good – his work reads very well sans the critic’s furrowed brow.
Monday, March 24, 2003
It was an
inspired reading line-up, to say the very least. On Friday, March 21, the
older of the sons, read first. It was the first time I’d ever heard him, but
his reading fit almost seamlessly with what I find on the page: an essentially
quiet poetry filled with exacting attention to detail, captured with just as
much attention to phrase structure – indeed a poetry
of the phrase. It looks & maybe even sounds a little
Edmund, by comparison, writes work that is, in many ways, louder, its humor goofier & more edgy. As he read from a novella in process, I recall thinking that I hope he never gets mad at me, because his sense of satire can be positively slashing. And it would be delivered with a big cheerful smile.
impossible to imagine that Alice Notley can write anything better than the
works she has produced over the past 15 or so years, as she has been as the top
of her game for a very long time, producing poetry that makes everybody
completely have to set aside preconceptions about form & genre & just
start over with brand new eyes – she does that “make it new” thing as well as
any poet of my generation. But her current project, which might be called
Families that write are not that common – Howe, Saroyan, Ginsberg & his father, Creeley & his grandson Trane Devore. Often if relatives are active intellectually or in the arts, it’s at some angle – Louis Zukofsky & his son the violinist, Marjorie Perloff’s daughter Cory directing the American Conservatory Theater or Lydia Davis’ half-brother, Alexander Cockburn, holding down the crackpot Stalinist franchise at The Nation. In every instance, a part of what enables especially the younger artist with a well-known parent (& the Berrigans in their own way must contend with more than most: Notley, their father Ted & their late step-father Douglas Oliver) is an ability, very early on, to articulate distinctly an aesthetic take – an earlier generation would probably have called this “voice,” but in fact it’s much larger – that is not held in common. Anselm & Edmund Berrigan pass that hurdle easily, but it was only hearing the two of them, one after the other, that I really began to appreciate just how entirely different each is from his sibling.
Note to reading & event coordinators: the Notley-Berrigan Family Values tour would made for a great series of readings, as much a “natural” as when, say, Bobbie Louise Hawkins did the folk circuit with Rosalie Sorrels and U. Utah Phillips. Bring it to your town, now!
Michael Magee wants people to know that he has an article in Contemporary Literature 42:4 (Winter 2001), entitled “Tribes of New York: Frank O’Hara, Amiri Baraka and the Poetics of the Five Spot,” that addresses many of the issues raised in my blog last Tuesday.
I came across the short list for the 1953 National Book Award for poetry &, a little like the 1957 Evergreen Review that I was looking at on Thursday, I find that it’s intriguing for what it tells me about poetry as a social phenomenon. It’s a lesson in the shifting nature of literary attention.
Awards, almost by definition, aren’t a good
representation of the literary scene. What they register is not necessarily
who’s doing good work, but rather the relative social power of different forces
within the terrain, as filtered – always & only as filtered – through the specific & local politics of a given
award body. The Pulitzer gathers its reputation not from the quality of its
choices – which for poetry over the years have been more laughable than not –
but from the simple fact that, by giving prizes to newspapers in other
categories, Pulitzers get regularly reported by newspapers. The more recent
National Book Critics Circle Awards demonstrates principally that book critics
look to those publishers who advertise, which
invariably means the trade publishers, even if somewhere above 90 percent of
all poetry is published exclusively by small presses. So looking to the short
list of 50 years ago is not the same as looking to the poetry of that time as
it is the forces at play within what
In 1953, Archibald MacLeish won the National Book
Award for poetry – he also won the Pulitzer & Bollingen that year, all for
his Collected Poems 1917-1952. Five
decades hence, it’s arguable as to whether MacLeish is read seriously by poets
any more or merely by the professional class of scholars of modernism.
MacLeish, of all the
MacLeish’s circumstance isn’t necessarily so unusual. Of the 12 finalists for the award that year, only two strike me as being read by a substantial number of poets today:* Kenneth Rexroth & W.S. Merwin. Not necessarily by the same poets, but by poets nonetheless. For writers however marginally integrated into OVC, the news is not good – the chances are overwhelming that in 50 years very few poets will be reading your work. And, remember, this is the case for those fortunate enough to make the NBA short list. OVCers who fall outside of that inner circle of benediction can anticipate an even harder time finding audiences in the future.
But the nature of this integration is what strikes me as most visible from the short list. MacLeish & Merwin can both be said to fall fully inside that framework, defined for the moment as connections to New York trade publishers, major university presses, academic appointments & this reinforcing mechanism of the “award circuit” itself. Of the twelve poets on the short list, only five can be truly said to fit within that framework. In addition to MacLeish & Merwin, there were Stanley Burnshaw, something of a maverick among the New Critics in that he was active on the left; Peter Viereck, poet, historian, longtime UMass Amherst professor & already in the 950s something of a professional conservative intellectual; and Robert Silliman Hillyer**, the sonneteer who actively campaigned to have Pound’s works quashed after World War 2. Merwin, it’s worth noting, started out as a scion of the New England Brahmin formalists & would, a decade later, become one of several – Robert Bly, James Wright, Adrienne Rich were others – who dramatically transformed their poetry away from the cramped verse they had inherited.*** Merwin’s 1952 debut volume, A Mask for Janus, a Yale Younger Poets volume selected by Auden, is decidedly pre-transformation.
Rexroth very pointedly was never part of that world.
In the light of this short list, I see him as one of four examples of
“regional” verse that were being called out in 1953 to acknowledge just this
phenomenon. In addition to the western Rexroth, Book Award nominees included
two Appalachian regionalists, Byron Herbert Reece of Georgia & Jesse Stuart
of Kentucky, and Colorado’s Thomas Hornsby Ferril,
the somewhat unacknowledged founder of cowboy poetry. Reece, who committed
suicide later in the 1950s, has become something of a folk figure in his native
state where one of the access trails to the
This leaves three other writers, two of whom seem so
distinct that it would be foolhardy to put them into a list such as
regionalists, the third being more mysterious. The first of these is Ridgeley
Torrence, a one-time
Like Merwin, Naomi Replansky was nominated for her first book. She was also the only woman among the twelve nominees. Replansky continues her work as a poet to this day, although she apparently went over thirty years between her first volume, Ring Song, and her next volume. A correspondent in the 1950s with poets such as George Oppen and an out-of-the-closet lesbian during the starkly homophobic postwar years, she’s an important (if somewhat secret) figure in the history of women’s writing. Interestingly – and perhaps ironically – Replansky’s poem “Housing Shortage,” taken from Ring Song, turns up on all manner of “inspirational poetry” websites, many of which seem blithely unaware of its dimension as a poem about the personal politics of the closet:
I tried to live small.
I took a narrow bed.
I held my elbows to my sides.
I tried to step carefully
And to think softly
And to breathe shallowly
In my portion of air
And to disturb no one
Yet see how I spread out and I cannot help it.
I take to myself more and more, and I take nothing
That I do not need, but my needs grow like weeds,
All over and invading; I clutter this place
With all the apparatus of living
You stumble over it daily.
And then my lungs take their fill.
And then you gasp for air.
Excuse me for living,
But, since I am living,
Given inches, I take yards,
Given yards, dream of miles,
And a landscape, unbounded
And vast in abandon.
You too dreaming the same.
I don’t know enough about Replansky’s poetry to understand why it’s not been more widely published or read. Or perhaps it is, but by a community about which I know far too little.
Replansky, however, is hardly as mysterious as
Ernest Kroll, nominated in 1953 for
I recall Andrew Schelling telling me once that he thought it was okay that poets “disappeared” over time, that it was all part of the composting of literary influences that results in a constant regeneration. I, as readers of this blog & my other work must know, feel much more ambivalent about that. I wonder, for example, how the regionalism of 1953 leads to – if it does – the regionalisms of today, such as Afrilachian poetry. I also wonder if the school of quietude doesn’t need to get off its collective butt and think about creating real institutions & traditions that would enable its writers to develop the kinds of lasting influences & reciprocity that characterize the post-avant scene’s heritage. For while the poets of quietude may get a disproportionate share of all the institutional awards for poetry, their work nonetheless seems largely destined to dissolve rapidly over time.
Some links to the poets on the short list for the 1953 National Book Award:
* Your chances were just as good if you were nominated in the fiction category, as were both May Sarton and William Carlos Williams.
Hillyer is a relative – most Sillimans in the
***This 1960s revolt within the school of quietude has generally been lost amid the many other more flamboyant rebellions & transformations of that decade, but it is certainly worth studying in its own right. One question that might be answered by such an investigation is whether or not John Berryman’s Dream Songs & Sylvia Plath’s Ariel should be viewed as part of that rebellion, or as the liveliest elements of the tradition that remained.
Labels: School of Quietude