Monday, May 31, 2004

 

A review by Troy Jollimore in the San Francisco Chronicle, in its Sunday edition, uses Jeff Clark’s Music and Suicide as a vehicle for attacking all post-avant poetry. As in:

 

It is, at this point, no longer possible to establish one's poetic legitimacy by being more experimental or irreverent toward the tradition than your predecessors; you can't go further than those guys have already gone. Ezra Pound's command that poets must "make it new!" was itself, once, a new idea. But by now, all the new ideas are really kind of old. It is, at this point, no longer possible to establish one's poetic legitimacy by being more experimental or irreverent toward the tradition than your predecessors; you can't go further than those guys have already gone. Ezra Pound's command that poets must "make it new!" was itself, once, a new idea. But by now, all the new ideas are really kind of old.

 

Which leaves a poet like Jeff Clark in an uncomfortable position -- the position of a would-be counterculturalist who can't find a culture to be counter to. Indeed, it is perhaps no coincidence that the worst poem in "Music and Suicide" bears much resemblance, even in its title, to the worst poem Koch ever published. . . . "When the Sun Tries to Go On"….

 

If Jollimore thinks When the Sun Tries to Go On is the worst poem Kenneth Koch ever published, he’s an example of why the School of Quietude should strive a little harder for total silence. But Jollimore underscores my point that “Music and Suicide reads like a conscious attempt to discredit Clark as a poet.” Indeed, it’s being used to discredit every post-avant poet. The only real question is whether or not this is simply an act of incompetence on the part of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, an accident basically, or is more deliberate & sinister in its intent.





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