Sunday, January 09, 2005
There is a question in the interview that each poet responds to on the Here Comes Everybody website that reads “What is something which your peers/colleagues may assume you’ve read but haven’t? Why haven’t you?” My own answer to that was:
It’s impossible for me to know what my peers may assume that I’ve read. I haven’t read Henry James or Thomas Wolfe. Why? Because I haven’t gotten around to it yet.
Yet I might have answered, just as well, Guy Davenport. I must have tried ten or twelve times, but I never got into any of his books in any significant fashion. After recognizing that I had several volumes in which I had read 25 pages or less, I sold them among the 13 cartons of books we took to Shakespeare & Company and Moe’s as I was leaving
It’s not simply that Davenport represented a side of the New American aesthetic I could not get into – like Paul Metcalf, say. But rather he always struck me not only as precious in his writing, particular as it was, but also as the last living example of a kind of critic whose work I deeply distrusted – someone attracted to Pound not for the poetics, but for the politics.