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Author Topic: Judging Poetry and Integrity  (Read 69895 times)
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Bugzita
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« Reply #45 on: December 22, 2006, 02:38:49 PM »

When entering fee-based contests or forking over money for having one's manuscript "considered," it's ALWAYS......

CAVEAT EMPTOR!

 :evil:
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ennifer Semple Siegel

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adamhardin
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« Reply #46 on: December 22, 2006, 02:39:46 PM »

Joshua Marie Wilkinson:

His biography mentions that he grew up in the Haller Lake neighborhood. I think that is the trend for future workshop "poet" bios: mention that you come from the Hamptons or Chicago's Gold Coast. If you do this, don't be as dumb as Rick Moody who evidently is from the "priviledged middle class."    

If you don't think Joshua is a dilatante, take note that he went to film school in Dublin. Only a workshop runt/dilatante would go to film school in Ireland. Bet it was for the scenery.

In the end, the problem isn't poetry or Academia(though the workshop is most prevalent literary disease) as much as the people themselves. You have the wrong people. But they have the right money.

Poets are now parodies of themselves(something that most real poets never were) . They have become their own cliche. They are pretentious, literary, obscurantists and dull wankers, whom no one will ever read. They want people to read them and they do not want people to read them because "good poetry" is not readable unless you are trained for it.

Thus:  

"Poetry" is now an Academic discipline. It is the same kind of thesis and paper shuffling that keeps the rest of the humanities busy. It requires the same sort of specialized training just to read and understand poetry. But that is because they have defined what it is, and what is appropriate and what is not, in the same way other humanity fields have paradigms that govern their discipline.

Personally, I just say we are going to have a few poets(some with the appropriate CV and others like Buk). And we are going to have a hell of alot of Academic Poets.
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arold Bloom's accountant does not know how Harold managed to effortlessly transition their discussion of annuities to Falstaff but he suspects a similar ploy was used to sexually harrass Naomi Wolf.
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« Reply #47 on: December 23, 2006, 03:03:36 AM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"


I agree poetastin did a bang-up job with your poem.   I'm sure levine couldn't do better.

third stanza: who is the "pauper prophet?"   and what is the deceptively simple wisdom of what he says?  I admit I'm stumped.  I naturally think of Christ...  Is there some 'rubiyat of ohmar kayam' philosophy in here? 'enjoy it while it lasts' kind of thing?


I appreciate Monday Love’s stab at the 3rd stanza in my poem, "Do Not Assume Because You Cannot See" and even more Bugzita’s honesty in saying that after puzzling over the stanza for some time, indeed over the whole ending of the poem, she is still in the dark. So that answers my question—there is indeed a problem here and I must decide what (more anon!) I’m going to do about it. I’ve also still not responded to Bugzita’s request on this thread that I explain what I meant when I asked on December 12th, "Is there a connection between integrity and great poetry, or can a charlatan dissemble it?"

Since we’re now face to face with the Tupelo juggernaut again with the announcement of the July Open Reading results, I’m going to try to talk a bit about why I personally feel I would have gained nothing of value if I had paid Jeffrey Levine $295.00  for the page by page, line by line pre-publication nose job he offered me last November.

The poem in question has been quoted so many times recently I’ll just post the last bit—anyone who has not been in the loop can easily go back and look:


Yes, just as the pauper prophet says—
pray for what you've got
and really have it!
 
New and better worlds are
just paper patterns in
the homely seamstress' mind,
neither pinned nor cut
nor saddled—
believe
in what you've got
and you can walk her arm in arm
in heaven's fabulous parade
decked out in God's own
fabric!


Monday Love was right that the New Testament is there—on the other hand, it was my hope that the thought as it was expressed in the stanza was pure and clean enough to stand on it’s own without having to invoke any of the names of God.

The passage in question is from Mark 11.24, and comes right after the disciples have expressed amazement that Jesus could actually zap the fruitless fig tree just with words—i.e. that he could do real magic with words alone—which is, of course, what we’re talking about in this Forum too when we ask ourselves how we can write real words, true words, powerful words, words of genuine conviction and lasting human value. Could a workshop help, or an MFA, or a line by line, page by page Jeffrey Levine job? Could Jeffrey coach us to the point where we could zap that fig tree, for example?

Here’s what Jesus says about how to do it. He looks up from the withered fig tree and points to the great big mountain in the distance and says: "Whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith." And that’s amazing, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t say believe in God or have faith in me, the Son of God,  or memorize scripture, follow the rules, recite the mantra, inscribe the hex-sign or even be good, he just says to know that what you’ve written is already true and you’ve got it, as simple as that!

"More anon," then. Where I as a poet get into trouble with this poem is that I cannot assume that a modern day reader can read the injunction to "pray for what you've got and really have it" and understand that it means pray for what you've got and really have it. Of course the first two stanzas have to set up the conditions in which such a staggering proposition can be grasped, but even then the reader has to have some experience of the POWER OF INTEGRITY to understand the power of true language. Because indeed, there have been many, many human beings who could strike down fig trees and move mountains by ‘words’ alone, whether Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert or Aborigines or Inuit or you name it. But if they genuinely have the power they never do it just to demonstrate the power simply because it can NEVER be done hypothetically, ever, anymore than it can be done in a lab or on TV or in an academy, even at Iowa or Colorado!

Charlatans can't do it simply because they're lying and, as Bugzita just said so eloquently, they know it!

Q.E.D.--or in other words:



SALVATION POETICS

What poem is
not a prayer?

We write to get
and not to hope
or give

we write to have
whatsoever we desire!
 
Like prayer a poem
does not ask
but celebrates
accomplishment—

all unfettered from
the need to make believe
a poem is
exactly what it says

even if it means
the most dutiful roots
must dry up,

that all the weight of
rock and dizzy height
must slide
down into the sea
and leave
the mountain folk
standing bereft
and breathless

on the plain!



Thanks for your good ears, dear friends, Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
Monday Love
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« Reply #48 on: December 27, 2006, 02:19:16 PM »

Dear Christopher

Poetry is religion without the religion.  So to use Biblical scripture in a discussion of poetry is not playing fair, exactly.  TS Eliot was religious only because he was the 'highbrow' wing of radical modernism; Eliot's religion was part of his British highbrow garb; it was an effective strategy and always is, since poetry is implicitly religion anyway.  Milton is not used in the churches.  So-called religious poetry is just religion bleeding into other areas--it's another means of converting us.  And the greatest anti-poet, Plato, was a poet too, so there's really no way to escape, finally.  We're hemmed in by religion and religion disguised as poetry or poetry disguised as religion on all sides.   There is no integrity, per se, which saves us here, since religion is integrity abstracted and since all theoretical discussion of poetry is abstract, there is no way to burst through the whole question at all; we are walled in by poetry and religion and integrity.

You celebrate the anti-religious aspect of the new testament lesson which is at the heart of your poem: " And that’s amazing, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t say believe in God or have faith in me, the Son of God, or memorize scripture, follow the rules, recite the mantra, inscribe the hex-sign or even be good, he just says to know that what you’ve written is already true and you’ve got it, as simple as that!"

So here you are doing exactly what I am describing: you are attempting to get beyond religion to what is "true" and "simple."  I see what you are doing and I applaud that.  

The problem, however, is that by leaving behind religion you are also leaving behind poetry, for unfortunately poetry is not a lesson, it is not didactic.  You are in a dilemma.  You are making a speech against speeches, you are preacher, saying we don't need preachers.  This is why you are trapped in this: How can I make this simplicity understood; how can I make readers grasp the simplicity of what I am saying?  You can't.  Because poetry, as Keats remarked, is a "fine excess."  Poetry is not 'the simple lesson.'  That is not what it is.  Staying with Keats a moment, I think the only thing a poet can do is be against superstition, not against religion, not against the tangible, materialistic aspects of poetry or song.  

When Christ said anyone can make a mountain sink into the sea by saying so, I don't think he really meant that we can sink a mountain with our words.  I think the trick is that yes, eventually that mountain will fall into the sea, and to know this is the thing; the thing is not that our words are actually some mysterious, supernatural force capable of knocking down mountains.

Monday
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« Reply #49 on: December 28, 2006, 07:30:45 PM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"
Dear Christopher

Poetry is religion without the religion.  So to use Biblical scripture in a discussion of poetry is not playing fair, exactly...  

You celebrate the anti-religious aspect of the new testament lesson which is at the heart of your poem:    " And that’s amazing, isn’t it? Jesus doesn’t say believe in God or have faith in me, the Son of God, or memorize scripture, follow the rules, recite the mantra, inscribe the hex-sign or even be good, he just says to know that what you’ve written is already true and you’ve got it, as simple as that!"

So here you are doing exactly what I am describing: you are attempting to get beyond religion to what is "true" and "simple."  I see what you are doing and I applaud that...  

The problem, however, is that by leaving behind religion you are also leaving behind poetry...
 
When Christ said anyone can make a mountain sink into the sea by saying so, I don't think he really meant that we can sink a mountain with our words.  I think the trick is that yes, eventually that mountain will fall into the sea, and to know this is the thing; the thing is not that our words are actually some mysterious, supernatural force capable of knocking down mountains.

Monday


Dear Monday,
   Thank you for your response, as always stimulating, far ranging and generous—but this time just a bit perverse. All poetry is a tissue of references, isn’t it, and isn’t all language the same with its buried metaphors and fossilized detritus?. If I write, as I just did in a new poem, "yet another busted dawn’s/O early, early care," there are unmistakable ‘Stars & Stripes’ overtones, but that doesn’t mean the poem is necessarily Nationalistic or even Political--or if I write a little haiku like "Go, boys,/bid the soldiers/shoot & tell the girls/God’s secret’s/Adam’s/hair" the poem is about Religion, the Bible, Hamlet, or even Gender!

Also like most poems worth their salt, neither DO NOT ASSUME BECAUSE YOU CANNOT SEE  nor SALVATION POETICS say what their parts seem to be saying, and almost stand against whatever expectations they arouse in us. The poems aren't about their references at all, I would say--and there are many references in DO NOT ASSUME we haven't discussed yet, like the theosophical associations in "silver dove or dawn"--which are, in fact, important and quite deliberate.

Finally, because a poem is not Religious doesn’t mean it is Anti-Religious, or vice-versa. I even said in my last post that I hoped the thought expressed in the stanza with the scriptural echo was "pure and clean enough to stand on it’s own without having to invoke any of the names of God." I did not say that the names of God don't exist or that you shouldn't mention them, nor did I suggest that you should go to Mark 11.24 and feel edified!


In fact, I introduced these poems in the Forum not because I thought they were my best poems but because I thought they might cast light on the antics of our dear imperious tailor/cosmetic surgeon Jeffrey Levine. The poems also come from very different stages in my own development as a poet and aren’t even in the same book. The only thing they have in common is the injunction, "believe in what you've got and really have it"--which is not so much a scriptural reference as it is a koan. In other words, it generates meanings in relation to situations, not doctrines.

I said Bushmen and Aborigines use ‘words’, not words. Also I didn’t say they necessarily "knocked down mountains," which would be a bit of a waste of time for people without clothes, back-hoes or property, but when they did do something "amazing," which I fully believe almost all such human beings can do given sufficient 'integrity' (focus? concentration? self-discipline? selflessness?),  they would never have done it just to impress people or entertain them or persuade them to give them a job!

Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
Monday Love
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« Reply #50 on: December 29, 2006, 10:30:18 AM »

Christopher,

You write: "All poetry is a tissue of references, isn’t it, and isn’t all language the same with its buried metaphors and fossilized detritus?."  I see you've read your Emerson.  Yes, I suppose 'all language is the same' and all that, but I'm not so much interested in what language or poetry is as in what poetry can do.   I can never forgive Emerson for his vague, impractical philosophy which essentially says, "All language is poetry and we are all poets."  Emerson is one of our famous predecessors who belongs in the Foet Hall of Fame.  Those who buy into Emerson's bloated, flattering philosophy are condemned to wander forever in a desert of poetic vagueness.  Emerson's gardener was smarter than Emerson.  I always take the "Sage of Concord" (especially since he was a full-time sage) with a very large grain of salt.

To be more practical then, and taking a cue from Master Pope, let us show up Jeff Levine by going right to the heart of the matter: lets us write a satiric poem entitled "Jeff Levine" instead of presenting poems with multiple religious and historical references.  The essay is a better form in which to explore multiple references; the short, lyric is not a good form for such work.

You obviously have a wealth of knowledge, which I wish you would give us--in prose.  You obviously write poetry very well; the only fault I can see is a certain belief you have that the brief lyric is a good vehicle with which to show off knowledge (hidden and otherwise) and I'm not sure that it is.

Are you familiar with the Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Franz Wright, son of the Pulitizer Prize winning James Wright?  Franz writes religious poems and these are in the form of extremely simple lyrics about himself. His poetry is sincere.  That's why I like the best of his poems (like most he publishes poems which are not very good).  One can tell that he did go through a lot of mental suffering to the point where there is a 'nakedness' to his work which contributes to his (at times) lyric, confessional excellence.  I like poems in which the veil is ripped and one glimpses the actual suffering person, sees the person as he or she really is.   In this sort of framework, one could never make any sort of relevant contributions to the state of Jeff Levine re: Foetry.  Franz Wright's poems are relevant to one soul only: Franz Wright.  Here is both their strength and their weakness.

What I'm trying to say, I guess, is that it doesn't finally matter what poetry is; it matters what poetry does, what its uses are.

In the small bit of what I have seen of you so far, I detect this 'in the wilderness' desire to confront and celebrate religious integrity from the top of the mountain top, and that's important and lovely and beautiful, but this sort of thing is not going to matter to Jeff Levine, because his 'integrity' or 'soul' is not the issue, really; in a religious sense we are all suffering sinners in the lowest valley together with Jeff Levine, but the purpose of Foetry.com is to fight the Jeff Levines, not commiserate with them, or, to feel morally superior to them: that's a religous issue, not a Foetry.com issue.  In this instance we require the steady carping of the satirist, or the insight of the detective, or the outrage of the good citizen, not the ecstatic wisdom of the priest.

Monday
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« Reply #51 on: December 31, 2006, 01:00:47 AM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"

  The essay is a better form in which to explore multiple references; the short, lyric is not a good form for such work...

You obviously have a wealth of knowledge, which I wish you would give us--in prose...  

Monday


Dear Friends,

This is the first Forum I have ever participated in and I've had to ask your help a number of times on practical matters like how not to lose posts and how to distinquish between real and virtual avatars.

Now I want to know how hard I should protest and with what frequency? Do the two little poems I posted to facilitate the Levine Enquiry really come over as exhibitionistic? Do they really show that I have a "wealth of knowledge," or suggest that I would be a good essayist? I don't mean my notes, whatever their quality, I mean my poems--because that's what Monday Love is suggesting.

You all need to come in here--I've said enough, indeed probably too much. There's no Christmas where I live, and January 1st is just one of the FIVE New Year festivals that is celebrated in my region, and the least of them all (the others are Thai, Buddhist, Hmong and Chinese).

In other words, I'm not punching my way through snow, eggnog, family or wrapping paper and am available to go on with this discussion. But the ball's in your court, surely.

I'll just add that after all your good work some of you still seem to read poems in order 1) to categorize them, 2) to cross-reference their references, and 3) to extract ideas from them that you can talk or write about. And this would seem to me to be the very heart of the 'foetry' malaise--which is, by the way, a new concept for me and one I'm just beginning to get my mind around--i.e. that academic poetry not only pays but draws in suckers like a pyramid scheme. Indeed, I think we all have to be careful that we don't robe the rhyming shyster ourselves--obviously the more 'critical' education we have the more likely we are to be cozy with the 'critical' bug!

So where are you now, Poetastin? I don't believe your persona for a moment, what's more your avatar, but you're one of the few that manage to critique poetry MFA-free! And sweet Matt with your celestial paintings, where are you?

Monday Love admires Franz Wright, both as a poet and as a person, and so do I. And isn't the issue always in ourselves, who we are, what we've lost more than what we've gained? Isn't that why we cannot accept the blips and blots of a Jeffrey Levine?

Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
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« Reply #52 on: December 31, 2006, 01:53:36 AM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"
Christopher,

You obviously have a wealth of knowledge, which I wish you would give us--in prose.  You obviously write poetry very well; the only fault I can see is a certain belief you have that the brief lyric is a good vehicle with which to show off knowledge (hidden and otherwise) and I'm not sure that it is…

I like poems in which the veil is ripped and one glimpses the actual suffering person, sees the person as he or she really is. ..  

In the small bit of what I have seen of you so far, I detect this 'in the wilderness' desire to confront and celebrate religious integrity from the top of the mountain top, and that's important and lovely and beautiful, but this sort of thing is not going to matter to Jeff Levine, because his 'integrity' or 'soul' is not the issue...

Monday


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Christopher Woodman
Bugzita
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« Reply #53 on: December 31, 2006, 02:07:33 AM »

ExPat,

It's a slow time of the year for forums such as this, so try not to take lack of response too personally. For me, Christmas was a bit of a drag, but I still had a lot to do, and my husband was sick (bad cold) and hobbling around with a bum leg.

I just have one question for anyone who's out there: isn't all (or most) poetry "exhibitionistic," at least on some level? Some poems are more flamboyant (T.S. Eliot = Liberace), than others, but all poets, and, yes, all writers, put their work out there in the hope that others will "see" and "get" it, at least on some level.

No?

I don't like to critique poetry because I feel as though I'm imposing my slant on someone else. My interpretation may be at odds with the poet's intention, and then the poet has to explain to me his/her intention. It can get sticky, especially among peers.

This is what I disliked most about teaching undergrad creative writing: how to offer a well-needed critique without crushing one's writing spirit. In the end, the writer has to decide the direction of his/her poem--I always worried that a young writer would make a change just because of a silly grade. I was always relieved when a writer stood up for his/her own work, even if I didn't agree and/or felt that the bad grammar, errors, etc. got in the way because then I knew that something exciting was churning in the gray matter.

And you, Christopher, have to defend what YOU believe is right about your poem, even as you keep one ear open for possibilities. The great thing about trying on new lines or even entire stanzas: if you don't like, you don't have to buy. Revising a poem IS a bit like shopping for new clothes; you get to try on all kinds of cool outfits, but then you can walk away without spending one penny. You can leave with your old Inspector Clouseau coat still on your back. But now you will know how you looked in that fawn, cashmere overcoat that would have cost you $500.00.

Hang in there, Christopher; keep coming back. After New Year's, things will pick up again.

Cheers! Bugz
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ennifer Semple Siegel

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« Reply #54 on: December 31, 2006, 07:43:25 AM »

Honestly, dear Jennifer, I'm not the least bit concerned about the lack of response to my poetry, but about the lack of interest in this dialogue. Because if, as Monday Love has implied, my poetry is about displaying my "wealth of knowledge," or that my poems are somehow charged with academic "references," then there's very little hope that anyone is going to be able to challenge the  'foetry' establishment. It's as simple as that--because I've never been in a writing workshop or MFA program or sat down with a 'mentor' in my life, and I don't even know what poets do in those sort of situations. So if my work is still infected by the 'foetry' bug, then what hope is there for anyone?

Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
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« Reply #55 on: January 01, 2007, 08:02:50 PM »

Quote from: "Expatriate Poet"
Because if, as Monday Love has implied...my poems are somehow charged with academic "references," then there's very little hope that anyone is going to be able to challenge the  'foetry' establishment....So if my work is still infected by the 'foetry' bug, then what hope is there for anyone?


I'm not sure I follow. Have we conflated 'academic poetry' (whatever that is) with foetry? Because that would be a mistake.


Quote from: "Expatriate Poet"
I've never been in a writing workshop or MFA program...and I don't even know what poets do in those sort of situations.


Once a week, they sit around a table and read each other's work. Conflicting advice is given, then ignored. It's mostly about the community, and the funding, if applicable.  

Quote from: "Expatriate Poet"
So where are you now, Poetastin? I don't believe your persona for a moment, what's more your avatar, but you're one of the few that manage to critique poetry MFA-free!


I hope I don't have anything so icky as an online persona. Believe me when I tell you I'm a U.S. male or female between 20 and 30 years old. My academic experience includes expulsion from three Texas schools. In one or two years, I may or may not pursue an MFA in fiction. My avatar depicts Buffy Summers, mythic heroine, who replaced my value systems after an existential crisis at age 17. Please adjust yourself accordingly.
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« Reply #56 on: January 01, 2007, 09:57:36 PM »

Dear Christopher,

You write: "I'll just add that after all your good work some of you still seem to read poems in order 1) to categorize them, 2) to cross-reference their references, and 3) to extract ideas from them that you can talk or write about. And this would seem to me to be the very heart of the 'foetry' malaise--which is, by the way, a new concept for me and one I'm just beginning to get my mind around--i.e. that academic poetry not only pays but draws in suckers like a pyramid scheme."

Christopher, there is nothing wrong with categorizing, cross-referencing and extracting ideas from poems.  This is just part of interacting with them, with reading them and experiencing them.  Comparing poems is a perfectly valid way of sorting out what we like and what we don't like.   The disease of foetry springs from the vanity of poets validating themselves and using academia and contests and prizes as short-cuts to that end.

John Crowe Ransom published an essay called "Criticism, Inc" in 1938 which was a plea for English Departments to create professional academic critics who could appreciate 'contemporary writing.'  Professors of literary history, he said, had 'nothing to say" about "contemporary literature," and reviewers outside the academy, he added, were not professional enough to review contemporary writing.  Ransom cited Professor Ronald S. Crane at the U of Chicago as having already implemented such a plan, and Paul Engle, a friend of Ransom's would put the plan into action more vigorously at Iowa with his Writers Workshop a few years later.  The whole idea sounds rather benign, I suppose, but look at what it is saying:  Professors of literature cannot be trusted to judge new writing.  We have to create critics in the academy who appreciate the new writing.  This is the germ of the whole foetry scheme.   Critics, writers, creative writing teachers become institutionalized and now validate themselves within the ivory tower.  The study of Shakespeare by disinterested professors and their disinterested students for the sake of literature itself, is now replaced with the study of Jorie Graham by Jorie Graham.  Helen Vendler, the new type of professor in the Ransom mold, a professor who can appreciate contemporary writing, exists for Keats--but also for Jorie Graham.  

Keats earned his fame outside the academy and is part of the record of literature based on impartial, disinterested critical recognition.  Keats belongs to the canon due to the accumulation of impartial judgements by critics and scholars, both inside and outside the academy, not because he knew someone at Harvard, or because of any connections he may have had within the academy.   Vendler, however, is having lunch and dinner with Jorie Graham--and, oh, by the way, according to Helen Vendler, Jorie Graham now belongs in the western literary canon with John Keats.  

Today the English Department of the University has become a cheerleader for contemporary poets who work and live within that very English Department.  The fox now lives with the chickens.  You've heard of instant karma?  This is instant canon.  The poet no longer has to earn fame and recognition outside the academy, but earns it from within.  Literary fame now requires 100% subsidy.  If no one outside the academy's walls knows or understands Jorie Graham, well, this makes no difference at all, for professors of contemporary literature (some who write and publish poetry as well, and submit and judge in the same contests Jorie Graham does) give Jorie Graham the seal of approval.  Contests are won, favorable reviews are written, chairs are earned, and canonization comes hard upon, without one impartial person outside the academy having anything to say about it.  This, in short, is the 'foetry malaise' as you call it.  It has nothing to do with 'categorzing poems,' but quite the opposite.  The sort of scholarship which compares and cross-references poetry from the past to the present is traded in for selective championing of contemporary poets in a completely non-critical environment based on friendships and connections.   This is not to condemn friendship; friendship is a wonderful thing; but you cannot have non-critical canon creation by academic insiders--it creates falsity within the academy's walls and complete loss and indifference without, for a strong academy is necessary for poetry; we cannot just say 'oh let poetry thrive by itself in the streets' for this isn't good for poetry either.

We need to attack this 'foetry malaise' on two fronts: 1) Pointing out the connections and the cheaters. 2) Honest criticism of the contemporary work itself, as historically-based as possible.

Monday
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« Reply #57 on: January 02, 2007, 06:23:13 AM »

Quote from: "Monday Love"
,

Christopher, there is nothing wrong with categorizing, cross-referencing and extracting ideas from poems.  This is just part of interacting with them, with reading them and experiencing them...

We need to attack this 'foetry malaise' on two fronts: 1) Pointing out the connections and the cheaters. 2) Honest criticism of the contemporary work itself, as historically-based as possible.

Monday


I'm listening to you carefully, Poetastin and Monday Love--and I thank you for your help. You say many things that are new for me and I'm very grateful to you for the crash course.

I was using the word "academic" to refer to something happening within the academic community alone, divorced from real life--the ivory tower syndrome in other words. I didn't mean to suggest that there was anything wrong with the study of history, philosophy or literature per se.

I was disappointed that you seemed more concerned with how my poems were written than what they were saying. Of course the two are related, but you never touched the earth these poems are springing from, or drank their water, never once. And that's a part of the malaise, isn't it, that we don't take poetry very seriously as a vehicle for expressing the truth anymore, or for changing the world?

So I would add a third 'front' for the Foetry campaign: 3.) Identifying and championing the best of contemporary poetry that doesn't win Foet prizes or get Foet grants. Would that be possible? And what would be the criteria?

I'd also challenge all of you to look back over the last few days on this site and try to understand why I posted "The Poet Orders an Icon."

Christopher
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Christopher Woodman
Monday Love
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« Reply #58 on: January 02, 2007, 10:03:18 AM »

Christopher,

I don't think we are ready yet for your suggestion: to 'champion' the best of 'contemporary poetry,' and I'll tell you why.   We are trying to get away from the 'championing' of poetry by a select few.  We need to get back to a situation where good poetry is recognized by the many, and becomes popular as a result.  Now, we shall certainly be glad to accept wonderful poetry by anyone who wants to write it, right here on Foetry.com--we have threads for that, and I do not object to you posting poems right here on this discussion thread, if that aids your discourse, that's beautiful, and if you become a famous poet because of foetry.com, that would be great, and who knows, stranger things have happened.

As you can see, the reform necessary in po-biz and in the academy is immense, and there's a lot of work to do.   I'm excited by the prospect, and we need all the help we can get.

I'll be totally honest; I do not understand "The Poet Orders An Icon," even while I recognize the high quality of what you are doing.   But do not despair.  All great poetry movements have been accompanied by prose tracts, such as Wordsworth's preface to his Lyrical Ballads, and my suggestion is do not be shy about providing prose glosses to your poems.  Don't hide your candle under a basket!   Don't despair if the age is not quite ready for your poems; you are the poet, you are the leader of your revolution; help us to understand them; do not test us, or tease us, lavish us with your insights!  Tell us what your poems 'mean.'  Life is short.  Cut the gordian knot!  Or, perhaps there is a critic out there who can illuminate us.  Either way, it certainly sounds like fantastic things are going on in your poems.

Monday
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hisper and eye contact don't work here.
Bugzita
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« Reply #59 on: January 02, 2007, 01:24:31 PM »

Christopher,

Somewhere, long ago, we had a thread in which we discussed foetry's "role" in furthering non-academic poetry, but we seemed to become uncomfortable with that notion because of the inherent danger of becoming the very thing we were trying to fight against.

Monday Love said,

Quote
I don't think we are ready yet for [Christopher's] suggestion: to 'champion' the best of 'contemporary poetry,' and I'll tell you why. We are trying to get away from the 'championing' of poetry by a select few.


I definitely agree with Monday Love here, though other members might disagree.

I admit, this offers a bit of a conundrum, but there you have it.

Bugz
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ennifer Semple Siegel

One must always question wrongheaded conventional wisdom.
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