Friday, September 21, 2007

At least it's not outsourcing ...

... Internationalizing American Poetry? (Hat tip, Rus Bowden.)

I've spent some time with Charles Simic and he seems pretty American to me, even if he did start out in Yugoslavia. We are an immigrant country, after all.


  1. "Is Muldoon’s appointment (or Simic’s, or Maxwell’s) really an example of a new internationalism in American literature or something less dramatic?" -The Chronicle

    A. The east coast cabal's disdain for American English?

    B. New York's inability to recognize the rest of America even exists?

    C. The rest of America not caring very much how the east coast pats itself on its back?



    "My vote's on C"

  2. Once again, Blue, in an astonishing convergence, we agree. This has come home to me especially over the past few days as I have been re-reading Kerouac - not On the Road, but Visions of Gerard, Satori in Paris and just now The Dharma Bums. Kerouac's prose has a distinctly American flavor, that is, the flavor of American speech as millions of Americans actually speak it, as opposed to how they learned to write it in school.

  3. Anonymous8:40 PM

    My money's on (D) -- the fact that "the rest of America" has thrown it's lot in with the infantile poetry of people like Ted Kooser. Seems that the poetry flyover country rewards is sappy, easy-to-digest, joke-and-a-message Billy Collins.

    If that's the poetry you reward and promote, don't be surprised when people who actually care about the art look elsewhere. There are plenty of fantastic writers out here in the Midwest, but none of them receive the support and popularity necessary for them to reach the New Yorker's notice.

    Meanwhile, the Irish -- and the Eastern Europeans, for that matter -- care a hell of a lot more, and a writer as tricky as Muldoon or Simic has a chance for acclaim.

  4. Well, Simon, poetry's house has many mansions, and I think there's a place for Kooser and Collins (and I know plenty of people in East coast cities who love both). As I have said before, I am very latitudinarian when it comes to poetry. I prefer a poetics that is descriptive, not prescriptive. There are lots of different poets writing lots of different kinds of poetry. Not all all of it appeals to me and what appeals to me might not appeal to you and vice versa. Time will do its winnowing.

  5. So if one likes Kooser or Collins they don't "actually care about the art"? Wow, what a tuffy you are Simon. You can't see any cleverness in Selecting A Reader by Kooser? Ever seen any of the animations of Collins' poems. All too childish for you, huh? I mean, infantile, right? You're a snob Simon. I'm told there's treatments for that.

    Muldoon and Simic have chance for "acclaim" because they're part of the east coast cabal. Period. It's OK for them to acquire "acclaim" from their brothers. The rest of us don't really care what the east coast cabal's up to. Or shouldn't. They've made themselves pretty much irrelevant to those of us buying the books anyway. Just ask 'em. They've been crying for years about how few books they sell to us. And it's true. Their only audience are their brothers. It keeps 'em happy, I suppose. I mean, they seem happy, right?


  6. Anonymous1:56 AM

    I have no idea what a "tuffy" is, but to tolerate Ted Kooser's verse requires either bad judgment (Beau) or aesthetic relativism (Frank.)

    Perhaps the stab at Collins was unfair. I've enjoyed reading some of his work. But it's like rubbing alcohol, it evaporates right off the page. There's nothing there, a bit like an episode of Friends.

    Judging poetry doesn't make one a snob. Rambling on about "east coast cabals" does.

    For the record, Muldoon's fame in the States came late. It was Ireland and the British Isles that provided the overwhelming bulk of his readership for large chunks of his career. Please adjust your cabal theories appropriately.

  7. No need to adjust my theories, Simon. My money goes to mid-west and western publishers. Call it bad judgment if you must, but it's my money.

    Have a pleasant day, week, month.



    "A snobbish thing, sending money to Minnesota?"

    "Simon says, so it must be true."

  8. The poetry boards are discussing this topic also. Here is a link to one, that links out to the others:

    FreeWrights Peer Review: Shouldn't American poetry be internationalized?

    Most of the forums you can simply click and read, some need signing in, and some are member only, the latter in the rarest case.


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  10. Anonymous5:25 PM

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  11. I can understand modern writers. In order to succeed in their native sector they try to add some foreign spyces in their writings. Sometimes they bring some freshness, but sometimes they become too foreign.