Friday, March 27, 2009

A good idea ...

... and Judith comments: UK poet laureate swears off 'no-good poems'.

Update: Someone posting as Rosenkrantz Guildenstern offers this comment: " As practiced in modern times, poetry is a discredited means of (supposedly) communicating aesthetic thoughts or feelings in verbal form." Does anyone have any thoughts about this that they'd like to share?

Update II: See Motion passed. And check the comments here.

Post bumped again.


  1. RG goes on to say: "Thousands, perhaps millions of person-hours, disc/server space, and trees are wasted to develop and store this tripe. Critically acclaimed poetry is usually the worst kind, representing the vilest outcome of combining incestuous art-cronyism with self-indulgent self-promotion. Today, poetry has all the relevance of Greek-style vase-painting." I'm going out on a limb here, and I'm suggesting that RG does not much care for poetry. Setting aside the tone of his (or her) ad hominem on modern poetry, he (or is it she) might have helped out by citing some exemplars of "tripe." Now, with that having been said, I would offer a different perspective by suggesting that we are unlikely to accurately judge any literature without having the benefit of looking backwards; in other words, contemporary poetry will be better judged by future generations. With that being said, I would urge RG to be patient. Time will tell.

  2. Hi Frank,

    RG was challenged to back up the statement that poetry has been discredited. Judith then asked for proof, and he responded: ". . . it is absurd that you should seek 'proof' for someone's opinion."

    In this context, there has been no discrediting of poetry. It has not been discredited, but merely opined against. Judith is right to challenge him on his misuse of logic.

    The questions I had when I went to view the thread, were: who had discredited poetry, and how was it discredited. At first I thought that even if a group of people disliked poetry, this does not discredit poetry for those who enjoy it. I had a back and forth with Peter Garner tonight. He quoted Emily Dickinson:

    A little Madness in the Spring
    Is wholesome even for the King,
    But God be with the Clown--... Read More
    Who ponders this tremendous scene--
    This whole Experiment of Green--
    As if it were his own!

    And I responded with a Rexroth translation of an anonymous Chinese poet:

    The cuckoo calls from the bamboo grove.
    Cherry blossoms litter the path.
    A girl walks under the full moon.
    Trailing her silk skirts in the grass.

    Others may discredit poetry as a means of aesthetic communication all they want, but for me tonight, I had to give poetry credit for allowing this aesthetic communication between and now among friends.

    However, before clicking into the thread, I then wondered if there had been a discrediting of poetry in the sense that a religion could be discredited--say the Catholic church or the fundamentalists of some religion. Or was it a discrediting of the current poetry, as if poets had taken poetry into a discreditable cult writing, sidetracking it from the important aesthetic communication it used to have. Or was I going to encounter a series of statements, posing as a developed argument against poetry, by some Dawkins discrediting poetry. This would explain why RG had said poetry had been discredited, what he was alluding to when he said, "poetry is a discredited means of (supposedly) communicating aesthetic thoughts or feelings in verbal form"--because of what someone else had said or written.

    So I was thoroughly disappointed in RG upon reading his response to Judith: "What sort of 'validations' do you imagine would make a difference, one way or another, in terms of proof? What measures do you imagine will convert views on a completely subjective matter into something approximating empiricism?"

    As for me, I was imagining a good argument that he could not possibly give.


  3. Logical fallacy number one: To complain that poetry is too subjective to argue about while rejecting its validity on subjective grounds.

    It's always hilarious to view anti-reasoning like that.

    Logical fallacy number two, as pointed out by Judith: If you hate poetry so much, why are you writing it? Could it be that you hate everyone else's poetry but love your own?

    Well, actually, there may be some truth to that. If one is bucking the current winds of literary fashion, one is often an outsider, is positioned as an outsider, and is tearing down whichever literary fashion is currently on the ascendant. That's a familiar tactic, it's what drives most avant-gardes, and rebellions. It works to keep things recycling, to keep things staying fresh, and continually rediscovered and reassessed; so it can work as a tactic to keep poetry alive.

    Logical fallacy number three: But a big problem with the post-avant, as some now call it, is that those poets want to be political/outsider when they have come to dominate the literary mainstream. They are All Avant-Garde All The Time. The problem is, you can't be an avant-garde if you're also the Establishment, which many of those poets have become. (Even to the point garnering many of the available awards and academic positions.) They want to have their cake and eat it, too—and to some extent, they've succeeded, if only by sleight of hand.

    So, if RG is objecting to that aspect of contemporary poetry, s/he might have a point. Or anyway, a point I would agree if, if I had any clue what RG is really complaining about.

    It appears to be nothing so organized or thought-out, however, but merely spleen.

  4. The comments here make sense; wait a minute, I have to make sure I'm on the right planet <*looks out window*> . . . Oh, okay, this is still Earth :) . . .

    Thank you, all three of you, for addressing and assessing exactly what I have been thinking and feeling about the original statements the commentarian made in attempting to engage yours truly in a war of words; and, if said commentarian weren't none other than the troll who's been banned from so many boards around the cyberworld, I might return and bring you all with me so you can crucify him and be done with his bullshit.

    IOW, Rosencrantz Guildenstern is none other than DerPrick Caterwaul who's a failed academic / illiterate (who cannot even spell disk/server space correctly, for shame) who hounds L. Lee Lowe, Edward Champion, Nigel Beale, Mark Thwaite, Frank Wilson, and, yep, you guessed it, yours truly, changing his 'nym thinking his style of attack and his illiteracy don't out him every time.

    He posts via Shaw Cable out of Surrey, BC, Canada, I am ashamed to say; and, he thought I hadn't figured out who he was; that's why I asked him about logical fallacies; it sends him into a rage every time; and, like Pavlov's snarlingest darlingest dog, he snapped.

    When Frank saw his comments, he concurred with me; thus, my final comment originated from precisely that premise. I only wish you had posted your comments on the other blog because they say so much that means so much to poetry, from R. T. pointing out that examples of "tripe" ought to have been put on the table (or, to take it one step further, that DerPrick ought to have connected his argurant to what the original post involved) to the delicious penultimate statement in Rus Bowden's reply to finally, Art, whose so solid in his utterly brilliant point-by-point annihilation I can only count the horseshoes on my arse I love the guy (and, I think he likes me, too; or, mebbe, I pray he does :)?).

    But, you three are making sense and telling truths that remain timeless. You said something, Art, about the Post-Avant movement on the post I made on Christian B. a while ago and I thought, Eureka. What I have often thought but not been able to to adequately and luminously express. All poetry sux, according to this guy, but his. Then, he says, he doesn't write about himself as all other poets do; but, man, he sure promos himself in a way few poets would or could or should stoop to do. You are so right. It's sleight of sham, all talk, no traction. I have nothing against the guy personally, don't know him, never met him, don't wanna, and hope I never do.

    What's the point of arguing with a neo-narcissistic after all, one who disengenuously announces, I don't write about me me me because I'm not that interesting; and, of course, that's so fucking passive-aggressive I can't even be bothered to hurl. They can howl into the void till the cows keel over; but, only the void responds, by being what it is, the void.

    Poetry is communication of an intense and compressed kind; what these tripe-types are doing is not communicating and calling it communication. Lip- and tip-schticks with mirrors (which never appear in my own poetry, a fact one academic interviewer noted, a fact I'd never noticed until I began to think about it; I am interested in WINDOWS -- er, not the Micro$oft ones -- not, mirrors). That's why I added, Objects in mirror are indeedly closer than they appear; they're fucking welded at the lip to themselves. Ick! (Who said money and shit were the same thing and those who had either to spare certainly play in the piles they accummulate down there.)

    Now, after seven posts total where I finally expose or out him as DerPrick Caterwaul, he's come back and decided to offer some fool's goad to me who's just said, Listen, Sonny, I ain't playing, I ain't taking the bait; so, he thinks I'm going to respond to his NOW understandable, that is, comprehensible, objection to what he feels Andrew Motion's complaint lacks. Hehe . . .

    You're welcome to have a go at it; but, it ain't me, Babe. It ain't me you're hooking for, Babe; however, it you see some failed Haiku "poet" going postal, Duck! It's a quack-quack attack :).

    Most attention he's received in many a moonbeam. Bet he's just grinning from thumb to bum. I sure as hell hope so; but, I got that scum and I R done like din-dins when it comes to same.

    Time for the one foisted on his own shittard to get outta the game before the police get involved; he might get away with his prantics on blogs not attached to newspapers of repute; but, some of the finest techies in the world are employed by The Globe and Mail and, they'll have his addie by the morning, I would think (with a warning filed to protect all of us who wonder when this guy's going AWOL for the duration, thank Keerist).

  5. I was slightly tempted to reply there whne I read it, but I thought "it's really not worth the bother". Silly person that (s)he is...

    But I wrote about it over at my place...

  6. One must credit Ron Silliman with coining "post-avant" as part of his Us vs. Them rhetoric regarding the divisions in contemporary poetry. Translation: "post-avant" means "everybody Ron like and approves of, him and his friends, including most of the Language Poets." This is placed in opposition to "The School of Quietude" or "SoQ" which basically means "everybody else." This is that political avant-garde stance which yearns for an Establishment to rail against, even though it's vaporous and nebulous in actuality. It serves Ron's rhetoric, and he occasionally makes some valid points. But it's an ongoing argument that yields little fruit; I am highly critical of it, and of much of LangPo itself, while still regarding Ron rather fondly as a person and thinker.

    But here's the thing: Ron Silliman is thoughtful, and provides examples to back up his arguments. I may not agree with him, but his position does have internal logical consistency. If you buy his kool-aid it's all reasonable and makes sense. It's just that I don't buy his kool-aid. (Although as I say I like the guy personally. We could probably have fun talking baseball and movies, for example.) So, Ron at least has a position, which he can defend, which he can argue for with specific examples. It's not just spleen; there's an agenda behind it, an agenda I don't particularly agree with, but which I can recognize as a coherent argument. So it deserves to be respected for that.

    It's more than just scattershot dyspeptic spleen.

  7. Right, Art. Your points hit the nail on the bed, with a hammer, ouch :). (An analogy? I came of age in the sixties; we were non-conformist individs, right? Riiiight. We all wore the uniform and grew up to do THIS to our world? We became the establish the moment we collected to rebel against it. McLuhan would call that a natural reversal, one as inevitable as breathing.)

    There also exists an agenda behind you know who; and, now, I see that, after Lee commented, he could not restrain himself and had to again jump into the fray and play dumb. (Troubling, that thought, ain't it?) He is dumb; he don't gotta play.

    He came back with a transparent attempt to deny he was who he wasn't; but, he's nothing, less than nothing, nix, nada, zilch, zero, zip. If he had balls, he'd use his own name and own his opinions. That's why it's a mug's game to keep trying to reason with a bogey-man who can't find his way out of his own self-pitying brown glue bagaboo.

    Now, there's a "real" comment; and, you know, I gotta wonder: It's Australian — and, after the mistake he made posting from his own timezone on the poetry review, a dead give-away he couldn't disguise — and, that name, I dunno . . .

    Everyone knows I worship Larkin, though; and, the comment's intelligent and I bet even our asshole could cook up a comment or two. But, see, I'm not going to bite because I am so tired of his lip-schtick, tip-schtick, prick-schtick. I'd rather eat a gun or finish the work I was supposed to do, just after I have a little lie-down. Man, these fora — hahahaha — they do grow on one, don't they?
    p.s. Thank you, LLL; you know I LLLove you :)