Thursday, July 4, 2013

Addendum: Poetic Case in Point

On the Sunday after I wrote the previous blog entry lamenting the state of American poetry and indeed American culture in general, I found a case in point in the New York Times Book Review of the 30th of June (2013). In a review entitled "Extreme States of Mind" commenting on a new book of poetry by Frank Bidart, the following lines are quoted. These lines to me seem to perfectly illustrate the trend toward exquisitely-crafted, very personal and small-focus poetry, which I find sadly lacking in any larger commentary on our world and society. Here are the lines, from a poem called "Rio" :

I am here to fix the door.

Use has almost destroyed it.
would have had the same effect.

No, you're not confused, you
call. If you call you still have

Now you think you have
lived past the necessity for

Carmen Miranda
is on the TV, inviting you to Rio.

Go to sleep while I fix the door.

(end quotation)

I think this is very well-crafted, with intriguing elements, but I feel it does suffer from that smallness of focus and avoidance of larger issues that I mentioned in my essay. However, I do not know this artist's work and do not mean any across-the-board dismissal of his writing. I only mean that these lines seems to me to embody what I dread in modern poetry and culture.

I would be curious to know readers' thoughts on these issues.


Chas said...

You might find this review essay interesting.

"The editors imagine that what they are doing is collating the productions of alternative traditions that already exist within the poetic field, that subvert and threaten the field’s dominant modes of writing and thinking. Each of the above projects is explicitly predicated upon the notion that there is a “mainstream,” an establishment, usually figured as “academic,” against which the anthologized poets are bravely swimming. Hoover tells us that “this anthology hopes to assert that avant-garde poetry endures in its resistance to dominant and received modes of poetry.”"

The point being that there is no such thing as "avante garde" in poetry anymore; or rather that the avant garde is the academic mainstream.

Christel said...

This is fantastic!

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