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Sunday, September 19, 2010

A Discourse on the Dead

I'll never forget William Carlos Williams' assessment of the state of American poetry in his great American long poem, Paterson--the brief and coldly gathered, "American poetry is a very easy subject to discuss, for the simple reason that it does not exist." Even if that actually carried a hopeful, albeit snarky tone when it was published in 1946 (though I doubt it), when I read it in the spring of 2007 in a castle situated on a promontory of glacial till, I couldn't help but read it in the contemporary context. The simple conviction of those few words seemed to completely expose the decrepit state of poetry as I found it then, and I've since repeated the line to myself and to others when the subject of "American poetry today" is broached, because basically I feel it's still true.

I'll be interested to read Ben Lerner's contribution, seeing as he's just been brought on to teach workshops and tutorials at my alma mater.

Of these first three contributors, I prefer the way Silliman slices it. Viva Neo-Modernism!


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