When I read this by Reginald Shepherd (in an email to Josh Corey) -
"we are all in the wake of the Modernists, of Modernism, especially when seen as an international phenomenon. All the poetic avant-gardening in the past thirty years or longer has basically been a process of people rediscovering the Moderns, turning over the soil, if you will, and rediscovering things that had been buried or at least lost sight of." -
or this -
"Since I began reading poetry in the 1970s, I have always been opposed to what I saw as contemporary mainstream American poetry, because it was boring and because in its neglect of poetry's verbal resources it was out of the mainstream of English
language poetry from the Elizabethans through the Metaphysicals to Keats and the Modernists. These are the writers who made me want to read and to write poetry in the first place, whose work is still the standard by which I measure my own work and that of others. But historical memory is also something that tends to fall by the wayside."
- I feel a sense of kinship & an affirmation of what I've been doing with poetry all these years.
& when I read John Latta's remarks on modes of speech in American poetry, I get a sense of an active motivation - the will of the poets - underlying changes in style over recent decades. A motivation having to do with authenticity, relevance (against academicism, or imitation for its own sake).
& with these two blog-perspectives on the table, I can look back at my own short & long poems... with some irony, I guess. There's a Scylla & Charibdis... the danger, on the one hand, that one's devotion to the Modernists, & all that came before, will lead to stilted over-refinement (so apparent in a lot of the neo-traditionalist-formalist work of the 90s). The danger, on the other hand, that colloquial bluntness leads (usually) to mediocre writing. Poetry is not the same as stand-up comedy or tragic drunken caterwauling & free-verse self-pity.
Shepherd's comments make me feel part of a tradition. The partisanship of the schools & the cliques has always made me feel left out. One irony is, that there is more complex formal experiment & more multilingual slang in Stubborn Grew, & Forth of July as a whole, than in about all of the "post-avant" production put together. I am not exaggerating!!!! Contrast the Shepherd perspective with that of the polemical cliques. The cliques turn poetry into a game of Capture the Flag or "who do we mock today". They are the a-historical ones.