I have to contest Ron Silliman's version of poetics & literary history again.

Yesterday he offered his favorite dichotomies: 1. between establishment (School of Quietude) and experimental (New Americans); 2. between hermetic (trobar clus) and popular/vulgar.

The New Americans are figures in a heroic melodrama.

What is obscured here is that the relation between art and audience is an ever-present, unresolved challenge. Neither did the supposed establishment poets entirely fail, nor do the supposed experimentalists entirely succeed. The two idioms or approaches - if we want to grant, for the sake of argument, such a simplistic dichotomy - are more alike than different. The New Americans opened up some new avenues for making and presenting poetry; in the process, they closed many other avenues. This is not to deny that there are historical periods of extraordinary artistic flowering; but these usually happen through processes of absorption, osmosis, and adaptation - not the simple rejection of one school or adherence to another.

The second dichotomy represents a huge error. Hermeticism is a minor aspect of poetry in general, not the pivot of historical change, not a central measure of quality. Silliman uses trobar clus to set up another hierarchy : his hierarchies and groupings are useful if you are in the business of promoting large swaths of mediocre poetry.

The major poetry of most eras emphasizes clarity, simplicity, capaciousness : firm literary values upon which the poet can build those chordal layers of connotative meaning and feeling which are capable of moving an audience.

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