Reginald Shepherd, in his emails to Josh Corey, made a forceful statement, judging from its effects : lots of bloggers commented - & even John Latta arose to defend Ron Silliman!

Are we all complete idiots, to be so fixated for so long on "poetry & politics"? Or has this been a real unresolved problem in contemporary poetry?

It would be hypocritical to stand for some kind of ivory-tower aesthetic purism. Everybody knows that style is suffused with, & motivated by, politics, at least in the broad "cultural" sense of the term (as in, "identity politics").

Underlying the American style & theory wars of the 20th century stands a deeper, Janus-like trend : the popularization of literature (poetry). Janus-like because it involves both the expansion and thinning-out of aesthetic literacy. Everyone writes poetry but nobody knows much about its history. It's not longer produced by the few and it's no longer read by the many!

Perhaps, then, the character of one's approach to tradition is the main catalyst for producing the affiliations with particular styles or literary groups. (This is an attempt at a literary, rather than political, interpretation of such phenomena.)

I'm with Shepherd, by the way. Ideology tends to shortcut literary criticism.

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