Thursday, November 09, 2006

Ron Silliman

OK. I'm going to say one more thing about Ron.

In an entry from two days ago concerning his youth, Ron reveals that all the "crowning achivements" (Who uses tropes like this??) of 20th century poetry were written by American poets.

At what point does his intellectual insularity become so obvious that he notices it?


Blogger Unknown said...

I use tropes like this. And all of the crowning achievements of American poetry were written by American poets. Which was the context of what was being said.

5:58 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...


I don't want to quibble about details, but here's what you wrote:

"Grenier was right in the middle of writing the great works that would eventually make up Sentences, which to this day I would still rank as one of the crowning achievements of 20th century poetry, right alongside Tender Buttons, Spring & All, “A” or The Pisan Cantos, the best of Creeley, the best of Olson, Duncan’s Passages, or Ashbery’s Three Poems."

Not "20th century American poetry". Even if you did mean that, I still think it shows insularity - that you are interested in isolating a certain kind of pure American poetry.

I didn't for a second think you meant "American poetry" because you so consistently display insular tendencies.

In this I go back to various other statements you've made - most recently about English poetry. That somehow there is "an american ear" that can't hear English poets, that translations must be written by "native speakers" so that they don't sound "foreign." Poets have "good ears" if they sound "right" to you. These views suggest an insular, obsessively monoglossic view of language and literature. A view that is interested in establishing centers (of language, literature).

Your discussion of foreign (as well as American!) poetry is too limited, to tied to your reductive classificatory system, a mode of reading that covers up and restricts, rather than discovers an decenters.

As for the crowning trope - one thing that has turned me off from your blog is this consistent obsession with absolutist, hierarchist claims. What does "crowning achievements" lead us? Do we live in some kind of a-historical, Victorian wonderland (or worse, H.Bloom-land) where we can simply pick the peaks of our craft? Is this a useful activity?

To me these kinds of pronouncements are as bad as the New Critical games (or Lowell & Co's "who's on top"). They create hierarchy and worshipfulness rather than active engagement.

It is unfortunate that you have gotten into this rut since I think it's great that you do take the time to write about young poets, and you do take the time to actually write substantial entries (which I don't, to be fair). I also know that a lot of students here read your blog - that is good because they are introduced to contemporary poetry outside of the lame anthologies and APR, but it's bad because you perpetuate this hierarchical, monoglossic rhetoric.

9:02 AM  
Blogger François Luong said...

I find it extremely disingenous to say that "the crowning achievements of American poetry were written by American poets." Well, yes, of course, it should be obvious that American poetry is written by Americans, whatever being American is supposed to mean.

5:11 PM  

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