Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ron on Joe Wenderoth

[I wrote the following comment on Ron's blog in response to a shocking misreading of Joe Wenderoth's new book, proving once again my theories about the monoglossic nature of much "experimental" poetry. Also it shows a strange misunderstanding of "quietude." Now I have often defended Ron's notion of quietude, but could it be that I totally misunderstood him? Or is it that Ron has no idea about quietude, other than it's what he doesn't like?]


Your misreading of "Twentieth Century Pleasures" is shocking. How on earth could this be "quietude"?? Your statements that the piece is "overwritten" "cliche" and a "clunker" are so normative and workshoppy. The proof is in the pudding: this clunkiness is the very anathema of quietude. Your reaction suggests you have much more in common with quietude than you would care to admit.

Look at the title. Could it be that we are in the realm of the intentionally tasteless? The narrative is of course over-the-top! Down syndrome, abuse, deafness. I read the end as a tasteless joke.

All of your language betrays an incredible amount of elitist aestheticism - it's tasteless, it's for a beginning audience. It's no *artful* enough. I am surprised that you have no self-awareness about making such claims.

But this is at the core of a poem like this (in difference to the other examples which seem far more lyrical, far more acceptable by quietist standards).

Perhaps you are right, this would make sense to an audience of non-specialists, who do not know that art is supposed to be smooth, lyrical, perfect, well-wrought; who are not officers to protect the purity of expression. Clearly it does not make sense to this specialist (you) who wants his poetry to be elegant.


Blogger Matt said...

I think sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between tasteless and intentionally tasteless.

11:50 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...


I read your comment on Ron's blog. I don't think Joe's poem is insincere or sincere; both of Mark's possibilities I think are wrong. It's certainly not sarcastic either. These terms I think don't work for this poem. The same applies to the tasteless discussion. My point is that this poem demands another framework.

4:48 PM  
Blogger mark wallace said...

Sorry I can't go with you on the Wenderoth poem, Johannes. I guess one person's feeling of unsettledness is another's feeling that he's seen other work that does this better. Ah well, life can be that way.

4:27 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Well, I don't think it's the best poem I've ever read, not certainly the best poem by Wenderoth even. However, I think that the frameworks used in the Silliman discussion were mostly way off - like using a ruler to determine sound volume.

9:41 AM  

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