Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Modern American Poetry

I'm teaching this seminar on "Modern American Poetry" this semester and it's been a while since I taught a class like this - ultra canonical, historical etc. But it's a really interesting activity - to read through the whole heap again.

It seems my take on Modern American Poetry seems to become increasingly tied up in Pound - he's there in Olson, sure, but also all over Berryman's dreamsongs (Pound asked Berryman to write the intro to his book, but rejected it for being too scholarly); and his anxieties (about decadence, necrophilia, degenerates, kitsch) are all over 20th century American poetry (either for or against, or some more interesting take on it). Likewise Olson's influence on Official Experimental Verse Culture cannot be underestimated: "objectism" and "projective verse," the emphasis on eliminating wastefulness ("one perception must follow" etc), the anti-kitsch rhetoric.

Also, of course my views of the poets change. Despite his ideas (which I find absolutely ugh), Olson is a fantastic poet. Moore just gets better and better. We read Moore next after Williams, and she totally overwhelms Williams for me (but not for my students); I mean I don't even remember reading him because she's so much more interesting (of course I never liked Williams much). And of course Berryman is so much more interesting than Lowell - though they have that theatricality, blackface, dramatic monologue (Browning) thing in common.


Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Gene Tanta is a wonderful young man and a seriously fine writer and thinker.

I met him at UW/Milwaukee a few years back, where he was doing his Ph.D. at the time. Then that night I gave the worst reading of my entire life. To one of my biggest audiences, ever.

2:49 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Wow, I've known Gene for more than a decade and Ive never heard/read any instance of anybody calling him a "wonderful young man"! You really are strange, Kent.

Mostly people call him "monster" and that sort of thing...


4:21 PM  
Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Well, it's true, I only spent a short time with him. He sounds more interesting than I even imagined!

8:43 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Moore is a monster! In fifty years people will be puzzled why she was ever rated below Pound or Eliot. They'll be wrong, those adorable fifty-years-from-now people -- Eliot is a bucket of gold dicks shooting lasers -- but their hearts will be in the right place.

11:47 AM  

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