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Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.



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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Spook House" by Benjamin Myers -- Verse Daily, 5/12/2013

from: Lapse Americana
poem found here

 
first lines:
The first. I heard of Dante
was at the county fair when I was ten,

(Obviously, Verse Daily has shown us again their love for laxity.)

 

ideation, depth, and bombs


-- text added, 5/16/2013
-- reformatted to current style, and italicized text added up front, 9/23/13


Note: this post, and the comments that follow it, spawned a full-length essay on poetry culture posted to this blog: "#Poppoetry: The Unsurprising Culture of Poetry in the U.S." The essay can also be found on my website, here.


 

Another poem with a emotion bomb, here. It's probably obvious of what I am speaking: the single-lined, fifth stanza, "But there wasn't a war then." Though, unlike your most blatant bombs this bomb does have some ideational play within the rest of the poem. I still identify it as a bomb, however, because of the structure of the poem.

I'll start on why it is not a pure bomb (a line that has no or trivial ideational unity with the rest of the poem): the obvious presence of death throughout the poem: there is Dante's Inferno; there are the cars like gravestones in the sixth stanza; there is the suicide in the fifth; there is the drought and its dead grass; and there is the executioner; and, finally, the final lines:

as we watched our friends
before us disappear around a dark curve.

So there is a fudge swirl of death throughout the poem. But, there is still that the war line is one line, a lone-lined stanza, sitting in the middle of the poem all by itself, very much heavily accentuated by the structure. So let's explore:

First, take out the line. Does the poem significantly change outside of giving it an historical moment? In all the references to death, there is only one that can be said to engage a pre-war historical moment: that of the final image of the disappearing cars in the dark of the ride the Inferno. As such, the entirety of the "war" energies lies only in those two moments. Because of that, such things as the suicide moment lose their potency.[FN] Indeed, if you keep the war idea fully in mind while re-reading, the suicide moment feels quite out of place, as though the poem has a split identity: is it a war poem? or is it a mild suicide poem? (I don't think it can tell.)

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[FN] Indeed, if you take out the war line, is there anything else in the poem that engages the suicide moment? Is there anything about the drought that moves beyond basic scene setting? One could say the Inferno, but then really the drought just becomes a hell-like scene-setting: but still nothing more than scene-setting, since the Inferno idea is never taken anywhere.
-----------------------------

Or is it that the poem is only supposed to be a poem generally about death? and all the death ideas are supposed to be equal in power? Which is a possibility, but it fails against the fact that the structural isolating of the war line gives it so much power that it nigh demands to be the ideational locus of the poem. (And I do see the structure of the poem as stating that everything is meant to flow out of and into the war line.)

But then there is the problem with the reference to the Inferno. There is the bookended references of the fair ride, and then at the end there is the reference to the multiple translations on the speaker's shelf and desk. That reference, actually, is never flushed out. In fact, it is so thin it makes me wonder if Myers has even read the Inferno, or, if he did, whether he understood what it was. Because, in truth, nothing in this poem flows out of the nature and ideas of Inferno. In fact, when I look at the end of the first stanza:

and booths with stacks of old-fashioned
milk bottles: two dollars for
three throws and you could win
a mirror painted with the rebel
flag or with a half-naked lady,
or with a naked lady half-wrapped
in the rebel flag. [. . .]

I am rather taken with how much energy and time that one little moment gets. It's not like it goes anywhere: what does a naked woman and a rebel flag have to do with war? Or death? But that one scene gets more energy even than the Infernos owned by the speaker. In fact, it gets far more effort and energy than the contents of Dante's Inferno: and you would think that if the poem intentionally moves to emphasizing that since the time of the primary scene the speaker has now collected multiple translations of the work, then the text of the Inferno would actually have influence on the poem.[FN]

-----------------------------
[FN] And, in truth, the closing idea of the cars going into the dark of the ride -- in its metaphoric energies of death -- really could not be said to exist at all within the Inferno.
-----------------------------

Finally, it should be noted that there is a problem with the line that exacerbates the bomb aspect. A conjuctive "but" works in the idea of "X, but Y." So here, Y is "there wasn't a war then." What is the X? What in the previous lines sets up a "but"? With what can the "war" idea interact with through a "but"? In fact, the immediately preceding stanza is the suicide and drought. So we have

suicide and drought . . . . . . BUT . . . . . there wasn't a war yet

That is not a negative, but a positive: there was suicide and drought, yes; but at least there wasn't the war. Not exactly the idea that is meant to be carried forward into the final scene. (Or into a book on a desk.) And however I try, I cannot get the "but" to work any other way.

Let's bring it together. Hopefully by now you can see that while there is effort within the poem to have ideas flow into and out of the "war" idea, the poem itself betrays and defeats that effort in a number of ways. As such, the war line becomes a bomb: the single line's ideational and emotional energy works in an attempt to make up for the poem's poetic and ideational failures. (And if the poem was not meant to flow through that one line, the structure of the poem brings that in turn to failure.)

The curious thing is what if the war line were taken out? Let me refer you to another poem: James Wright's "Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio," which can be found here.[FN] It is a short little poem flooded to the fill with the ideas of ego and humility, in both their positive and negative aspects. And what is present in "Spook House" that is absent in "Autumn Begins"? The overt, anchoring statement. "Autumn Begins" is a powerhouse of ideational energy: precisely because it avoids explicative statements, and it weaves together, quite delicately, the ideas that are presented. Yes, it can be said that the "All the proud fathers" equates, in a way, to the war line in "Spook House." But the line is not isolated by the poem's structure (in fact, it is immediately brought into balance with the two following lines), and the line does not attempt to become a focus of the poem. The fathers, the wives, and the sons all play equal ideational roles; and, they all serve the ultimate goal of the unified poem.

-----------------------------
[FN] I am going to here talk about "Autum Begins" through an assumed stance of it being a perfect poem. I leave it to you to question just how effective is the ideation of "Autumn Begins." Though, you have to admit, it is a damn good poem.
-----------------------------

"Autumn Begins" is a great poem to intruduce the idea of depth. Depth in common parlance -- and by common I include MFA/workshop parlance -- refers to some emotional poingancy, or some socio-political statement, or some form a moral that lies beneath a text. In reality, at best, that nature of "depth" never achieves more than a second level signification (what Barthes talks about in Mythologies), or a pallid second level metaphoricity, or sentimental emotionalism. True depth, organic depth, aesthetic depth, is a depth that is best described as that ideational/emotional field created by the words of poem (or whatever work), that exists as an ideational field that does not lie in the surface of the words themselves.

And I am dissatisfied with that statement, but it will have to do for now. It's an idea difficult to paraphrase or make compact. But imagine if you will two forms of text, one each for the two modes of being/thinking/language, the aesthetic and the nomic. The latter functions as a plane: everything operates on the surface; and, if there is depth, that depth is merely a second plane lying on the first. The aesthetic, however, is better pictures as a sphere of finite surface area (the actual physical words on the page) with infinite radius (the ideational field of play created out of those words). Critical to this geometric metaphor is recognizing that the surface of a sphere has zero depth; and that the depth is not visible from above the surface.

Again, not really going very far right now, but I'm only beginning my presentation of this idea. So it is enough for now.

18 comments:

  1. Thanks you for your attention to my poem. I find your fixation on structural unity quaint. It seems as if you've read nothing on poetics published since The Well Wrought Urn. You might consider updating your poetics to include at least the last quarter of the previous century. You might not find postmodern poetics compelling, but some familiarity with it would perhaps at least save you from looking like an ass.

    But, I see you have determined to focus on "discussion, not argument and proof." I congratulate you on sticking so closely to your critical principles of groundless assertion and the avoidance of reason. I especially appreciate the bizarre ad hominem attack regarding my familiarity with Dante's Inferno. Only beginning from guidelines in which one promises to avoid offering proof could one assert that my poem's "failure" to become a simple retelling of the Inferno is indication that I have never read Dante's work.

    I'd recommend to you something you've obviously never read: the critical works of Randall Jarrell. Jarrell knew how to make stinging criticism grounded in something more than arbitrary, nonsensical vagaries about "structure." He also knew the difference between a sharp critic and just being a jerk. Of course, he also knew how to write poetry himself, something you clearly do not know anything about.

    I would comment further, but there are too many good books in the world left to read to waste my time on this. Besides, you have already amply demonstrated your ability to miss the point.

    Best wishes,
    Ben Myers

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    1. Yes, I missed the target in what I wanted to say as regards your knowledge of the Inferno. My intent was to say that whatever knoweldge or familiarity with Dante you had at the time did not carry into the poem (or, in turn, through to the reader). So my words ended up far more an ad hominem than a point about the poem. My apologies for that.

      In honesty, I am mostly unfamiliar with Randall Jarrell; but, then, no matter how much you try, plenty is still going to slip through the net.

      And I would love to pick up the conversational gauntlet as regards the idea post-modernist literature, but, well, . . . . perhaps another time.

      Delete
    2. [Augh! The last bit got cut off in the transfer --]

      Nonetheless, thanks for the comment, and giving future readers something of off which to bounce my original post.

      Delete
  2. Make that "thank you." Sorry about the typo.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think my response may have been too subtle for you, so let me put it more plainly: you know nothing about poetry and have no business commenting on what you do not understand.

    Let me, contrary to your own practice, offer evidence of that claim.

    Let’s begin with your ridiculous rhetorical question: “What does a naked woman and a rebel flag have to do with war? Or death?” [FN: if you are going to spend your time critiquing the grammar of others, you might want to observe the basic rules of subject/verb agreement. That should be “What DO a naked woman and a rebel flag . . . .”] Now, this is the sort of silly question one might expect from a student in a high school English class but hardly one worthy of a person pretending to be a serious critic of poetry. Your concept of unity is so narrow and wooden as to be absurd, as if every poem that mentions death must offer a death’s head in every line. I can well imagine the kind of mind-numbingly boring and predictable verse in which such a concept of unity must result. I honestly can’t tell if this narrowness is a result of, or merely augmented by, your very unsophisticated sense of theme. Your insistence that it must be a “poem generally about death” reveals an understanding of theme barely on a level with Cliff’s Notes. Not that a poet should have to explain his work, but, since you are so clueless, let me give you some hints in answer to your question. If you had bothered to think about the poem for a moment, it might have occurred to you that, rather than being simply a poem about death, it is a poem about the trauma and uncertainty of entering adulthood: the naked woman, the rebel flag, the suicide, the drought, the war all standing as emblems for that uncertainty regarding sex, politics, death, livelihood, war and other adult concerns.

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  4. This brings me to another bit of nonsense in your supposed critique: “And, in truth, the closing idea of the cars going into the dark of the ride -- in its metaphoric energies of death -- really could not be said to exist at all within the Inferno.” It is obvious to anyone with half a brain that this is a nonsensical and meaningless statement. What are “metaphoric energies of death,” and what does it mean for something to “exist” within the Inferno? That is just plain bad prose. If you are suggesting that the Inferno has nothing to do with death, then we need to revisit the question of who has or has not read Dante’s poem. As Dante (the character) travels deeper into Hell, he clearly encounters more and more death of the soul in the damned people he meets. To fully understand this, you would need a basic understanding of the Thomist scheme of being, which I don’t have time to explain to you, but a little bit of basic background reading about Dante’s intellectual context could quickly catch you up on that. My point is that your comment about the Inferno is entirely lacking in substance. But I’m getting sidetracked here, because death is obviously only part of what is meant by the “dark curb” in my poem. The image is clearly one of uncertainty. Think of Dante descending into Hell. Those of us who have read the poem know that he will ascend again into Purgatory and eventually Paradise, but Dante the pilgrim is not so sure. Of course, you need more than the Cliff’s Notes version of Dante’s poem to understand that.

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  5. Which brings me to your odd assertion that: “ it gets far more effort and energy than the contents of Dante's Inferno: and you would think that if the poem intentionally moves to emphasizing that since the time of the primary scene the speaker has now collected multiple translations of the work, then the text of the Inferno would actually have influence on the poem.” I don’t have time to address your crude and oddly synchronic sense of how a poem indicates emphasis; I can only suggest that you think more about how a poem works in time. I don’t know what else to say to this bizarre complaint beyond a guess that you are the sort of hack that believes that any poem that mentions Dante then has to be written in terza rima and adapt a Thomist theological viewpoint. That is a very unsophisticated understanding of allusion, of which I can only hope more reading will cure you. You might start with the Divine Comedy itself; Dante’s nuanced relationship to Virgil could be instructive.

    ReplyDelete
  6. In closing, please allow me to back up to the very beginning of your supposed critique, where you quote the first two lines of my poem and then add “Obviously Verse Daily has shown us again their love for laxity.” You really should be ashamed of yourself for this snide and meaninglessly vague comment. Do you mean to say that the lines are lax in meter? In diction? In image? There is no such thing as “laxity” without some field in which to be lax, some measure of strenuousness. To call something lax without specifying how it is such is, well, extremely lax criticism, the kind of thing that wouldn’t fly even in a sophomore literature class. Honestly, it is this bit of snide comment that gives you away more than anything else in your post as merely sour. I can’t help but conjecture that you are one of the all too common species of failed poet who, after suffering a few rejections, found it easier to blame the supposedly lapsed standards of contemporary literature – which will obviously never understand your great genius – than to buckle down, pay your dues, and work on your art. In short, your tone makes it clear that you are just another case of sour grapes: knowing you will never appear on either Poetry Daily or Verse Daily, you take it upon yourself to sit in your dark cave and mutter about those who do.

    I have wasted way more time than I should on this, but I feel that your arrogant and self-aggrandizing nonsense demands answer. My poetry is important to me, and so is good criticism. I can take a negative review – I’ve faced criticism from much better readers than you. What I can’t suffer in silence is a fool masquerading as an expert. So let me be very plain: you are neither a competent critic nor, at least in the persona you project here, a decent person. You appear to be merely that omnipresent species of internet worm who feels entitled – without credential and without competence – to snip at the heels of anyone whose achievement sparks your envy. You obviously have energy and a lot of time on your hands. Perhaps you should consider how to put those assets to some positive use instead. Maybe, if you read and study, you could someday be a decent critic.

    Sincerely Best Wishes,
    Ben Myers

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    1. If I may, I want to make only four points in response to your replies. Three of them are simply points of clarification. Only the fourth is really in direct response. There are many words below -- far more, probably than are needed. But, then, over-brevity is not one of my faults.

      1) As for typos and grammar: I make no claims that I am writing formal pieces meant for journal publication here. There is no money being made. There is no editorial board overlooking my writing. And, I am not writing 200 word fluff pieces that are easily grammar-checked. Grammar errors and typos will happen. Though I do here and there look back at posts and correct errors in grammar or wording or argument (and occasionally blush when I've really botched it), I don't consider it a sink-or-swim matter as to this project (either in my posts, or in anybody's replies).

      2) There needs to be a point of clarification made as to my words “Obviously Verse Daily has shown us again their love for laxity.” You've accidentally fallen into a very easy mistake because you've not read previous or later posts that give mention to this point. If you read Verse Daily with any regularity, you will notice that they have a serious problem with successfully transcribing poems without making typos or formatting errors. And the first line of your poem as it appears on Verse Daily has a very odd punctuation: "The first. I heard of Dante". Now if that was intentional, then it's my bad. (When I see such I usually look to see if the poem is elsewhere published to check.) Though, I think you can understand, considering Verse Daily's track record, why I would think they had yet again goofed it.

      3) As to the nature of my project here, as already said, I am not writing formal pieces for panel adjudication. My purpose here is to look at poems and talk about them in a way that will prompt people to think about poetry and poetics in more than a surface-limited manner. As such, I exaggerate, over-state, give twists, ask questions that point one way even though I think the answer lies in another direction, and (to re-use a phrase I just yesterday used in an email to a fan of the site) write things even while thinking to myself "I really want to like these lines . . . someone show me I am wrong." Now, I make no secret that I think contemporary U.S. poetry is in a nadir, and that the majority of poetry published (and praised) today is banal at best, plain bad far too often. (Simply look at my recent reply to Mark Edmundson's "Poetry Slam" article for affirmation as to this point, which I think is currently two post's back from the most current post.) But, then, I also believe that a degree of transaparancy is necessary to this project. Still, my primary energies here are to bring to question so as then to bring to thought.

      4) Finally, one thought in direct address to your comments. Your initial response rightly accused me of turning a moment in my post away from the poem and into an ad hominem attack. And, I as I said in response, you were right. I mistated. Yet, the far majority of the words in the sum of your replies -- including that first one -- are little more than attacks on my person. As such, it is a fool's game for me to respond to you. And so I will decline to engage your responses (even though I would very much love to explore your stated idea of "the trauma and uncertainty of entering adulthood" as it exists in the poem). Thank you anyway for the opportunity. But no thanks.

      Delete
    2. I apologize, then, for my misunderstanding of your comment about “laxity.” In my defense I will say that the snide and condescending tone of the rest of your post contributed greatly to that misunderstanding.

      As for your fourth point: you set the tone here with a post that is condescending throughout and entirely dismissive of a work you have not even begun to understand. If my response is thus personal in nature, it is because you have made it personal in the terms of your attack, not just in the ad hominem about Dante (though I thank you for the apology there) but throughout the post. If you could back up what you say with sound reason, delivered in a moderate tone, that would be different. As it stands, don't spit on me and act indignant when I respond in kind.

      I suspect you failed to consider that there might be a real person on the other end of the poem you decided to unjustly trash. You thought you could just spew your nonsense into the blogosphere and not get called out on it. You’ve simply failed to think humanely and responsibly about what you are doing. Well, I’m calling you out on it, and you are obviously unable to offer a defense of your so-called “critique.” In short, don’t shoot your mouth off when you don’t know what you’re talking about. You can’t excuse being a jerk by claiming you are just trying to start a conversation, just as you can’t hide ignorance by talking without substance.

      Look, I’m sorry if you think my response is too harsh. But someone really has to call you out on this b.s. Who knows, I might be saving you from stepping into an even worse mess in the future. Perhaps you should try changing your tone, trying a little humility, which is not just a form of basic human decency but also a prerequisite for any valid and useful literary criticism. You’d be surprised how much easier it is to start a conversation that way.

      Ben

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    3. Hmmm. Let me a minute on this.

      Delete
  7. Let me try that again: I apologize for the rudeness in my response. I, in fact, should not have responded in kind to your tone. I was unprofessional and uncharitable.

    To be clear, I still believe your analysis to be incompetent, and I would still urge you not to attempt public discussion beyond your capabilities, as to do so is unethical and damaging. I should, however, have approached the problem more delicately and professionally. I too easily get caught up in the excitement of argument. Please forgive me.

    Ben

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    1. [Long – so have to split it in two.]

      Well, I have been playing around the last days, tossing about words, thinking about what I want to do here and what I want to say, if anything. And I know now that I am definitely going to respond directly to the above, but in a new post, something new I'm writing up. It's quite a text up there, and I'm going to put it to use. But as for responding directly to you? I think not. As I said, it's a fool's game.

      Except that you've come on my turf with the above, and repeatedly called me ignorant and incompetent. Which I understand on your part. There's an ego to be considered. Because if I am in fact neither ignorant nor incompetent then it might be the case that your poem is not as spectacular as you want it to be. But there's nothing to be gained in defending myself. You have already amply demonstrated the merits of your argument, as is usually the case in such situations.

      But that does not mean I am not going to write about it.

      You see, I am not ignorant. Nor am I incompetent. And I know exactly what I am doing here: I am standing in the street, calling out the Emperor on his new clothes. And considering the dissonant defense you have offered above, it appears I'm starting to do a decent job of it.

      So, yes, I am going to respond to the above. What with the poem and your defense thereof you've handed too much a treasure trove for me not to dive in and write about it, to write about the performance of contemporary poetry by a contemporary poet. (That might be the title, there.)

      Indeed, I find it curious happenstance that this extended reply to my post about "Spook House" followed so closely behind the recent "Poetry Slam" essay in Harper's and what I wrote on this blog in consideration thereof a few days ago, especially as regards MFA culture (which is very much emblematic of the culture of contemporary poetry). For when it comes to it, if you look at the phrases in the replies, at the all-too-expected appeal to post-modernism, at the appeal to consider the feelings of the person who wrote the poem, it seems to me quite apparent that the real source of the energies of the above lies in the simple issue that I did not follow the rules and praise the poem like I was supposed to. After all, considering a poem so effectively performing just what a contemporary poem is supposed to perform, how dare I not perform as a reader of contemporary poetry is supposed to perform and praise both it and its author?!

      But that is exactly counter to what I am trying to teach here on this blog (and long have in my many elsewheres). I teach that to read -- and to write -- is to explore, to engage. I teach that when you approach poetry -- especially contemporary poety, and as both a reader and a writer -- you must not accept what is offered on the surface. Especially most contemporary poetry, whose conventions beg you (and demand of you) to only read what is on the surface. Here's the nutshell stance:

      Just because the poem is published; just because the poet is established, or has won awards, or is teaching what wherever; just because the poem or the poet is known, or popular, or passed about in whatever circles, does not mean that the poem works. You have to read it for yourself, and always be willing to say that the Emperor has no clothes. Only then can you begin to create poetry of your own.

      (I've said similar here on this site previous.)

      Delete
    2. [Part II]

      To be clear, I did not start this blog to gather admirers of my work or followers of my ideas. I've opened this site in hopes of finding fellow explorers in creating out of the written word. Not for persons who say, "I wrote a poem, a poem just like I'm supposed to write a poem; and it is enough that I wrote a poem in the manner I've been shown to write it for it to be worthy of merit. So will you now praise that act?" Rather, I am looking for persons who would say, "I tried something hard, something difficult: I strove to make a beautiful thing. I hope it's pleasureable to read. But even if it's not, even if it blows, I'd love to talk about it so that my next is better yet." There's far fewer of the latter than the former, I fear. But such is the nature of culture and the arts.

      And in case you are wondering about all these words when I said I would not respond to you, I am not responding to you. In fact, this is no longer about you at all. This is now wholly about the people looking in on your performance. And I see the stats . . . there are many.

      As for you, call me what you will. Assume what postures you must. I love how you've come to the conclusion that I'm some kind of frustrated poet acting out their vengeance. I am not at all sure how you came to that conclusion -- except, perhaps, in that you might must. In truth, I'm not now nor really have ever been that interested in publication. Though, I do have my meager list of credits: one poem, one story, one academic essay, and one conference paper. But I kind of like the symmetry of that, and it satisfies me for now. Indeed, most of my friends and writing acquaintances would say (and have chided me) that if I am not published it is wholly because I do not try nearly hard enough. And we laugh. When I do have the want to be published, when I have something I want to be published, it will happen. Until then, I would rather just share what I write, my silly things and my beautiful things I make and what not, with the people around me, people who I know will enjoy it. Or, as I have just begun to do, I will put it up on my website for others to enjoy. But, wait . . . what am I saying here in this too-long paragraph? Perhaps, simply, that in the end, I do not stake the quality of my work on whether or where it gets published. That, too, is a fool's game.

      Ooooh. that reminds me. I just saw this quotation yesterday on the Paris Review twitter feed: "I don't have an audience. I have standards." Wonderful, that. John Updike. I need to put it somewhere.

      (Aside: Just to say for those interested, I just put up on the site a shanty (of all things) that I've been working on these last months. If you want to check it, out check it out. See if you like it. If you don't, that's cool. It's not the kind of thing you see ofthen these day. (A shanty?!) It's here. I think it's kind of a fun thing to read. Perhaps someone else will try something like it. If it succeeds enough, I'd gladly start a collection of shanties. In any way, I'd love to talk about such. But I'm digressing.)

      Oh. Yes -- I was yet turned to the audience on that one, too.

      So is there anything left to say that can't wait until writing up the essay? (Keep tuned, it will show up here in a day or three, or four.) I don't believe so, except that perhaps I felt there should have been a touch at the end of the envoi. But I'll let it go.)

      Just to say, I will not respond here in this thread again, so I believe there is little point in you doing so. Unless you feel you must. And I can understand that, too.

      A.

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  8. It's pretty funny if you take me as a representative of "MFA Culture," but, of course, you wouldn't know that because you know nothing about me or my work. But, once again you know nothing about poetry either. You also might be interested to know that I am an actual critic, published by reputable journals not just my own blog, and I have written negative reviews. The difference is that my reviews were based on sound and reasonable standards, not just bitterness. You might check out my review of Mary Oliver's A Thousand Mornings, in the Jan. 13 issues of World Literature Today.

    Okay, so you admit that you have never published much of anything. You admit that you are merely a crank with a beef with contemporary poetry. Your only qualification is access to a computer.You have the bizarre expectation that you can behave rudely and then be treated with respect. Respect must be earned, and you have earned none.

    I do believe we are done here. I won't be back, and I won't be reading whatever bitter and vindictive little screed you are cooking up, and, honestly, with me no longing directing traffic this way, neither will anyone else.

    I bear you no ill will. I just hope you grow up.

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    1. For the sake of the continuity of the script I will let it be known I finished the intended essay -- or, at least, the essay is "finished enough." I think it ended up being a fairly decent exploration of ideas on the nature of the culture of poetry in the U.S., even if a rather long essay. (And, perhaps, a rather more academic essay than I anticipated.) Though, as with everything on this blog, it is put out there for exploration and discussion, in part and in whole.

      I have started posting it to this blog, and will (because of its length) put it up in five (or four) posts. The first one is up now:

      #Poppoetry: The Unsurprising Culture of Poetry in the U.S., Part I

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  9. I imagine that Anonymous (or Ben) would be a likeable person to meet under other circumstances, but given the tenor and tone of his responses here, it seems likely that a nerve was touched (and a very raw one at that). The whole exchange is interesting, and I could not be said to have understood Baumann's ideas well enough to "defend" them. But I've seen enough to suspect that it is not "all about Ben" but that Baumann is trying to approach some broader (or general) topic, and I look forward to seeing the successive installments as they appear.

    Not that I find the writing all that clear or easy to follow.

    Finding, however, a seriousness of purpose beyond "cooking up" merely a "bitter and vindictive little screed", I will do my part in trying to direct a little traffic this way, even though I may not possess the magnetic pull boasted of above.

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    1. Thanks. First part of the essay is introduction, so there's not much explaining. Hopefully things will start to gel in Pt. II. (It was a rather difficult (though common) issue in the writing: how much to explain in detail vs. this is already getting very long.)

      And, thanks for bringing people in. The whole point here is discussion, either online or amongst yourselves.

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