[lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72 page 2

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 13 Oct 2006 02:12:09 -0400

Mike: schooling or the study of poetry can be and often is
antithetical to the soul of poetry and it's appreciation . .
. . for God's sake don't cheapen poetry by making it a
vehicle for cultural propaganda -- I mean 'values.'             

Eric: Last first. The sonnet is cultural propaganda, so is
learning how to scan a line (several ways for the same line,
if need be). Having a poetic project is cultural propaganda.
Arranging your poems in a book by certain themes is cultural
propaganda. Every technique of American poetry is cultural
propaganda. ItÂs good propaganda because it tells us who we
are and where weÂre going. ItÂs good because itÂs the very
essence of technique, the thing you praised in your previous
post. ItÂs good because when you learn it you can forget it,
but if youÂve never learned it, you have to discover it
sloooooooowly. [Insert image of snail leaving trail across

Instead of apprenticeship to poetry, we have an
ultrademocratized easy-and-fun-for-beginners approach, based
on a sense that students can never be wrong.

Mike: You sound as though you believe poetry is a hieratic
pursuit.  Poets, priests.  T. S. Eliot, indeed.  Give me
Ginsberg yawping for Ike to go fuck himself with his atom
bomb any day of the week. You beweep the lack of
apprenticeships to poetry  -- what the hell are you talking
about, they're a dime a dozen.  Every university in the
country has MFA programs in creative writing.  What we need
is LESS official meddling in poetry, not more.  

Eric: The criticism of MFA factories is that they are not
really apprenticeships, but rather standardized platforms
for turning out a standardized product. Every fiction MFA
writes a New Yorker story and every poetry MFA writes a New
Yorker poem.

Ginsberg had an apprenticeship with WC Williams. Read
GinsbergÂs fawning letter at the beginning of WilliamsÂ
_Paterson_, and see how it reads like any aspiring artist in
search of training from an established master. In later
life, Ginsberg taught poetry at Brooklyn College. Even
though this was just his way of being surrounded with young
males, smoking pot with them every Friday night, and trying
to hit on them, Ginsberg did have a mentor effectÂ-at least
according to the couple Ginsberg students IÂve met.

Yes, we need less official meddling in poetry, but we need
more serious apprenticeships.   

Mike: This all started with Lawrence saying he didn't like
Berryman's poetry nearly as much as he used to after reading
Berryman's biography.  That's absurd, I said.  Berryman's
life should have absolutely nothing to do with whether you
like his poetry or not.  A poem is NOT the poet.

Eric: CÂmon Mike. You read about a poet and you understand
her voice better. You read about a poet and it makes you
more curious about the poetÂs body of work. Reading
_HumboldtÂs Gift_ made me want to read Delmore Schwartz.

Mike: From there it morphed into what was the poet's intention or meaning in writing the poem. Lawrence insisted that such was essential to understanding the poem. I screamed YOU CAN'T UNDERSTAND POETRY, you can only experience it. What is the meaning of Beethoven's Sixth Symphony?

Eric: The meaning of BeethovenÂs Pastoral Symphony is
BeethovenÂs Pastoral Symphony. However, you CAN learn to
understand it better. For example, you can understand LBÂs
use of repetition, the way he starts with a partially
developed theme rather than stating the theme at the outset,
and so forth. You can understand the way he built the
symphony, his programmatic intentions, and so forth.

You are conflating two types of meaning: technical
significance and ultimate meaning. The first is subject to
understanding and objective assessment; the second is
personal and transpersonal.

Regardless...IÂm not hostile to what you write. I enjoy it.
Given the vehicle of E-mail, we can only investigate each
otherÂs love and understanding of poetry by taking this
debating stance.

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