|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #47|
Actually, if someone wanted to play devil's advocate and argue against the obvious, it wouldn't be hard to attack the article. On the one hand Edmundson complains about obscurity (e.g. he has "barely a clue as to what Muldoon is going on about", Carson is "so obscure", while others are "oblique" or "too hermetic", etc.). On the other hand he says modern poems "...don’t slake a reader’s thirst for meanings." What happened to the notion that poetry isn't about what you say but how you say it?
|Earl the Squirrel's Rule #44|
The contradiction about generalizing is not the [only] problem there. Apparently, Sharon Olds, Mary Oliver, Charles Simic, Frank Bidart, Robert Hass, Robert Pinsky are the only poets writing today. Any of us could name at least three poets on par with or better than some of those six. There is also this clumsiness, which should raise eyebrows north of the 49th, at least: "Anne Carson may be Canadian, but that’s no defense." WTF? Who would suggest that it should be?
I challenge anyone to read this article without asking "What f#*^$@g poets is this guy reading?!?"
Speaking of challenges, can anyone present a coherent, logical case in favor of modern poetry¹?
Of course, all of this is mere sophistry. If you want to make the case that modern poetry is lousy stop reiterating your premise, stop trying to buttress your general opinion with your specific opinions, and start talking about the consensus. Here are your talking points:
- "If modern poetry is good why, aside from the author, don't many read it and why don't any perform or quote it?"
- "Why do discussions about poetry invariably devolve into conversations about poets?"
- "Why are so few able to recite a single line of poetry written in the last fifty years?"
- "Why do so few poets show much knowledge of or interest in its elements²?"
- "Why has poetry all but disappeared from newspapers and other mainstream publications?"
- "Why concentrate on poetry written in order to 'get the fellowship, the first book, the teaching job' rather than poetry written to please audiences, including those outside academia?"
- "What has poetry done to regain some of its market share from what replaced it in the 1920s (i.e. music on the radio)?"
Of course, for those not in denial about poetry's current circumstances the only question is:
"What do you plan to do about it?"
¹ - Not to be confused with High Modern poetry.
² - ...something that is evident in every sentence and line they write.