Something on choriamb upsetting me again. This time:
“As politics and economies shift, so do poetics. In the past decade, American literature has begun to suffer the gradual die-off of the storied Generation of ’26. The loss of whole anthologies of writers born in and around that star-ordained year — including James Merrill, Denise Levertov, Anthony Hecht, Donald Justice, A.R. Ammons, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Creeley, and Thom Gunn — has left many American poets wondering what to do and where to go, poetically speaking.”
–Bradford Gray Telford
Bitch, please. O RLY. I really am feeling right now like a freakish half-creature: one part pissant pomo pleather-wearing ipod-blaring blackberry-toting thong-sporting chick who can only take her bluetooth out of her head for two seconds to say “Who?” and part manic avant-garde poet with a book in each hand, laughing her tweed-clad ass off at the idea that she’s sitting in a corner moping and crying because Allen fucking Ginsberg died ten years ago. I’m so adrift! What will I do without Thom Gunn to show me the way? Oh, yes, we young poets, so milk-fed and weak, were secure and warm when Uncle Allen was around to take all our risks for us–nevermind that at his most risk-taking he was writing twenty years before I was born, and by the time I was old enough to read him was pretty mired in his own back catalogue–but now–oh noez! What will we do? How can we possibly go on? WOE! WOE I SAY!
Yes, I’m so adrift. I’m lost, I have no idea where to go, because Creeley isn’t there to go before me. Don’t get me wrong, that class of 26 is an impressive line up, and in my day I have loved many of them. But come on. 1926. This is not the avant-garde anymore, and my first thought when Robert Creeley died last year was hardly: I KIN NEVR RITE AGIN!
Give me a fucking break. We are not sucking our thumbs and quivering in corners because a bunch of poets lived to a very old age and died. We are not lost–or at least I’m not–because Allen Ginsberg died a fucking decade ago. That is such an arrogant and conservative quotation, full of assumption that the white western canon of acceptable 20th century poets are stilts keeping the rest of us up, that we are nothing without them, that we could not possibly go on under our own steam without them. As if “many American poets” were only apeing that list of poets to begin with, and are now left with no one’s paper to copy off of, and the teacher will totally know they didn’t study now! God, most of these people were so sanctified and deified by the time they died that most young poets treated them as dead already, part of that canon, their works engraved in stone. It is such a smug indictment of my generation as unoriginal mealymouths who were never going to do anything but imitate in the first place. And that is just bullshit, my friends.
It’s like saying Ginsberg was lost and didn’t know what to do or how to write because Robert Frost and William Carlos Williams died. OH NOEZ! WONT SOM1 THINK OF THE CHICKENS AND THE WHEELBARROWS!1! WHAT ABOUT THE SNOWY EVENINGS, HUH, HUH??!?!1
Please. He kept writing, because he was a writer, and influences are influences, and you mourn and you move on. And frankly, though I’m certainly a bad poet for saying this, but many of those people were hardly my biggest bestest literary bookfriends. If anything, Ginsberg was an anti-influence, and Creeley and Levertov, though I admire them hugely, were doing totally different sorts of things than I do. These were not crib sheets that were suddenly taken away. And don’t get me wrong, the talent there is enormous, but by 2006? You’re talking about a pretty conservative batch of poets, writing in a more classical style than would be acceptable by most mainstream publications. They made their names before they went out of style, at least from the average editor’s perspective. I was never looking to Donald Justice to learn how to experiment.
Oh, sorry, I have to run and cut myself because I’ll never in my whole life be able to write anything that’s not a carbon copy of someone born before my grandparents. Also, someone ate my plums.