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Poetics and Poetry Discussion


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Jefferson Carter Jefferson Carter Male, 91, United States (5/30/2014 1:49:00 PM)

A little poetic kerfluffle is happening on Facebook, a conflict between those who adore Angelou and those who think her poetry is mediocre (among whom, of course, I count myself) . Here's one comment:


Marc Hofstadter: I've devoted my entire life to poetry- writing it, reading it, teaching it. I've published five books of it. It is my passion. It is my educated opinion that there were about 20 major poets in Angelou's generation, all greater than she: Creeley, Levertov, Rich, Schuyler, O'Hara, Koch, Ashbery, Duncan, Ginsberg, Snyder, , Bly, James Wright, Hugo, Clampitt, Merwin, Wilbur, Kinnell and several others. These were/are not pretentious or elitist; they were complex, intelligent and yet moving figures in the tradition of American and English verse. One does not understand one of their verses without putting in something of an effort, much as it involves effort to understand Shakespeare or Milton or Keats. Maya Angelou operated on a much more superficial level. I do not mean to deny her importance as a role model or as an influence on the general culture. But it galls me to see other, more major poets totally ignored by that culture while she is lionized.

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  • Rookie - 696 Points Dan Reynolds (5/30/2014 5:22:00 PM) Post reply | Read 1 reply
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    I don't understand why an intelligent person would find it difficult to understand the rules of popularity. Watch any one of the many, current TV talent competitions. It only takes a few viewings to detect the formula adopted by the creators and presenters. They would willingly sacrifice any number of genuinely talented artists, in preference to a mediocre ability, neatly and sweetly wrapped in a sob story. These shows are financed by the gullible votes of the uninformed majority. But, hold on a minute. Isn't that the idea behind democracy?So if it turns out that the majority like pish, does that not make pish, the pish of choice. Look, in all honesty, " Public Popularity" is coveted by the governments, the businesses and the entertainers of every nation and culture. International recognition of, and critical acceptance and endorsement of any artistic talent, may help to boost sales of a truly talented poet/writer, but sales are the measure by which the publishers dictate who will be pre-booked for further publishing(s) . Mr Hofstadter may have devoted his whole life to poetry, but perhaps he should have taken into account that the majority of people in the poetic circle, are amateurs, novices and dreamers, wrapped in the romanticism of the rebel, who couldn't give rats-arse about the ruminations of the academic fraternity.
    I once posted a poem which brought some wonderful warnings from the late Michael Shepherd, where he told me not to dumb down for the audience...; ¬)

    The bonfire of the profanities?

    My first is in Flipper
    And also in Fish
    My 2nd’s in Ulster
    And…..
    (“Can you guess what it is yet?” said Rolf)

    When I'm in the store, with the store men
    we curse our heads off.
    That's the way we talk
    When I'm in the office, we use it
    sparingly,
    going more for innuendo than outright filth.
    When I'm with upper management,
    It can be the store or the church
    When I’m backstage, before the gig
    It’s like being in the store... times ten

    On stage, we have to gauge

    At home, the question never arises.

    And as I tailor my language,
    to communicate with each scenario I encounter,
    I feel not one shred of hypocrisy.

    A wonderful thing, this language of ours

    Do with it, as you will
    But leave my multi-linguality alone.
    Comprendez?

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    • Rookie - 696 Points Jefferson Carter (5/30/2014 6:17:00 PM) Post reply

      D, not a bad poem. I'd cut a little of that dead wood, but that's just me, the lumberjack. My only question about your comment on popularity is about " ruminations of the academic fraterni ... more

  • Rookie - 318 Points Jim Hogg (5/30/2014 3:47:00 PM) Post reply

    He surely meant to write " 20 major American poets" ....

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