Tuesday, June 16, 2009

footnote to a footnote by Ron Silliman

>>>this appeared as a footnote to the entry for 10/23/07 in Silliman's omnipotent blog:

"If the surrealism of Robert Bly & James Wright was a conscious rebellion against the Boston Brahmin scene around Lowell, the soft surrealists – who emerged after Tate’s sublime first volume, The Lost Pilot – represented a kind of rapprochement. The three who matter are Tate, Simic & Bill Knott, tho one can detect its influence to this day in the work of, say, Dean Young."


I've noted earlier [on a prior blog] my admiration for and envy of Silliman's energy and erudition as expressed almost daily in his blog . . . his enthusiasm and wide-ranging intellect seem awesome. I don't often agree with his opinions about poetry, but c'est la vie I'm always interested (sort of) to read them . . .

High-minded, serious, assiduous, thorough, scrupulous in detail, but even he nods at times, and sometimes he simply doesn't provide enough background info or context for his readers, and the quote above is one example—

most of his readers will recognize the names he mentions: Bly and Wright are internationally known, and Dean Young is famous for being the eminent featured star of Poetry (Chicago) Magazine's monthly "Comedy Issue" . . .

James Tate and Charles Simic are Pulitzer and National Book Award poets, winners of the Wallace Stevens Prize, their work can be found in the Norton, etcetera etcetera, they are two of the most successful poets alive—

but who on earth is this "Bill Knott"?!

Silliman says: "The three who matter are Tate, Simic & Bill Knott . . ." He states this so matter-of-factly and straightforwardly as if he assumed his readers will know who these three are, and of course most will indeed know who Tate and Simic are, won't they,

because Tate and Simic are successful honor-laureled poets, and ergo they "matter."

But Bill Knott? Hunh? Knott has not won such awards nor any of that and Knott will not be found in the Norton nor any other anthol-covering-the-period . . .

Knott is not only not In Print, in fact Knott is humiliated degraded and abjected into suffering the most malvolio'd disgraceful and loathesomest fate any poet can have thrust upon 'em, i.e., to be a "blog poet"!

Contra Silliman, Knott does not and in reality can not "matter" . . .

The syllogism is irrefutable: Tate and Simic matter, their prizes prove it: since their prizes prove they matter,

then Knott's lack of prizes proves he does not matter.

Matter is logical, matter equals Aum squared, and the matter is closed. Matter of fact.