Thursday, June 4, 2009

matthew dickman

Some pobloggers are so hostile and condescending; their arrogant academic attitudinizing scares away many potential readers:

According to [insert the name of whatever experts you click to],

I can't for example simply enjoy reading Matthew Dickman's verse,

no, I have to prove its merit, I have to present a "critical argument" to justify my admiration, i have to try to persuade those opposed:

screw that—

I refuse to apologize or offer "critical discussion" to justify or authenticate my preferences and pleasures——

and if that means I'm not "serious," so be it.

>some thoughts from my blog of three years ago (I was writing about Olds, but since Matthew Dickman is in the Olds mold, I think it's relevant):

I don't see anything wrong with writing about one's self, though it seems like there are always those who stand ready to condemn the poets who do it too passionately (re Olds).

Sadly this type of poem has now fallen into disfavor—not with the larger poetrybook-buying public, but with a growing segment of younger poets.

The first-person narrative, the realist-autobiopoem of Olds and Levine [add Matthew Dickman to this lineage], has been subverted and refuted and or ignored by many younger poets.

These new poets know they've grown up into a regime where poetry is ruled over by Theory, where the poem is a slave to Poetics.

In the ancient quarrel between poets and philosophers, the balance of power has shifted to the latter:

"[T]he philosophical critique of poetry is ascendant. In the provinces of literary criticism, Plato's heirs have apparently won out." (Mark Edmundson, Literature against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida / A Defence of Poetry).

These poets have internalized this cruel critique and sublimate it via the usual strategies of auto-punishment. Snatch the whip from Master and lash yourself.

In any case their seemingly-on-the-surface-disparate modes of servile irony have to a certain extent seized the floor. The Confessional poem has been pushed offstage.

I'm glad to see the return of the Levine/Olds style poem as exemplified by Matthew Dickman,

and I applaud Tony Hoagland and Marie Howe for bringing him to the attention of readers like me who will appreciate and buy his book——

If the success of Matthew Dickman indicates a trend back

to the modes of Confessional poetry,

what good news . . .

Hopefully his courage and genius will embolden others of his generation

to stop writing poetics and start writing poems.

in the TLS (p.16, April 17/09), Hugo Williams relates how Ian Hamilton, in one of his USA pobiz-crawls, encountered, quote:

a certain professor who had gone on about the work of Clayton Eshleman. "Just a tremendous poet", he said. Surprised by this, Ian asked for the title of a good poem by Eshleman. "Oh, I don't know", said the professor. "Taken as a
whole, you see. Just a tremendous poet." Ian insisted on knowing the name of a single decent poem so he'd be able to understand what the professor was talking about. "Oh for God's sake", the man said. "What is this anthologist's approach to literature?"

see the advocates of poetry—call them "the professors"


the advocates of the poem—call them "the anthologists"

as one of the latter, i am as amused and bewildered as Hamilton was

by the poetry-profs . . .

for "Eshleman" you could substitute almost any name from the Avantipoo list (spicer kelly howe et al) and the squib would still apply . . .