Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Josh Corey has an interesting column here about Robert Duncan's reliance on/adherence to the ubermythological:


And here John Latta in his blog yesterday is noting:

[Frank] O’Hara’s remarks (to Edward Lucie-Smith, in 1965) about Creeley and control (versus “the sort of tumultuous outpouring of images which then get themselves together into being a poem, somehow” wherein “you do have the excitement of seeing whether you’re really going to get it to be a poem or not”). O’Hara complains how the minimalisms of Creeley (and Levertov) end up “making control practically the subject matter of the poem. That is your control of the language, your control of the experiences and your control of your thought.”: And: “the amazing thing is that where they’ve pared down the diction so the experience presumably will come through as strongly as possible, it’s the experience of their paring it down that comes through more strongly and not the experience that is the subject.”


O'Hara the maximalist perceives correctly how very different his practice is from Creeley's—

And Creeley (or so it seems to me) unlike Duncan is not stuffing his verse with mythological figures or references—

is not constantly plucking items from the "myth-kitty" as Philip Larkin calls it—

both O'Hara and Creeley are doing what Larkin advocates: taking their matter, their subjects from the daily life around them, what lies before their immediate eyes—

waylayers of what Bonnefoy calls

herméneutique sur le vif


Maxi versus mini is one way of arranging your poets in contrast:

another might be pro-myth versus anti- .

Which would place Larkin closer than Duncan to Creeley/O'Hara (and bring the latter nearer together) . . .



Today (Thursday June 30) the Harriet blog is quoting Charles Bernstein:

"everyday life, that great Creeley theme ..."

—Exactly. Everyday life. Couldn't have phrased it better myself—

"Everyday life" is the great theme not only of Creeley but also O'Hara and Larkin—

but can anyone claim the same of Duncan? Surely his great theme(s) transcended (or sought to) the everyday, the quotidian—

the myth-kitty was never far from his hand, was it?



of course O'Hara stuffed—or peppered might be the better verb—his poems with all kinds of referents, from movies to myths—

but can you imagine him writing something like Duncan's "Achilles' Song"— a persona poem, a dramatic monolog spoken as the Greek hero,

especially as seriously as Duncan does it on page 100 of his Selected Poems (New Directions, 1993)?

"Duncan," the backcover of this book proclaims, "was a poet of cosmic imagination."

Duncan: cosmic;
O'Hara: cosmopolitan.

Not to mention the mask of 'comic,' which surely O'Hara/Creeley/Larkin all wear at times in their work,

but Duncan? Ironic, sardonic, satiric, yes, perhaps, occasionally, but does his verse ever stray into the lowbrow demotic of slangbent humor


No comments:

Post a Comment