Monday, January 30, 2006

Legitimate Dangers

Have any of you seen this brand new anthology of younger poets (all born after 1960) called Legitimate Dangers? The editors quote from Mina Loy and Gertrude Stein in order to frame this 2006 collection as a continuation of the Modernist adventure.

Poet K. Silem Mohammad has a long post today on his blog challenging the editor’s commitment to this legacy:

It’s a good example of how alive the Modernists still are, how four generations later we’re still squaring off over what Modernism is and how to deploy it in the present. Kasey argues that the editors really just use Loy and Stein as window dressing—the true progenitor of their anthology is Robert Frost, who famously compared free verse to playing tennis without a net.

Which makes me wonder: which poets did you expect to find on our Modern American Poetry syllabus who aren’t there? How does our own syllabus skew the story of modern American verse?


Dallas said...

I actually was a little disappointed at first that so many of my favorites -- Frost, Dickinson, cummings, Ferlenghetti, Brooks, Strand -- weren't on the list. But there are lots of great names that I'm more unfamiliar with and so I think it will be fun to see how those poets influenced the ones that I do know better. To an extent I think Mohammad's challenge is a moot point -- all poets have influenced those who come after them. Loy and Stein were undoubtedly influenced by Frost, but Frost was influenced by those before him, and they before them. How far do we go back before we can satisfactorily point at the root of Modernism? I guess it all depends on where each individual would like to draw the line...

Saranique said...

I think I was also a little disappointed that some of these same poets were missing: cummings, ferlenghetti, as well as plath and and sexton. However the poets i was unfamiliar with have been pleasantly surprising on my first curiosity reads.

I think your statement rings with some truth to me, Dallas. It is hard to point to the "root" of any literary time period. It seems more important to look at the shifts in literature throughout time on a continuum, as opposed to "this is the root." I mean, look at how much Dante's work (as well as older chinese texts) influenced Pound. It seems to me that every work and event that has crossed a poet's path up until the very moment they compose a piece has an influential force and works to frame the piece.

I apologize if this is mildly incoherent babble. I work the night shift.