This was the first literary hoax I followed in real-time. It unfolded in online journals, emails, and on the then red-hot Buffalo Poetics list, so I guess it was an early instance of how the Internet would change the discourse around poetry. Big as it flared, I’d forgotten about it until Gary’s post, and never knew Ashbery had intervened.
Whatever happened to Jacques Debrot? He appeared as a musketeer in Kevin Killian’s “What I Saw at the Orono Conference 2000” report, then I’d heard he’d made a grand renunciation of poetry and vanished. Seems like there was a “Debrot is dead” rumor at one point—like those reports of Jerry “The Beaver” Mathers having died in Viet Nam—but it turned out he was just teaching somewhere in the Midwest, I think. Odd to be nostalgic for a hoax not ten years gone: maybe Ashbery’s right to yoke modernity to elegy.
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