Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Olson v. Duncan Smackdown!

OK, well, not exactly. As far as I know about it, they were always pretty amicable. But I've been teaching some Olson, and I have confronted this terrible fact about myself - I like Duncan's poems better! Oh, sure, I like Olson's poetics - all the stuff about particularity, esp. - and I like the way he merges personal biography and communal history (sometimes against each other) - and always keeps bringing it back to the local. Some of O's poems are truly magnificent - but others (a lot of others) seem self-indulgent. OK, so he's mercurial and really smart, and this is the record of the dance of his intellect, blah blah. But what about all us laggards?? We deserve some respect, too! And too often I feel like O. is leaving us in the dust, & mumbling to himself. The transitions are not as clean as Pound's, and not as smooth (and inconsequential) as Ashbery. They're just abrupt, unmotivated, and irritating. It's all a kind of coy shorthand. Well, some of it, anyway.

But, see, this is where I start to feel like a real philistine for liking Duncan - and his more mellifluous romantico-modernist collages. It's all a little too sweet for me to credit. And then there's his flaming platonism. All those archetypal images lining up neatly in "rimes." Yuk! I mean, seriously, nobody who has to earn a living can be a platonist!

And yet, I'm taken by the music. Bourdieu would put me down with the people digging "Blue Danube," probably.

But even Olson, Mr. Local Polis Materiality can sound pretty duncanesque about these things: "to construct knowing back to image and/ God's face behind it" - or "no event// is not penetrated, in intersection or collision with, an eternal/ event." Penetrated, indeed - ravished by the divine forms. (And then there are those enjambments that leave the last word of a sentence on the next line. I mean, that just bugs. (And all those parentheses with no close-parentheses

1 comment:

Joseph Hutchison said...

Liking Duncan makes one a philistine? Oh lordy, I'm in trouble! You touch on one of the qualities that makes Duncan superior to Olson when you note his "mellifluous ... collages." Olson is spiky, craggy, and ultimately fairly linear; Duncan's brushstrokes enlarge the canvas as they go.

And Plato made a tidy living, if I remember....

By the way, on my blog I've stolen some excellent ideas from you and hope I haven't done too much violence to your views.