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
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