“How American Modernism Came Out:” Tom writes it in a letter.

….

Hi Christopher,……………………………………………………………..10/27/2009
I never had a chance to see your draft before you pulled it. Don’t be too self-critical — I sort of like it when we post a howler. It’s part of our style, isn’t it? I mean, we don’t even know what we’re going to post next ourselves!

I like the ‘LangPo v. Official Verse Culture’ just up because that’s IT in a nutshell for lots of poets these days.  We’ve got to simplify it like that if we’re going to be popular at all.  We’ve got to mine this whole Modernism thing–it’s pertinent, it’s relevant, it’s got legs, it’s known, it’s familiar to many, it’s sexy, and it’s Foetry-city, and it’s horribly sexist, in my opinion, and fascist, to boot, so if we can get people stirred up about it, we’ll have a huge audience.

I’m not a ‘knee-jerk’ leftist, Christopher; I like to think I transcend political labels, but right now I’ll do anything to get a discussion going.  People who would otherwise be horrified at the true politics of the Modernists have given it a pass for the sake of ‘experimentalism’ and ‘aesthetic radicalism’ but I want to prove to the next generation of good people that we’ve been ‘had,’ and open up their eyes and tie it all into Foetics and then see where it leads, in a kind of Socratic manner: don’t know where the truth is exactly, but we’re looking for it…

You were at Cambridge, and I want to do an in-depth look at how American Modernism came out of the U.K.  It’s really exciting…Bloomsbury and the Cambridge Apostles and the Aristotelian Society…all the New Critics were Rhodes Scholars, including Paul Engle…I’m sure the Plan was formulated in comfortable, cozy rooms above the green lawns of Cambridge University…some British Empire planner took a moment from his busy schedule of running the world…”Oh, what to do with Poetry?  Well, let’s see…give me a moment…How about this and this and this?…very good, then!…carry on…”

So what was the Plan for Poetry?  What is the Plan for everything?  Consolidate power among elites, and I’m guessing the take-over works this way:

1. First, sow confusion in a ‘crisis’ atmosphere  (Oh gosh what the hell is poetry, what is reality, anyway?)

2. Hand-pick those who are best equipped to respond to the ‘crisis’

3.  Let these hand-picked be of two kinds: conservative and radical and let them feign disagreement while working towards the same end.

4. Stamp the hand-picked crisis-responders as the ‘new thing’ and have hand-picked associates in the press and in academia sound the alarm, but with grudging respect.

5. Relevance established, the ‘new thing’ is crowned savior and becomes the new status quo.

The whole thing ‘works’ precisely because the role of poetry no longer exists as poetry, but has been narrowed down into a kind of ‘movement’ which is ‘managed’ by a subsidized group; it is this ‘narrowing’ which provides the ‘energy’ that gains them advantage; they use poetry, instead of the other way around, they tie it into the current ‘crisis,’ and so the mere passive ‘appreciators of poetry’ don’t stand a chance–they’re slaughtered like cows.

I wanted to make this point to Des in our recent comments exchange on Scarriet.  Destroying culture is like killing people.  It’s serious business.  Our mission to save poetry is not just about one’s individual right to write without criticism–it’s deeper than that

Alan’s got to be happy at how Scarriet is doing.

A poet friend of mine from Canada who I only talk to occasionally just sent me an enthusiastic message re: Scarriet.  I’ll quote a part:

“Hi Tom, the Scarriet is amazing! we need something like this in Canada as its pretty lame here and no one is “kicking against the pricks” (sorry for my rather off colour language but this is an actual phrase that was popular in Canadian literary circles years ago) And I am not someone who can speak up unfortunately due to being shy! So congrats again on your feisty spirit and thats a lot of good work.”

Terreson & Gary are united by their ‘love of the earth’ which is OK, but it’s not finally interesting…eco-awareness has been played as much as it can possibly be played in the mainstream press, and now it’s become a matter of policy and implementation. Poets playing it up seems a little beside the point, like saying education matters…

Tom

27 Comments

  1. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 28, 2009 at 5:04 am

    On that last idea, Tom, that effusive pro-nature sentiments in poetry today seem a little beside the point, “like saying education matters…” Here in Chiang Mai we get a lot of that.

    My traditional-medicine-doctor wife runs a Herbal Health Center, and we get all these starry-eyed westerners clamoring for purity and wellness. We have young people coming to Thailand to work on ‘organic farms,’ for example, who don’t realize the farmers not only use cesspool effluent straight on their gardens but wash the fresh picked greens in it too just before they deliver them, unpackaged and natural, to the market. That’s ‘organic’ alright, and needless to say the young people spend a lot of time in the toilet. Then they go home and talk, talk, talk about pure, homegrown products, and real people who are so close to the earth, failing entirely to understand how ambiguous the whole concept of ‘organic’ really is, everywhere, including on those pumped-up and over-packaged green shelves in their own supermarkets. Because it’s our obsessions that pollute — and forget the planet if there’s nobody worth inheriting it!

    We also have take-backers, mud-brickers and energy-savers of all stripes fresh out of the most expensive architectural and engineering schools in the world arriving to show penniless Hill Tribe people how to build ecological houses — forgetting that the materials they have in mind are not available in undeveloped countries, or if they are are way too expensive, and that bamboo in any case is stronger, lighter, cooler, and far more flexible. They also find the absence of roads and the steepness of the paths makes carrying their materials and, of course, power tools up to the site a real drag, and the absence of electricity the clincher. But still somehow they manage to go back and talk, talk, talk about bringing new and cleaner techniques for survival to undeveloped people, instead of in reality vise-versa.

    Finally, the whole-earthers become demons at the table, each one of them with a special set of spiritual prejudices against wheat or fish or dairy or cold drinks or hot drinks or anything at all that gives pleasure. And they’re angry, so many of the eat-gooders, and as a direct result very unhealthy — and of course never stop thinking about food! Indeed, my wife and I joke that the more eco-aware a westerner is the less he or she is likely to know about their own anger. And anger, says my wife, is the main source of all unhappiness as well as of most really difficult and intransigent illnesses.

    Better to be eco-unaware and loving than unloving and a card-carrying member of anything — which is what you’re talking about with regard to poetry too, isn’t it, Tom?

    Christopher

  2. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 28, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    “Terreson & Gary are united by their ‘love of the earth’ which is OK, but it’s not finally interesting…eco-awareness has been played as much as it can possibly be played in the mainstream press, and now it’s become a matter of policy and implementation. Poets playing it up seems a little beside the point, like saying education matters…
    Tom”

    Mr. Brady:

    It is obvious that, other than the occasional ‘eco-centric’ poems I have chosen to post on the internet, you have never read my books. If you haven’t actually read a person’s entire book then it is inappropriate to comment on that person’s poetry. I will here repeat what I said to Christopher Woodman elsewhere on this blog:

    “garybfitzgerald said,
    October 23, 2009 at 3:13 am

    Mr. Woodman:

    Although I do appreciate your positive response to my poetry, you make me think of someone wandering blindly through a museum at night, stumbling through the darkened halls with a dim flashlight. You illuminate this bust or that, one display or another, but the true expanse of the museum’s collection you cannot see.

    ‘I have over 400 poems published in five books available for your purchase and perusal, yet you attempt to define the very nature of my work from the bits and pieces you find posted here and there on the internet. You are not actually familiar with the extent of my oeuvre and so, as a result of your efforts to praise my work, you unintentionally diminish it. I will not address the specific limitations of your observations, but you are truly off the mark. I recommend that you actually read the books before attempting to assess, define or classify my poetry.

    ‘You know not whereof you speak, sir, and are, in fact, doing me a great disservice.

    Gary B. Fitzgerald”

    Plainly put, if you refuse to read my work then shut the hell up about it.

  3. thomasbrady said,

    October 28, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Gary,

    Don’t you think you are being a wee bit arrogant?

    I can’t imagine myself saying, ‘You may NOT discuss a Thomas Brady poem unless you are a Thomas Brady scholar!’

    Come on, guy.

    I think this is a perfect example of how poetry has become infested with elitist arrogance today. see the latest Scarriet Post, ‘Quick Find the Genius.’

    You are NOT an elitist, in many ways, Gary, but by assuming someone must be a scholar of your work before remarking on individual pieces does smack of elitism (and reminds me somewhat of the irritable Western visitors to Thailand Christopher was describing) and in that sense you have succumbed to the Zeitgeist described in the post I mentioned.

    Thomas

  4. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 29, 2009 at 1:12 am

    Also, Gary, I didn’t see any mention of your poetry per se in Tom’s remark in his letter. He was discussing how people talk about poetry today, not how they write it — and the letter ended up with some thoughts about how we talk about poetry on Scarriet. This led Tom to make a comparison between Scarriet and Blog:Harriet, and as you and Terreson are the most frequent posters there now, and have been for almost 2 months now, it was not surprising that he chose to comment on what the two of you talk about together.

    I haven’t read all your poetry by any means, but I’ve read perhaps 60 poems now, at a rough estimate — which is far more poems than I have read by any other single author for some time. They come up regularly on the sites I visit, sometimes 2 or 3 at a time, and I read them all, and often with pleasure.

    Based on this experience of your oeuvre I would not have said you were particularly obsessed with the environment or anything else for that matter — except perhaps with yourself, but that’s normal for a poet! You’re also blessed with a wonderful fey sense of humor — which you only lose when you think people are attacking your poetry, which often they aren’t! On the other hand, in the last two months on Harriet the environment has been the main topic of discussion between you and Terreson, your shared love of the earth and your shared outrage at what is being done to it.

    I think in that context Tom’s remark was fair, and my response appropriate, particularly as I headed toward my final observation about the negative effects of being “a card-carrying member of anything,” however noble the cause or object of our obsession.

    Christopher

  5. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 29, 2009 at 2:29 am

    Gentlemen:

    I’m afraid that you have completely missed the point.

    Please re-read the comment, above, about my and Terreson’s “love of the earth (sic)” and its resultant conclusions about poetry. About 90% of my poetry has nothing to do with the criteria with which it has been defined above.

    I am only saying that I don’t understand how one can critique a poet’s focus or intention without actually reading the poetry. It’s like trying to describe the picture on a jigsaw puzzle from a single piece.

    And, my God!… the death of the Earth is not “finally interesting.”?

    Moron that later.

  6. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 29, 2009 at 5:58 am

    Gary,
    The word in Tom’s letter is “poets,” not “poetry” or “poems.” “Poets playing it up,” he writes, i.e. “people who write poetry” playing it up in discussions on Harriet, not in their poems. Indeed, he never mentions your poetry, God forbid.

    And for someone who is so sensitive to criticism you certainly do shovel it on.

    Finally, even the death of the Earth can become facile if one over-talks it, just like love can become facile when there are too many hugs all around. I live in a culture where people are extremely free and gracious in their bodies, but they don’t touch each other casually. When the Americans arrive with their arms wide open the Thai people flee, and if they can’t get away just let themselves be man-handled out of politeness. But the Thais certainly don’t feel at one with the hugger, and if they can, go away and take a shower.

    Talking too much and too easily about anything can make it profoundly uninteresting, and too much talk about loving the earth in particular can be deadly — almost as bad as talking about God on our side. (Of course God’s on our side, but talking about it is insensitive and self-serving — and must surely make God weep his eyes out!)

    Christopher

  7. thomasbrady said,

    October 29, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    Good one, Christopher.

    ‘Earth’s on our side’ is as ignorant as ‘God’s on our side.’

    Ideology is to be avoided. Earth First-ers condemned nuclear energy as poison and evil. Now, Earth First-ers are saying nuclear energy is the way to go to avoid carbon emissions.

    We should look at every issue on a case-by-case basis, and not be prey to fanatical groups and parties and ideologies.

    We should be professional, not amateur, to use those words in the cred-maker sense.

    After all, what is manifesto-ism, but aesthetic ideology?

    Pardon, Gary, but we have not missed the point. You don’t read what Christopher writes, I’m afraid. There’s a big mote in your eye, when it comes to Christopher, and I’m not sure why that it is. Frankly, I’ve never been able to figure it out. Maybe you’ve listened to the ‘professional’ libel of people like Joan Houlihan too much. I wouldn’t put too much into what Joan Houlihan says. She’s just another po-biz flunky trying to make her way in the world. Good for her. I wouldn’t take her too seriously. She’s on her Socratic quest just like the rest of us.

    Let me make the point again, which Christopher is rationally making.

    You say ‘the poetry’ as if ‘the poetry of Gary Fitzgerald’ is the issue here, and nothing can ever be said on this, or any other subject in the future unless ‘the poetry of Gary Fitzgerald’ is fully understood. But ‘the poetry of Gary Fitzgerald’ is NOT the issue here. Nor should it be. The poet who does not wish to stand behind individual poems as individual poems is busy playing some kind of elitist game. As I said before, I would never be so arrogant as to say, ‘well, before you can judge a poem by Thomas Brady, you must understand the poetry of Thomas Brady.’ That’s a load of crap.

    Just because defenders of Pound do it [you have to read EVERY Canto before you find fault with Pound! etc] doesn’t make it valid. When someone is defending Pound, in 99 cases out of 100, they’re wrong.

    You are trying the same slipshod, elitist strategy, and frankly, I think, I hope, you’re better than that..

    Thomas

  8. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 29, 2009 at 7:53 pm

    Look, all I am saying is please don’t pigeonhole or categorize me until you have seen enough of my work to do it. That’s fair, isn’t it?

    How would you like it if someone said “Yes, I read a poem by Poe. Don’t bother with him. He mostly writes about birds.”?

  9. thomasbrady said,

    October 29, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Gary,

    Poe’s bird made him famous. For most poets, it’s either ‘he wrote the poem about the bird’ or ‘Who?’

    Few poets are famous for a variety of approaches. Pigeon-holing (or Raven-holing) is usually a writer’s only chance for lasting fame.

    It’s easy to say ‘never reject on partial evidence,’ but reality tends to be crass and fast.

    If a new reader is presented with one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and hates it, chances are, reading each one, he WILL hate the rest. And this is not to say anything against the variety of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

    To get your wish, you’ll need to be taught in school.

    Your poems have a fugitive existence, but at least they have an existence.

    Thomas

  10. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 30, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Re. Comment 8.

    Gary,
    I will abide by your injunction and never mention your poetry ever again — though why you wanted me to read those 60 odd poems you put up if I’m not allowed to talk about them I can’t imagine.

    Unless you think all the silence you get from everybody else is repressed adulation, or those rude thumbs-down just jealousy.

    And what about your comments on Harriet, all of which I think I have read? Is there an interdiction on those too? Am I not allowed to understand you, is that it? I mean, if you talk about poetry am I not allowed to say Gary talks about poety, or if you talk about the environment with Terreson I’m not allowed to talk about your talking about the environment with Terreson?

    What dead-ends you do back your way up into, my friend. What wasteful corners you do take refuge in once you’ve finished painting your floors!

    And have you ever had a friend you mock so mercilessly that has never mocked you back? Is there perhaps not some tiny little baby in all that bathwater you chuck out that might just be worth saving?

    Christopher

  11. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 30, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    Doh!

  12. thomasbrady said,

    October 30, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    Gary,

    You don’t doubt Christopher’s sincerity, I hope? It’s painfully obvious to me that Christopher is sincere in his respect for you. Do you recall how you used to erase your posts at poets.net? Christopher and I both felt those erasures were bizarre. (But we still love you)

    If a worthy critic shows interest in, and discusses even a few, or even one, of your poems, this will finally be more helpful to your lasting reputation than if x amount of people buy x amount of your books, read them, but give your poems no critical treatment.

    One well-placed criticism is worth a million book sales, in this respect.

    Thomas

  13. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 30, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    Gentlemen:

    You are confusing fame with respect, temporary adulation with posterity.

    The influences on HOW I write poetry are many: Poe, Shelley, Frost, Jeffers, Cummings, Yeats, Thomas, many others. That is why I called my first book ‘EVOLVING – Poems 1965-2005’. This is my poetry in chronological order from age 13 to 53.

    What this also means is that I did not endeavor to publish any poetry for the better part of my life, even though I have written it since at least age nine. I am not ambitious or arrogant about it. I post my poems for people to enjoy, not critique. If not enjoyed…so what? The list of poets at first criticized or ignored and now revered is very long. I don’t write for fame, which is why I do not enter contests or submit poems to magazines.

    The influence on WHY I continue to write poetry consists of only one: Lao tzu. The words he wrote thousands of years ago still influence millions today. The poems I post on the internet are mere trifles. The ones I hope to be remembered for are in the books and by then the only rewards of fame I expect to garner will consist of a rose on my grave now and then.

    Gary

  14. thomasbrady said,

    October 30, 2009 at 7:14 pm

    Gary,

    “You are confusing fame with respect, temporary adulation with posterity.”

    It all comes down to the same thing, though, doesn’t it? Notoriety, adoration, attention…I specifically said ‘lasting fame,’ so as not to be confused with ’15 minutes of fame,’ but really, why should we quibble? Beggars can’t be choosers. Who knows what lies in the future?

    But adding happiness to the world with poems that make others happy, I agree, SHOULD BE the goal.

    “The poems I post on the internet are mere trifles. The ones I hope to be remembered for are in the books”

    Isn’t it kind of out-dated these days to assume that internet publication is ephemeral, while book publication is not? Medium is important, but those who never wrote (Christ, Socrates) have a way of ‘getting into books,’ while those anxious to ‘get into books’ are, by the millions, unknown.

    “I post my poems for people to enjoy, not critique.”

    If the aim is ‘enjoyment,’ why sully the matter with, in your words, “the influences on HOW I write poetry are many…”? “HOW I write my poetry” sounds suspiciously critical…

    Surely you don’t think a reader, to enjoy, your poetry, needs to know HOW you wrote your poetry? If the aim is ‘enjoyment,’ who cares if Jeffers or Poe influenced your poetry–which is a CRITICAL concern?

    “If not enjoyed–so what? The list of poets at first criticized or ignored and now revered is very long.”

    But WHY are they revered? If readers everywhere reject a poem, but that poem is then fortunate enought to be published in a textbook, that poem might, by force of habit, become “revered.” The poem, however, is not then “revered” BECAUSE it was rejected. There is no connection.

    (Perhaps, in some instances, there might be a connection between rejection of a poem THEN to enjoyment of a poem NOW, but this would depend on audience, context, all sorts of factors, and these considerations would get us away from ‘enjoyment’ and into ‘criticism’ and ‘philosophy…’)

    An important question is, WHO published the poem, and WHY did the rejected poem (a poem with no good qualities) get into a textbook? A world exists around the poem–and it is silly for the poet who wrote the poem to pretend ignorance of that world–which colors and is colored by, the poem.

    And again, if a poem has to be learned in order to be loved, this makes it your duty to put your poems out there any way you can–and this includes the internet.

    ‘Learned in order to be loved’ also involves the critical aspect, which you say does not interest you. But there is more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in your philosophy. A true poet obeys every nuance, even the critical one, even the foetic one.

    But you know all these things.

    I just couldn’t let you say, “You are confusing fame with respect…” and have the last word.

    You see…even pride…

    Thomas

  15. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

    Tom:

    “If the aim is ‘enjoyment,’ why sully the matter with, in your words, “the influences on HOW I write poetry are many…”? “HOW I write my poetry” sounds suspiciously critical…
    Surely you don’t think a reader, to enjoy, your poetry, needs to know HOW you wrote your poetry? If the aim is ‘enjoyment,’ who cares if Jeffers or Poe influenced your poetry–which is a CRITICAL concern?”

    I thought your criticism of me was the subject here.

    As to your other comments, let’s be honest. This website is even BASED on another site. Your only concern is what is said or posted on the internet and, I think you would agree, most of those people ARE concerned with fame and recognition. They want to be adored in their lifetimes, want instant gratification, which is a crucial difference

    Christopher:

    You are correct. If I post a poem or comment in public it is foolish of me to think that it is not then subject to further comment. I just find your comments a little perjorative. You said:

    “Unless you think all the silence you get from everybody else is repressed adulation, or those rude thumbs-down just jealousy.”

    I don’t know. I guess the implication is that people think my poems suck. Please explain, though, why nobody else ever posts a poem? Am I just crazy? I have been doing it on Harriet (and about twenty other blogs) for several years now. Like I said, Bobby Baird is the only one who ever asked me not to and when I wrote him to ask why he did not reply. So you tell me.

  16. thomasbrady said,

    October 31, 2009 at 12:22 am

    “I thought your criticism of me was the subject here.”

    Are you kidding? My ‘criticism’ is based on love and my love is based on philosophy. You are being fed grapes on a vast, soft bed (metaphorically speaking). You just don’t realize it.

    “This website is even BASED on another site.”

    Initially, yes. But we’ve already surpassed that other website.

    “They want to be adored in their lifetimes”

    Why shouldn’t someone who wants to be ‘adored’ in other lifetimes want to be adored ‘in their lifetimes.’ Is NOT being adored in one’s lifetime the way to be adored afterwards? I’m not sure I follow your puritan logic.

    Bobby Baird takes himself way too seriously.

  17. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 31, 2009 at 2:36 am

    “Is NOT being adored in one’s lifetime the way to be adored afterwards? I’m not sure I follow your puritan logic.”

    I’m sure these people would follow it:

    Sylvia Plath
    John Keats
    Richard Brautigan
    Hart Crane
    Deborah Digges
    Anne Sexton
    John Berryman
    Virginia Woolf
    Emily Dickinson
    et al

    Not all suicides, but all, certainly, unadored ‘in their lifetimes’.

  18. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 31, 2009 at 3:49 am

    This goes round and round with you, Gary.

    Instead of having it out all over again for the umpteenth time, let’s just look once and for all at the exchange that most bugs you. This is from way back in June on Martin Earl’s “Poets & Painters” thread [click here], and not only have you never forgiven me for it you still claim what I said speaks negatively about your poetry — “pejorative,” is your latest word for it. Well it doesn’t. Indeed, what I say says nothng whatever about the quality of your poetry, just about your obsession with posting it.

    And I say not one of the poets you’ve just listed would ever have been so shameless as to leave their poems lying about here and there just in case somebody might buy one of their books. They all had too much self-respect for that!

    posted on Blog:Harriet, Martin Earl, “Poets & Painters”

    Lascaux

    The mystery of the early dark,
    the secret of the caves,
    altar to the fear of not surviving.
    What purpose these tinted beasts,
    these invisible creatures seen only
    in the fire light of the spirit
    and imagination?
    A token to the animal gods,
    tithe to the hunt?
    A prayer to the bear for good luck?

    I don’t think so, no. These beasts
    were painted with the pigments
    of gratitude and wonder,
    the suppression of hunger
    with the colors of guilt and regret,
    after dinner.

    Copyright 2008 – SOFTWOOD-Seventy-eight Poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald
    POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON JUNE 19, 2009 AT 9:43 PM

    ~

    Why do you do this, Gary? I mean, what is it in this poem that contributes one iota to this discussion, beside the title?

    Indeed, the content of the poem is way off mark, as it fails to touch any of the issues Martin has raised about words and images. Whether or not it’s a good poem is not the point–it’s just grafitti here, pissing your corner.

    Christopher
    POSTED BY: CHRISTOPHER WOODMAN ON JUNE 19, 2009 AT 10:28 PM

    ~

    Gary,

    I like the way the poem turns (turns on itself?) after the stanza break to examine the cliché described above. I would take out the “no” in the first line of the second. But the second stanza is beautifully done, an examination of feelings and the “emotional” costs of survival. The last line, “after dinner”, is crucial, since it clinches that dynamic between the brute need to stay alive and the internal life, the imagination, of our very clever forbears.

    Martin
    POSTED BY: MEARL ON JUNE 20, 2009 AT 9:13 AM

    ~

    I never said it was a bad poem, Gary–and you know me well, and you know I’m a friend to Gary B. Fitzgerald. At the same time I have to say you are lucky to be on a thread started by such a generous author, and Martin Earl has given you the feedback you crave. But I still say you are wrong to have put him in this position, you are wrong to have shouldered in to his space with a poem that does not address the issues he is raising, however great the poem.

    I’ve said this to you many times on four different sites. This Blog:Harriet is the most open of all those places, and we are all very lucky to be here. I think it’s time you learned to honor the freedom and the welcome it presents you.

    Poems should never be posted here unless they specifically address the issue. Period.

    Your friend, and you know that,

    Christopher
    POSTED BY: CHRISTOPHER WOODMAN ON JUNE 20, 2009 AT 10:01 AM

    ~

    Christopher: if you don’t see the relevance of my poem to this thread, that is, the underlying mystery of why we create…or even exist… that motivates us to express ourselves at all, visual or verbal notwithstanding, then you, my friend, just don’t get it. Poetry, I mean.

    POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON JUNE 21, 2009 AT 7:11 PM

  19. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 31, 2009 at 4:13 am

    No, Gary, you say nothing whatever in “Lascaux” that relates to Martin Earl’s enquiries, and although I truly do like the poem, and respect the views that lie behind it, those views do not add one iota to the discussion at hand. “Gratitude,” “wonder,” and “the suppression of hunger with the colors of guilt and regret” do not answer the huge question the poem poses in the first line either, and that is the “mystery,” the “secret” behind these paintings which lends them such extraordinary power even today, and must surely have been even more powerful and useful too in the lives of the hunters that employed them.

    In fact, Gary, my main criticism of the poem would be that it doesn’t even try to engage the magical power that primitive, totemistic art obviously is charged with, and which was almost certainly the greatest tool in early man’s small bag of tricks — and, of course, a tool that is no longer in our huge Snap-on tool chests on wheels at all. What we call “Art,” a very modern concept, is all we have left of something which was not only the key to survival for early man, but the element that made him, in the religious sphere, so much better equipt to cope than we are.

    Christopher

  20. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 31, 2009 at 4:29 am

    “Christopher: if you don’t see the relevance of my poem to this thread, that is, the underlying mystery of why we create…or even exist… that motivates us to express ourselves at all, visual or verbal notwithstanding, then you, my friend, just don’t get it. Poetry, I mean.”

    POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON JUNE 21, 2009 AT 7:11 PM

    That was actually posted on my birthday…Summer Solstice, 2009.

    This is posted on Samhain (Halloween), 2009:

    Christopher: if you didn’t see the relevance of my poem to that thread, that is, the underlying mystery of why we create…or even exist… what motivates us to express ourselves at all, visual or verbal notwithstanding, then you, my friend, just don’t get it. Poetry, I mean.

    POSTED BY: GARY B. FITZGERALD ON OCTOBER 31, 2009 AT 12:00 AM

    And still don’t.

  21. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 31, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Well, Gary, there we are. I didn’t say it, you did.

    Indeed, in the end you’re always your worst critic when it comes to your own poems, you betray them so freely. And I mean that. You should have more confidence in them. Post them if you must, but then let them cope on their own for a change. And if you can’t, then stop posting them — because not everybody you meet is going to be as careful with you as I am.

    C.

  22. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 31, 2009 at 5:19 am

    The only two words in the poem that move in the direction of Martin Earl’s discussion are “spirit” and “imagination,” but words without images have nothing to say. Indeed, you might argue that that was not the focus of the poem, and I would agree entirely — the poem says essentially that art cheers people up (“gratitude,” “wonder,” “supression of hunger). Art is a placebo, in other words, a Dr. Feelgood — and you say that very well indeed, and the poem is a success because of it.

    Modern art may be like that — but Lascaux surely wasn’t, as the world of the cave painters had not yet evolved the wherewithall or even the concept of leisure.

    I’d really like to rewrite the last sentence in my last but one post like this: “What we call “Art,” a very modern concept, is all we have left of something which was not only the key to survival for early man, but the element that made him so much better equipt to cope than we are in his small bare person. Because the Lascaux artist could provide for himself with just his bare hands!”

    Also, to show you what I mean about the images doing the work on this subject, try Sylvia Plath’s “Black Rook in Rainy Weather” or Ted Hughes’ “Thrushes.” Both those poets knew something about the secret power in the image that the Lascaux painter depended upon daily, in his pigments, in his tools, in his weapons — his hands in his heart and vise-versa.

    And that’s not the focus of your poem at all, Gary. Your poem sees the Lascaux paintings just as art.

    No blame, but not what we’re talking about.

    Christopher

  23. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 31, 2009 at 6:07 am

    I give up, Christopher. My only recommendation is that you read Joseph Campbell, especially ‘The Way of the Animal Powers’.

  24. cowpattyhammer said,

    October 31, 2009 at 6:30 am

    I deeply admire and love Joseph Campbell, and have almost all his books on my shelves here in Chiang Mai– and the Collected Works of C.C.Jung ditto. But it’s all second hand, Gary. It’s all prose, for one thing, and it’s all Comparative Mythology — collated, collected, compared, analyzed, and retold in the context of some other story or tribe, culture or patient.

    In other words, it’s not the real thing.

    An encyclopaedia isn’t knowing, and Joseph Campbell never said it was either. Jung tried to suppress “The Red Book” because that got too close to the power that had almost destroyed him personally, and he knew it was ambiguous and very misleading — and very, very dangerous. Like Loki or Hanuman, Rasputin, Gurdjieff, Rudolf Steiner or the Devil!

    And that there are many things you shouldn’t talk about at all, though poetry can shelter you from the gaze that turns you to stone because you don’t have to look and even if you do you don’t have to actually see it!

    So no, I won’t go to “The Way of the Animal Powers” for help, Gary. I’m a beginner and will just go to “Thrushes.”

    Christopher

  25. garybfitzgerald said,

    October 31, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Well, since it’s Halloween, and I’m hoping to go and watch the horse jousting at the annual Renaissance Festival this afternoon (not to mention the scantily clad wenches), and assuming I get some sleep since it’s way past midnight on this side of the planet, and considering that I am totally, happily shit-faced, I will share with you boys the secret of poetry.

    The only thing that makes a bad poet bad is simply not knowing the secret. It’s not the structure of the line or the prosody and rhyme. It’s only the secret, and the secret of poetry is that it believes in magic. Magic is the secret of poetry.

    It’s not about the structure of the sentence
    or the constancy of style,
    the endless repetition
    in forms so long ago expressed.
    It’s about the message that’s conveyed,
    the vision in the image, the telos in the words,
    not the way it’s dressed.

    The sea takes many forms and moods,
    rough and wild or placid,
    but it is that which swims beneath it
    that gives it worth.

    Copyright 2009 – Ponds and Lawns, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Magic

    A tree snake climbed right up the front porch steps,
    poked her head up over the edge and looked around,
    her long thin body stretching down the stairs
    like a luminescent green rope.

    Tree frog came from nowhere, plopped right down
    on the back porch. Cats perked up their ears and looked.
    Frog hopped into the wisteria vine and disappeared.

    Black butterfly appears, then gone. Then a yellow one.
    A dragonfly! Visible for a moment, then gone away.
    Bright red cardinal here, on the fence, then over there,
    in the tree. Then nowhere. Gone. A magical day.

    I gently lifted the green snake and carried her over to the
    green Yaupon thicket. She slipped onto a leafy branch
    and vanished into thin air.

    Copyright 2008 – SOFTWOOD – Seventy-eight poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

    Mockingbird

    I see God’s hand in amber clouds
    with golden rays above blue seas,
    in black stripes on orange fur.
    I see His plan in flowering trees,
    in mockingbirds and honey bees,
    in every desperate cur.

    Call me crazy…well, they do,
    but I see His thoughts in cobras, too.
    I see His will in crocodiles.
    They see God in human beings
    and Satan in the wild,
    but I see the Devil in you and me
    and in every human child.
    The roots of Poison Ivy
    always grow new vines.

    I see that mockingbird on the fence over there
    just winked his eye at me.

    Copyright 2008 – SOFTWOOD – Seventy-eight poems, Gary B. Fitzgerald

  26. thomasbrady said,

    November 1, 2009 at 3:05 am

    Gary,

    ***

    Is NOT being adored in one’s lifetime the way to be adored afterwards? I’m not sure I follow your puritan logic.”

    I’m sure these people would follow it:

    Sylvia Plath
    John Keats
    Richard Brautigan
    Hart Crane
    Deborah Digges
    Anne Sexton
    John Berryman
    Virginia Woolf
    Emily Dickinson
    et al

    Not all suicides, but all, certainly, unadored ‘in their lifetimes’.

    ***
    Two quick things:

    Being ‘unadored in their lifetimes’ did not MAKE them ‘adored’ later–there’s no cause and effect; that was my point. I wasn’t saying no poet is adored posthumously.

    Secondly, that list contains poets who attempted mightily to be adored while they lived, and most of these poets were adored in their lifetimes: Plath was getting attention, Keats was reviewed and known, Berryman was friends with Jarrell, Delmore Schwartz, and Blackmur, and was known in poetry and academic circles, Woolf had a following as an important Bloomsbury writer, Hart Crane was known in influential modernist circles, Sexton befriended Plath and Lowell; even Dickinson belonged to an extremely high-placed family-again, NOT being adored then has nothing to do with their current following.

    Thomas

  27. thomasbrady said,

    November 1, 2009 at 3:32 am

    Christopher,

    The Harriet thread you linked in your post #18:

    Martin Earl’s ‘Poets and Painters’ thread back in June featured not only your strike against Gary, which I’m sure you regret, but I joined the discussion with a ‘poem’ and then I began an attack on Ashbery that must have appalled many, and brought in Don Share and Travis Nichols. I made the point that 50,000 Americans sampled at random wouldn’t recognize the most well-known lines of Ashbery and none disputed this, but Nichols closed the thread with “They are memorable. I remembered them.”

    And Desmond Swords let Michael Robbins have it. Remember? And the ‘reply function’ turned Swords’ essay into a word-per-line skyscraper?

    On that thread I also informed Gary that his poem on the cave painting was archeology, not criticsm. Frankly, I’m not sure what Martin’s thread was saying exactly, or what Gary’s poem was saying in relation to Martin’s thread, or what you were saying about Gary’s poem, or what I was saying about Gary’s poem.

    All I know is I really let poor Ashbery have it.

    Thomas