A BRIEF HISTORY OF U.S. POETRY: HAPPY NEW YEAR!

1650 Anne Bradstreet’s The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America: By a Gentlewoman of Those Parts published in London.

1773 Phillis Wheatley, a slave, publishes Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral

1791 The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is published in Paris, in French.  Ben Franklin’s Autobiography appears in London, for the first time in English, two years later.   Had it been published in America, the Europeans would have laughed.  The American experiment isn’t going to last, anyway.

Franklin, the practical man, the scientist, and America’s true founding father, weighs in on poetry: it’s frivolous.

1794  Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey make plans to go to Pennsylvania in a communal living experiment, but their personalities clash and the plan is aborted.  Southey becomes British Poet Laureate twenty years later.

1803  William Blake, author of “America: A Prophecy” is accused of crying out “Damn the King!” in Sussex, England, narrowly escaping imprisonment for treason.

1815  George Ticknor, before becoming literature Chair at Harvard, travels to Europe for 4 years, spending 17 months in Germany.

1817  “Thanatopsis” by William Cullen Bryant appears in the North American Review.

1824  Byron dies in Greece.

1824  Lafayette, during tour of U.S, calls on Edgar Poe’s grandmother, revolutionary war veteran widow.

1832  Washington Irving edits London edition of William Cullen Bryant’s Poems to avoid politically offending British readers.

1835 Massachusetts senator and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier mobbed and stoned in Concord, New Hampshire.

1835  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow appointed Smith Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard.

1836  Ralph Waldo Emerson publishes 500 copies of Divinity School Address anonymously.  He will not publish another book for 6 years.

1838  Poe’s translated work begins appearing in Russia.

1843  Transcendentalist, Unitarian minister, Harvard Divinity School student Christopher Pearse Cranch marries the sister of T.S. Eliot’s Unitarian grandfather; dedicates Poems to Emerson, published in The Dial, a magazine edited by Margaret Fuller and Emerson; frequent visitor to Brook Farm.  Cranch is more musical and sensuous than Emerson; even Poe can tolerate him; Cranch’s poem “Enosis” pre-figures Baudelaire’s “Correspondences.”

T.S. Eliot’s family is deeply rooted in New England Unitarianism and Transcendentalism through Cranch and Emerson’s connection to his grandfather, Harvard Divinity graduate, William Greenleaf Eliot, founder of Washington U., St. Louis.

1845  Elizabeth Barrett writes Poe with news of “The Raven’s” popularity in England.  The poem appeared in a daily American newspaper and produced instant fame, though Poe’s reputation as a critic and leader of the Magazine Era was well-established.  During this period Poe coins “Heresy of the Didactic” and “A Long Poem Does Not Exist.”  In a review of Barrett’s 1840 volume of poems which led to Barrett’s fame before she met Robert Browning, Poe introduced his piece by saying he would not, as was typically done, review her work superficially because she was a woman.

1847  Ralph Waldo Emerson is in England, earning his living as an orator.

1848  Charles Baudelaire’s first translations of Poe appear in France.

1848  James Russell Lowell publishes “A Fable For Critics” anonymously.

1848 Female Poets of America, an anthology of poems by American women, is published by the powerful and influential anthologist, Rufus Griswold—who believes women naturally write a different kind of poetry.  Griswold’s earlier success, The Poets and Poetry of America (1842) contains 3 poems by Poe and 45 by Griswold’s friend, Charles Fenno Hoffman. In a review, Poe remarks that readers of anthologies buy them to see if they are in them.

1848  Poe publishes Eureka and the Rationale of Verse, exceptional works on the universe and verse.

1849 Edgar Poe is murdered in Baltimore; leading periodicals ignore strange circumstances of Poe’s death and one, Horace Greeley’s Tribune, hires Griswold (who signs his piece ‘Ludwig’) to take the occasion to attack the character of the poet.

1855 Griswold reviews Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and calls it a “mass of stupid filth.”  The hated Griswold, whose second “wife” was a man, also lets the world know in his review that Whitman is a homosexual.  Whitman later includes the Griswold review in one of his editions of Leaves.

1856  English Traits, extolling the English race and the English people, saying it was English “character” that vanquished India, is published in the U.S. and England, by poet and new age priest Ralph Waldo Emerson, as England waits for the inevitable Civil War to tear her rival, America, apart.

1859.  In a conversation with William Dean Howells, Emerson calls Hawthorne’s latest book “mush” and furiously calls Poe “the jingle man.”

1860  William Cullen Bryant introduces Abraham Lincoln at Cooper Union; the poet advises the new president on his cabinet selection.

1867  First collection of African American “Slave Songs” published.

1883  “The New Colossus” is composed by Emma Lazarus; engraved on the Statue of Liberty, 1903

1883  Poems of Passion by Ella Wheeler Wilcox rejected by publisher on grounds of immorality.

1888 “Casey at the Bat” published anonymously. The author, Ernest Thayer, does not become known as the author of the poem until 1909.

1890  Emily Dickinson’s posthumous book published by Mabel Todd and Thomas Higginson.  William Dean Howells gives it a good review, and it sells well.

1893  William James, Emerson’s godson, becomes Gertrude Stein’s influential professor at Harvard.

1897  Wallace Stevens enters Harvard, falling under the spell of William James, as well as George Santayana.

1904  Yone Noguchi publishes “Proposal to American Poets” as the Haiku and Imagism rage begins in the United States and Britain.

1910  John Crowe Ransom, Fugitive, Southern Agrarian, New Critic, takes a Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University.

1910  John Lomax publishes “Cowboy Songs and Frontier Ballads.”

1912  Harriet Monroe founds Poetry magazine; in 1880s attended literary gatherings in New York with William Dean Howells and Richard Henry Stoddard (Poe biographer) and in 1890s met Whistler, Henry James, Thomas Hardy and Aubrey BeardsleyEzra Pound is Poetry’s London editor.

1913  American Imagist poet H.D. marries British Imagist poet Richard Aldington.

1914  Ezra Pound works as Yeats‘ secretary in Sussex, England.

1915  Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology published.  Masters was law partner of Clarence Darrow.

1917  Robert Frost begins teaching at Amherst College.

1920  “The Sacred Wood” by T.S. Eliot, banker, London.

1921  Margaret Anderson’s Little Review loses court case and is declared obscene for publishing a portion of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which is banned in the United States.  Random House immediately tries to get the ban lifted in order to publish the work.

1922  T.S.Eliot’s “The Waste Land” awarded The Dial Prize.

1922  D.H Lawrence and Frieda stay with Mabel Dodge in Taos, New Mexico.

1923  Edna St. Vincent Millay wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1923  William Butler Yeats wins Nobel Prize for Literature

1924  Robert Frost wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

1924  Ford Madox Ford founds the Transatlantic Review.   Stays with Allen Tate and Robert Lowell in his lengthy sojourn to America.

1924  Marianne Moore wins The Dial Prize; becomes editor of The Dial the next year.

1924  James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children opens.

1925  E.E. Cummings wins The Dial Prize.

1926  Yaddo Artist Colony opens

1927  Walt Whitman biography wins Pulitzer Prize

1930  “I’ll Take My Stand” published by Fugitive/Southern Agrarians and future New Critics, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, Allan Tate defend ways of the Old South.

1932  Paul Engle wins Yale Younger Poet Prize, judged by member of John Crowe Ransom’s Fugitive circle.  Engle, a prolific fundraiser, builds the Iowa Workshop into a Program Writing Empire.

1933  T.S. Eliot delivers his speech on “free-thinking jews” at the University of Virginia.

1934  “Is Verse A Dying Technique?” published by Edmund Wilson.

1936  New Directions founded by Harvard sophomore James Laughlin.

1937  Robert Lowell camps out in Allen Tate’s yard.  Lowell has left Harvard to study with John Crowe Ransom at Kenyon College.

1938  First Edition of textbook Understanding Poetry by Fugitives Brooks and Warren, helps to canonize unread poets like Williams and Pound.

1938  Aldous Huxley moves to Hollywood.

1939  Allen Tate starts Writing Program at Princeton.

1939  W.H. Auden moves to the United States and earns living as college professor.

1940  Mark Van Doren is awarded Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

1943  Ezra Pound indicted for treason by the United States government.

1946  Wallace Stegner founds Stanford Writing Program.  Yvor Winters will teach Pinsky, Haas, Hall and Gunn.

1948  Pete Seeger, nephew of WW I poet Alan Seeger (“I Have A Rendevous With Death”) forms The Weavers, the first singer-songwriter ‘band’ in the rock era.

1948  T.S. Eliot wins Nobel Prize

1949  T.S. Eliot attacks Poe in From Poe To Valery

1949  Ezra Pound is awarded the Bollingen Prize.  The poet Robert Hillyer protests and Congress resolves its Library will no longer fund the award.  Hillyer accuses Paul Melon, T.S. Eliot and New Critics of a fascist conspiracy.

1950  William Carlos Williams wins first National Book Award for Poetry

1950  Gwendolyn Brooks wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1951  John Crowe Ransom is awarded the Bollingen.

1953  Dylan Thomas dies in New York City.

1954  Theodore Roethke wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1957  Allen Tate is awarded the Bollingen.

1957  “Howl” by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg triumphs in obscenity trial as the judge finds book “socially redeeming;” wins publicity in Time & Life.

1957  New Poets of England and America, Donald Hall, Robert Pack, Louis Simspon, eds.

1959  Carl Sandburg wins Grammy for Best Performance – Documentary Or Spoken Word (Other Than Comedy) for his recording of Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait with the New York Philharmonic.

1959  M.L Rosenthal coins the term “Confessional Poetry” in The Nation as he pays homage to Robert Lowell.

1960  New American Poetry 1945-1960, Donald Allen, editor.

1961  Yvor Winters is awarded the Bollingen.

1961  Denise Levertov becomes poetry editor of The Nation.

1961  Louis Untermeyer appointed Poet Laureate Consultant In Poetry To the Library of Congress (1961-63)

1962  Sylvia Plath takes her own life in London.

1964  John Crowe Ransom wins The National Book Award for Selected Poems.

1964  Keats biography by Jackson Bate wins Pulitzer.

1965  Horace Gregory is awarded the Bollingen.  Gregory had attacked the poetic reputation of Edna Millay.

1967  Anne Sexton wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1968  Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, directed by Zeffirelli, nominated for Best Picture by Hollywood.

1971  The Pound Era by Hugh Kenner published.  Kenner, a friend of William F. Buckley, Jr., saved Pound’s reputation with this work; Kenner also savaged the reputation of Edna Millay.

1971  W.S Merwin wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1972  John Berryman jumps to his death off bridge near University of Minnesota.

Berryman, the most “Romantic” of the New Critics (he was educated by them) is considered by far the best Workshop teacher by many prize-winning poets he taught, such as Phil Levine, Snodgrass, and Don Justice.  Berryman’s classes in the 50’s were filled with future prize-winners, not because he and his students were great, but because his students were on the ground-floor of the Writing Program era, the early, heady days of pyramid scheme mania—characterized by Berryman’s imbalanced, poetry-is-everything personality.

1972  Frank O’Hara wins National Book Award for Collected Poems

1975  Gary Snyder wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1976  Humboldt’s Gift, Saul Bellow’s novel on Delmore Schwartz, wins Pulitzer.

1978  Language magazine, Bernstein & Andrews, begins 4 year run.  Bernstein studied J.L Austin’s brand of ‘ordinary language philosophy’ at Harvard.

1980  Helen Vendler wins National Book Critics Circle Award

1981 Seamus Heaney becomes Harvard visiting professor.

1981  Derek Walcott founds Boston Playwrights’ Theater at Boston University.

1981  Oscar Wilde biography by Ellman wins Pulitzer.

1982  Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems wins Pulitzer.

1984  Harold Bloom savagely attacks Poe in review of Poe’s Library of America works (2 vol) in New York Review of Books, repeating similar attacks by Aldous Huxley and T.S. Eliot.

1984  Marc Smith founds Slam Poetry in Chicago.

1984  Mary Oliver is awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1986  Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, a novel in verse, is published.

1987  The movie “Barfly” depicts life of Charles Bukowski.

1988  David Lehman’s Best American Poetry Series debuts with John Ashbery as first guest editor.  The first words of the first poem (by A.R. Ammons) in the Series are: William James.

1991  “Can Poetry Matter?” by Dana Gioia is published in The Atlantic. According to the author, poetry has become an incestuous viper’s pit of academic hucksters.

1996  Jorie Graham wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

1999  Peter Sacks wins Georgia Prize.

1999  Billy Collins signs 3-book, 6-figure deal with Random House.

2002  Ron Silliman’s Blog founded.

2002  Louis Menand’s The Metaphysical Club wins Pulitzer Prize.

2002  Garrison Keillor’s Good Poems published.

2004  Foetry.com founded by Alan Cordle. Shortly before his death, Robert Creeley defends his poetry colleagues on Foetry.com.

2004  Franz Wright wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

2005 Ted Kooser wins Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

2005  William Logan wins National Book Critics Circle Award

2006  Fulcrum No. 5 appears, featuring works of Landis Everson and his editor, Ben Mazer, also Eliot Weinberger, Glyn Maxwell, Joe Green, and Marjorie Perloff.

2007 Joan Houlihan dismisses Foetry.com as “losers” in a Poets & Writers letter. Defends the integrity of both Georgia and Tupelo, failing to mention Levine is her publisher and business partner.

2007  Paul Muldoon succeeds Alice Quinn as poetry editor of The New Yorker.

2008 Poets & Writers bans Thomas Brady and Christopher Woodman from its Forum. The Academy of American Poetry On-Line Editor, Robin Beth Schaer, is shortlisted for the Snowbound Series prize by Tupelo at the same time as Poets.org bans Christopher Woodman for mentioning the P&W letter as well.

2009  The Program Era by Mark McGurl, published by Harvard University Press

2009  Following the mass banning of Alan Cordle, Thomas Brady, Desmond Swords and Christopher Woodman from Harriet, the blog of The Poetry Foundation, a rival poetry site is formed: Scarriet.

Advertisements

15 Comments

  1. poetryandporse said,

    January 2, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    I like it. A very comprehensive list which presents a snapshot and one of many arcs that could’ve been articulated on the subject of what happened in American poetry over the course of its inception with Bradstreet.

    What’s interesting is that the closer we come to the here and now, the more the politics of academic patronage and cliquery, the connections between the self-serving awarders and awardees becomes laughably apparent and intertwined and all in all..shows the author is passionate, interested in and obsessed by this thing of ours, the business of being vigilantee versesmiths doing it for the moral majesty of the one true source of Segais well within.

    I forget the term they use in conspiracy theory circles, which labels this kind of blatant mates-elevating-mates and out-in-the-open practices which do not get questioned because of the brazen way in which they occur. Michael Collins, the Irish leader during the war of independance, used to walk around Dublin openly even though he was the most wanted man in the British empire, reasoning that if you don’t act like your on the run, no one will think you are – and there is something of this in the back-slap-fests poetry throws up during the prize giving occassions.

    In Britain, the Poet Laureate, a great friend and supporter of royalty, OBE and CBE, judged her mate, Don Patterson OBE, the winnner of the Queens Medal for Poetry, waxing lyrical on how fantastic the mind of this heavily awarded and somewhat dour, hyper-serious preacher’s son is, and how deserving he is to be held up as a shining example, a role model for poets to follow.

    But behind all this lovely mutual admiration society, is what? A message that says, know your place, play the game of supporting a monarch and you too can get to lord it over the working-class you come from and who, if you are very lucky, like me with an OBE and CBE, can make a difference by being singled out as a working-class person who doesn’t half talk some shite about how fabulous all my pals in poetry are.

    Fair play to ’em, I just wish they were a bit less touchy about all these gifts they have and could have a laugh at their own expense instead of being oh so fragile when it comes to the important questions of their place and role in society as working class role models.

    Desmond

  2. Christopher Woodman said,

    January 3, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Hey you guys, hear him — Desmond Swords from Dublin.

    And hear precisely who he’s knocking too, not us but the English. Because he’s Irish, for God’s sake — not even Irish-American! Our Desmond Swords has no mixed feelings whatsoever about the Imperial Overseas Outreach of the Masterpiece Theatre mystique either, and doesn’t associate ivy with laurel like most Americans, more like twead with twee or twit! Yes, Desmond is free to call an English spade a spade and not a gin-and-tonic, bow-tie or golden retriever.

    The DaVinci Code would have been a good beach-read if you’d never read anything better, which presumably a great many of Dan Brown’s readers hadn’t. Because its style must surely be the worst of any best-seller ever to have got so up in lights, and its hero, Robert Langdon, the most embarrassing Masterpiece Theatre macaroon that ever crossed a quadrangle (or answered an ad in the NYRB for a rooftop pied-a-terre with a fireplace in the Marais for a sabbatical in the Louvre).

    That’s what we buy into here in America, Desmond. That’s what even we poets compromise our souls to be.

    And that’s why Foetics is so unpopular, and why the whole court shushes us up when we suggest the Emperor has no clothes!

    Christopher

  3. thomasbrady said,

    January 3, 2010 at 4:54 am

    It is strange the way American public television is so British; why does current American highbrow-ism reflect an early 19th century version of America when the Yanks were a slave to English cultural opinions? Sure, the Brits are bloody brilliant when it comes to being a step ahead of us in progressive areas while always managing to soften their imperial, racist front, catnip to wealthy American liberals, but bloody hell, enough costume drama soap operas with English accents already! I did see a moving portrayal of the Alcotts on public TV today; that was refreshing.

  4. poetryandporse said,

    January 3, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Being born in Lancashire and living in England for the first 37 years of life, whilst not being English, its culture did play a role in shaping who I am today, chaps. Going by one’s voice alone, it is perfectly understandable that one may sound – to less intellectually aware types – as English as Bernard Manning – coming as I do from the same north-west working-class milieu as Bernard did.

    Technically speaking I can, if I so wish it, be an English person anytime I fancy; due to a legal right of holding (should I choose) dual British and Irish nationality. Triple if we throw English into the mix.

    But I am Irish, the same as people from the six counties of Ulster who choose it, are loyal British citizens.

    ~

    I am no different to many people who are the child of immigrant parents, and in the 1970’s, during the height of the IRA campaign, I felt as some young British muslims might feel now whose parents come from where the current theatres of war Britian’s involved in, are being played out.

    My first memory of being singled out as ‘other’ and not English, was at the age of seven or so when a group of us kids got stopped by a police officer (agent of the British Crown as it is in the strictest context) – for some minor trespass on a small patch of wasteground close to the centre of the small town of Ormskirk, SW Lancashire, where I was reared. We were asked our names and when I gave mine, Kevin Desmond, the ‘copper’ as they are colloquially referred to, sneered:

    ‘a mick are yer?’

    I didn’t know what he meant, but felt some vague animosity towards my seven year old person, which the five or so other kids with me, mostly older, weren’t singled out for by this adult male and the live symbol of English fairness and democracy, invested with responsibilities one associates with those first points of contact between citizen and agents of the Crown administering English justice.

    When I got home, I asked my father what a ‘mick’ was, and related what had happened. He wasn’t happy, in fact he was furious and wanted to go down to the station, but didn’t because he was an Irishman in 1970’s England and life wasn’t particularly fair for people like him then, as the Birmingham six and Guildford four knew only too well, after being imprisoned for bombings they had nothing to do with.

    So too, as many in Gitmo and the secret deniable centres of out-sourced torture know all too well: belonging to a cultural group an imperial power is at war with, can cost you your freedom and, and as many thousands now dead found out; your life.

  5. Christopher Woodman said,

    January 3, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    And Desmond Swords, a.k.a. Kevin Desmond, just because he wrote a lot, and passionate, and because Thomas Brady and I, Christopher Woodman, renegades, reached out a hand to him, got banned on September 1st along with the three of us, including Alan Cordle, the Foetry man.

    Though he’d never heard of Foetry or Jorie Graham as a judge, or Janet Holmes as anything, Scott Cairns, Peter Sacks or Bin Ramke, Desmond Swords got arrested just as if he were a Mick in the wrong place in the northwest of England in the 1970s — though this was America in 2009, and he was Irish.

    And by The Poetry Foundation of America, Ruth B. Lilly’s place, if you can believe it — R.I.P.

    So how do you all feel about that?

    Christopher

  6. Christopher Woodman said,

    January 3, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Here’s how American History actually works, an object lesson.

    When Travis Nichols, the Editor of The Poetry Foundation of America’s Blog:Harriet, banned the four of us on September 1st, 2009, without warning or explanation, he thought, “O.k, that’s done.” Well, it wasn’t, because in American history, power take-overs and assassinations tend to come out, and we’re still here, indeed have no intention just to fade away. We were axed just because we threatened to expose cronyism, favoritism, and ‘special poetry interests’ in the inside world that has so distorted American letters, and I’m afraid we’re still talking about it. In fact, our new site Scarriet is scaring Harriet shitless!

    A rough but appropriate image, because do you remember how Noah Freed, Nick, those types on Harriet, used to call us “shit?” Do you remember how Travis would praise them for it, reassuring them that everything would be o.k? Well, what an irony that now that they have gotten rid of us they have nothing left in themselves at all. Not a word. Speechless!

    “Hey, Nick,” we have no intention just to lie down and let you and your tight-assed friends walk over us.

    See, we’re here — and you’re reading us still, and nobody’s reading you because there’s nothing for them to read!

  7. poetryandporse said,

    January 3, 2010 at 7:12 pm

    There’s an article on the Poetry Foundation in the Chicago Tribune by Ron Grossman, published Wednesday 31 December last, in which he informs us:

    ‘More than half the 12 trustees of a foundation set up to administer the gift either resigned or say they were forced out after criticizing the new leadership.’

    He tells us how six ex-trustees were not happy with the way Barr was operating, and that they sent their concerns in two spiral bound volumes of documents to the relevant state authority.

    ‘Ultimately, the conflict landed on the desk of Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, whose office has oversight of nonprofits. Her staff is now looking into the ex-trustees’ concerns, which include questions about fiscal practices, conflict of interest, nepotism and playing fast and loose with the rules charitable organizations are supposed to follow.

    In an interview, Donald Marshall, chairman of The Poetry Foundation, said he “categorically denied” the dissident trustees’ allegations of mismanagement. While expressing admiration for the trustees’ skills and experience, he said he was “mystified” by their complaints to Madigan, which he sees as based upon “rather stale claims.”

    Robyn Ziegler, a spokeswoman for Madigan, said the investigation is ongoing and that officials received a new batch of information this month from Poetry.

    “We have not found any violations at this juncture,” Ziegler said, while noting that Lilly delivered the millions to Poetry with a very broad mandate for how it was to be spent.

    At the center of the controversy is Barr, an investment banker before being named the foundation’s president in 2004. He is also a poet, joining T.S. Eliot in the slim ranks of poet-bankers, and his management style is in the tradition of Chicago’s make-no-small-plans spirit.’

    Barr put one of the ‘volunteers’, his wife Penny, on the payroll for a few months, spending $23,000 on wages before complaints from trustees saw her demoted back to volunteer status, and this is the only act those defending the charges from the disgruntled ex-trustees, admit was a mistake.

    It makes fascinating reading. For example, the Foundations 20 employees, cost them $2 million a year in wage-bill, which is an average of $100,000 per person. If Don, Trav and Cath are three of the 20, this would explain much about there lofty detached manner of being poetical on Harriet.

    Barr’s wife created the foundation’s new Children’s Poet Laureate award, a $25,000 prize for nursery rhymes to hook youngsters on verse for life, and she has served on the board of a New York poetry foundation. But it didn’t help her cause to be quoted in The New Yorker magazine in 2007 as saying: “I’m not versed in poetry.”

    Some trustees questioned whether the foundation’s officers welcomed hard scrutiny. Before resigning in 2007, Michael Goodkin, a trustee with financial expertise in both the for-profit and not-for profit worlds, served on a committee monitoring the foundation’s practices. In his resignation letter, Goodkin cited “the attempt to make me Emeritus, when as Chair of the Audit Committee, I raised issues about Conflict of Interest.”

    “They kept trustees in line by threatening to throw them off the board if they misbehaved,” Goodkin said in a telephone interview from New York City.

    Exactly the kind of carry-on used with you guys.

    I remember speculating several months ago on Barr, putting forward one scenario which said, that far from him being concerned about the way the john doe posters get treated, the treatment you got, may be reflective of how it worked at the top, trickling down from the banker at the top, to the chaps at the bottom holding the mouse.

    Desmond

  8. poeblogger said,

    January 4, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Just to clarify on Griswold: The Female Poets of America was not compiled because women write a different kind of poetry but because (he believed) women are inherently inferior at intellectual pursuits and, therefore, it would be unfair to put the work of both men and women side by side in one book. By the way, he certainly should have been hated but, in general, he was not (unless you mean that he is hated today?).

    Griswold’s second wife was a man now? Based on what evidence? Though I admit the possibility, calling her a man categorically is an enormous stretch. He also does not call out Walt Whitman specifically as homosexual.

    I’m not going to touch the “Poe was murdered” thing. Yes, it’s a theory, but saying it without accepting any other possibilities seems odd.

    I’ve never seen Thomas Wentworth Higginson mentioned without his middle name.

    • thomasbrady said,

      January 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      Poeblogger,

      “I’ve never seen Thomas Wentworth Higginson mentioned without his middle name.”

      I’ve always called him ‘Hig.’

      Griswold was pretty universally reviled, believed to be crazy, but feared somewhat, because he was THE anthologist of his day. Fascinating character. As was Horace Greeley, the man who published Griswold’s obit.

      Lots to learn.

      Thomas

      • poeblogger said,

        January 4, 2010 at 4:49 pm

        I see a longer post on Poe’s death elsewhere; ignore my previous complaint.

        I don’t see a lot of evidence that Griswold was particularly “reviled” despite attempts to find it. I’d love to see who thought he was crazy – seriously. Is there a specific letter or review? Griswold is my cup of tea.

  9. thomasbrady said,

    January 4, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Lowell called Griswold a “knave.”

    Perry Miller (“The Raven & The Whale”) wrote of Griswold,

    “Griswold was about as devious as they came in this era of deviousness; did not ample documentation prove that he actually existed, we might suppose him… one of the less plausible inventions of Charles Dickens.”

    Ann S. Stephens, a contemporary editor and novelist said Griswold was “constitutionally incapable of speaking the truth.”

    I love this Griswold detail:

    “At the time of his death, the sole decorations found in his room were portraits of himself, Frances Osgood, and Poe.”

    –Rosenheim, Shawn James. The Cryptographic Imagination: Secret Writing from Edgar Poe to the Internet. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997

  10. thomasbrady said,

    January 5, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    Silliman’s blog (January 05, 2009) frets that our history:

    “ignores 95%
    of the New American poetry,
    all of the Objectivists.”

    We cited Donald Allen’s anthology.

    Our “history” was meant to do two things: 1. Give an overview from a “people’s” standpoint and 2. Supply a sense of what the poetry elites were doing. It wasn’t meant to explore self-infatuated circles of obscurantist self-puffery.

    “All of the Objectivists?”

    Objectivism is a bit of a joke, really, referring to a friendship between a few male poets, Pound and Williams and a tiny group of hangers-on rehashing another smoke-and-mirrors manifesto-angle; every one of the so-called Objectivists jealous of Edna St. Vincent Millay. Zero effect on the American public.

    But, to each his own. And we thank Silliman for noticing us.

  11. Christopher Woodman said,

    January 6, 2010 at 3:29 am

    To each his own indeed, and what a service Ron Silliman does provide to hold it all together!

    But my question would be rather, why include the 95% that nobody reads?

    Ironically, our list does include much of what is read, or at least what gets on the syllabus. But what it doesn’t do, and there’s the rub, is include some of the landmark events that at the time seemed to be the new direction of the new American poetry but which failed to make it onto the shelves of any actual people — even if the message is still proclaimed in class!

    In fact, any list as thorough (and therefore useful) as Ron Silliman supplies each week, and how he does it I can’t imagine, is still a symptom of just the malaise that our “Brief History” is attempting to illuminate. Anybody who turns to poetry for joy, or to alleviate sorrow, or to cast some light on the mysteries of life, or to love someone or get used to dying or just to sing and dance is not going to be helped at all, but rather stiffled. Because quantity is one of the most awful side-effects of the make-it-new drug that has infected modern poetry — and no site better illustrates the cancer that has over-run our present poetry-body than Ron Silliman’s.

    That sounds awful, but it isn’t if you’re an oncologist. You’ve got to know the territory of the disease if you’re going to begin to relieve it, and nobody knows it better than Dr Silliman!

    We’ll keep reading his blog for that reason — and we do hope he will reciprocate. Foetics as expressed on Scarriet is a new angle on a very old problem, and we feel sure that anyone who is interested in where poetry is going will realize ours is a legitimate point of view, and will want to keep up with what we’re saying.

    We have had the honor of being refused the mike by Poets & Writers, The Academy of American Poetry, and most recently The Poetry Foundation, no less, so coming here to hear us is doubly important. Indeed, we are saying something so uncomfortable that the largest poetry institutions in America are risking their reputations for fairness to prevent us from saying more. Yes, they actually ban us, in broad daylight!

    Has any demonstration ever been made less effective by the authorities putting up barriers, squirting water, or trotting out the dogs?

    Historically, can you think of any movement such as ours that has not in the long run profoundly affected human views and structures?

    Finally, has the world ever seen a larger poetry establishment, or more poetry professionals dependent upon larger sinecures, salaries, prizes and handouts? Indeed, has any other poetry culture in the world ever spawned such a behemoth of special interests and obfuscation, or so studiously hoarded the benefits all for itself?

  12. Desmond Swords said,

    January 6, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Oh, I dunno, Silliman, or Ronstar da Silly Mon (as I affectionatly think of him) is a top geezer, as they say in the working-class districts of England. A writer whose poetic is despised in America (and other parts of the English speaking world), by certain sections of the poetry scene, but viewed less harshly and even held in affection by certain strands of the global community outside (and inside) America.

    They say a prophet is rarely acknowledged as such in his own country, and Silliman, for me, falls into this category of someone whose gift with language and innate creativity has long been poo poohed by the more serious types, but who has proved himself as a pre-eminent force on the noughtie’s scene and what I admire about him, is that he is a bloke who has carved out his own niche, on his own terms, and whatever differences I may have with him ‘professionally’ – on the fundamental question of our poetics, he loves Poetry as he understands it to be.

    Though his passion in poetry is not mine, I very much respect the fact that Ron Silliman, whatever people may think of his poetry and opinions on poetry, is doing his own thing quite happily and rarely fgoams at the mouth anymore because he is in that place where people are listening to him and the war of the seventies when all his ilk were put-upon radicals, is over. I love the fact and think it perfect poetry, that the person with the biggest online presence, is someone whose ultra-modernist poetic some claim as wholy charlatan, is at the totally opposite end of the spectrum from Heaney’s.

    This is the natural way poetry exhibits itself, having two seemingly opposing and unrelated elements juxtaposed, that manifest a startling point. The Horace maxim of combining two everyday contrasting words to make an arresting combination. The ‘aroma of shadows’ ‘glint of grape’ and ‘hint of sledgehammer’, off the cuff think-ups, a general principle trying to articulate the fact that, we need Humour in poetry.

    It is perhaps the most important component to posses when discussing it, because the ‘jackals snarling round a dried up well’ that poets are depicted as, fighting over a very small territory and having theological fall-outs over what is in effect, unproveable fantasies, is too depressing when taken as seriously as football nuts do the Superbowl, McCain a presidential election or the million and one MLA contestants their route to tenure.

    Ron for Ard Ollamh.

  13. Desmond Swords said,

    January 6, 2010 at 11:42 am

    I bought Ron’s short biographical prose memoir book, Albany, when Salt had their ‘just one book’ crusade, launched when the editor realised they were in serious financial difficulties and set up a face-book campaign which went viral and generated the extra 400 or so percent of business needed to get Salt out of the woods in the short-term.

    I bought four, one of which was Ron’s Albany. I read it in one go and was struck by how inventive and original the arrangement of the material was. The book consisted of half, one and two page anecdotal narratives, the length of Pliny Younger’s Letters: short burts of writing which jumped around to and from different parts of Silliman’s life, not following a chronological order, but by the end the whole had made sense and the reader had a slim, concentrated biography of the man. Much more than reading his blog could give you.

    And his life is a typically American story of personal ‘success’ in the face of fairly poor odds. From working-class parents, problems in the family and yet Ron overcame all the obstacles in his way, working in the not-for-profit sector in the criminal justice system, San Francisco in the 70’s and living hand-to-mouth for many years. Reading it makes you understand why he is so passionate about the people and poets he is: because they were the ones he knew and loved and who shaped him into who he is today. Say what you like about his poetry, same as you can say what you like about anybodies, but Ron has earned his place, I believe and though not a massive fan of his poetry, I am of his prose, because he has an innate humor in him: the ‘kink’ that cannot be ironed out and which makes him a comedian, in my eyes, in the very best sense, of being human.

    Ron’s poetry news service, is unrivelled by anyone, and he displays an effortlessness about it, of pulling together the global poetry news, that can be mistaken for it all just happening without hard work, but is in truth, his hard won ‘prize’.