Ran away with postmodern irony, eccentricized it to the point of meaninglessness.
I’m not saying I agree. I’m just putting this on the table, turning around, and leaving the room. Consider this your daily affirmation. Except, by affirmation, I mean this: something that will piss half of you off the the point of slapping your computer monitors off your desks.
On John Ashbery: “More responsible than anyone else for turning late twentieth-century American poetry into a hermetic, self-enclosed, utterly private affair. Displays sophomoric lust to encode postmodern alienation into form that embodies the supposed chaos of the mind. Though he has somehow acquired a reputation for the visionary (especially among the Brits, who think he’s the greatest American poet), John Berryman’s Dream Songs are infinitely more on the mark. Another amateur philosopher, like Jorie Graham, another acolyte of what he thinks is Wittgensteinian logic. Ran away with postmodern irony, eccentricized it to the point of meaninglessness. Now we have no working definition of irony anymore–thanks, John Ashbery! Mixes low and high levels of language, low and high culture, every available postmodern artifact and text, from media jargon to comic books, to recreate a reality ordered only by language itself. When reality=language (as his carping cousins, the language poets, have it, just like him), politics becomes vacuous, and any usurper can and will step in. Has been a Mannerist after his own outdated manner at least since Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Among the writers listed here, I want to like him the most–it’s too bad he’s been a parody of himself for so long.”
-Anis Shivani, in an article over at HuffPo called “The Fifteen Most Overrated Contemporary American Writers“. I checked; I’m not on it. Turns out I’m not American. Or particularly ‘rated’. Let me suggest to the blogosphere a single edit: let’s stop calling people “parodies of themselves”. It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just one of those inarguable things a young person can say about an older person. Here’s the matching take downs of Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham, Billy Collins, and Louise Gluck. from the same article. This thing has like 300 responses and counting. Anis is something of an anus. Either way, I’m impressed he thought enough about poetry to reserve almost half his hatchet swings for verse writers.