Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Who New?

An exchange between me and my old pal Bob Berner:

Me (Not super-original, but it was a throwaway line in a longer correspondence)
I think somewhere around our generation, the pantheon of influence shifted from Pound and Eliot to Stevens and Williams.

Bob (the good part)
Yeah, and even though Williams was still publishing when we were in our early 20s the influence was already in the process of shifting from Stevens and Williams into two streams,one coming from Ginsberg and Ferlinghetti and the Beats, the other from Lowell and Berryman and Ann Sexton. By the mid-60s you could say that the Tate-Ransom-Winters school was dead and that nobody wanted to write like Eliot, but a whole lot of people wanted to write like Lowell and another whole lot like the Beats.

So who's the model now? Certainly not Pinsky or Paul Muldoon or a ton of other leading lights we could name. By my lights, somebody starting out could do a hell of a lot worse than to look to Marvin Bell or to Phil Levine or to Lawson Inada or to Vern Rutsala or to Tad Richards to see how it's done.

Pax et Peredelkino,

Bob is loyal to a fault to his old classmates at Iowa, and I don't know that I belong on that list (all the others, old classmates except for Levine, certainly do). But I like his analysis. So who is the model now? Who for the generation that was young in the 70s, when the Beat/Academic wars were over, and Lowell and Ginsberg playing on the same team? And who for the 21st Century poets? Bernstein? Simic? The other Tate? Who?


Fart guy said...

People want to write like Billy Collins.

Tad Richards said...

That's probably true, and kind of a frightening thought. I like Billy Collins, but I can't imagine using him as a model, or wanting to read anyone who uses him as a model.

I'd put down Ashbery as another legitimate influence.

Which raises another question...are all the significant influences something other than straight ahead? In that case, maybe Collins should be considered as another route.

Or, God help us, Bukowski.