Mike Snider's Formal Blog at the Sonnetarium :
poems, mostly metrical, and rants and raves on poets, poetry, and the po-biz
Updated: 6/26/08; 9:11:57 PM.



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Sunday, June 13, 2004

What's truly comical is Ron Silliman accusing anyone of having a tin ear. Here's a sample of his own deathless-because-it's-never-lived poetry, from 2197:

   Fog rain forms is high for low tide.

   Locating prior concept atop difficulty.

   Blind talking about color.

   This is the hang-up between handguns

and sex.

   Poem is an end.

   There are warrior song within a kite.

   The long we read into the page, the

less certain it did it does.

   Here the cells are sickling.

   Noise on the bus on their way to this.

   We went fill through the loomy forms.

   We arrived at the small fishing sensi-

tivity just as the language worked its way

over the information.

   The loud inventory of an old ontology.

   Popcorn feeding at woman.

That's from the third page out of more than a hundred, but I doubt even Silliman could put the stanzas back in their correct order after they'd been shuffled. He might argue that, because of the form (click here and search for the title, 2197), ear has nothing to do with this piece. Well, his "ear" told him it was good enough to try to publish. Some forms are more equal than others, I guess.

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I just got back from the West Chester University Poetry Conference and I am immensely tired, emotionally and physically, so I'll have to write later about the enlightened and enlightening conversations, about finally meeting Jilly Dybka, about having lunch with Lewis Turco, about being hugged by Rhina Espaillat, about the wonderfully talented poets and critics I met at meals, in the dorm, and in Tim Steele's very fine workshop, about Dana Gioia and Paul Salerni's new opera Tony Caruso's Last Broadcast, about Anthony Hecht and Paul Lake on the Religion and Poetry panel, about the extraordinary readings by Tim, Rhina, Lew, Sam Gwynn, Fred Chappell (he read only his student's work, and it was wonderful), Diane Thiel, Mark Jarman, Emily Grosholz, Molly Peacock, B. H. Fairchild, David Yezzi, Robert Darling, Meg Schoerke, Marilyn Nelson (a heroic crown of sonnets for Emmett Till), Glyn Maxwell, Kim Addonizio with her harmonica (Fairchild said "I know I'm supposed to give a poetry reading, but I feel like I should take a cold shower"), H. L. Hix, and David Mason. After things like marrying Deana or watching my daughter's birth, the last four days were among the best of my life. So I'm feeling charitable.

I've suggested before that Jonathan Mayhew doesn't understand how to read metrical poetry by people born after about 1930, and, after all, he did provide a link to the complete poem, so it is possible that he simply doesn't know how to read Tim Steele's rather beautiful "Toward the Winter Solstice." But, while I'm feeling charitable, some advice, Jonathan—the next time you want to talk trash about a poem, don't post just the second of five stanzas by someone who understands modulation and dynamics.

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