Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poetry Quiz!

OK, which famous poet whose name is never uttered by cool po-folks of the 21st cent. said the following:

"You get more credit for thinking if you restate formulas or cite cases which fall easily under formulae. But all the fun is outside, saying things that suggest formulae but won't formulate - that almost but don't quite formulate."


"The poem must have as good a point as an anecdote or a joke. It is the more effective if it has something analogous to the practical joke - an action - a 'put up job'..."


"Performance in poetry and in life is recognition and admission of the fact that things are not to be too well understood."


"The tone of plain statement is one tone and not to be despised. All the same it has been my great object in poetry to avoid the use of it."

No cheating by using Google!

The truth is, one imagines, that the publishers—seeing their best and their least products received with a uniform equanimity—must be aware that the drama of the book world is being slowly, painlessly killed. Everything is somehow alike, whether it be a routine work of history by a respectable academic, a group of platitudes from the Pentagon, a volume of verse, a work of radical ideas, a work of conservative ideas. Simple “coverage” seems to have won out over the drama of opinion; “readability,” a cozy little word has taken the place of the old-fashioned requirement of good, clear prose style, which is something else. -- Elizabeth Hardwick, ca. 1959

The enemy is nobody, the anger involves nobody. One goes from humility to anger, from anger to humility: to write as well as one can, not in order to be better than the others, but in order to contribute to the elaboration of a text the aim of which is to represent neither me nor the others; to advance unarmed across the paper, to lose oneself in the act of writing, to be nobody and oneself at the same time. -- Octavio Paz


Joel Brouwer said...

No one but Frost talks like that. Who else could it be? Who else would talk about "fun" and punch lines? The pretense of unpretentiousness is totally Frosty. Second guesses Alan Dugan (no published prose, tho, I don't think), Robert Bly (no; the diction's too grand), Richard Hugo (could well come from Triggering Town), Donald Hall, or -- putting $1 on a longshot is what the railbirds call a "value bet" -- William Matthews lying on the lawn staring up at the stars at Yaddo after a bottle of wine, circa 1983.

These words were not written by a woman. Why do I know that? Weird.

Don Share said...


Frosty it is. I love your other guesses, too., esp. Matthews at Yaddo (though I'd have said Bread Loaf).

But come to think of it, why didn't Dugan publish any prose? He always said the nastiest most marvelous things...

I suppose you'd know it's not Hugo 'cos there's no geography or Boeing stuff in the quotations, but hey.

Matt said...

"The poem must have as good a point as an anecdote or a joke. It is the more effective if it has something analogous to the practical joke - an action - a 'put up job'..."

before i even read the answer, i was about to say that this sounds like something a stodgy old philistine would say...

Don Share said...

He's so stodgy he's dead! And he was ahead of his time in his philistinismry.

Henry Gould said...

Do I get the latecomer award?

I read the quotes & immediately thought, "Frost".

(& that's to Frost's credit, not mine!)

Joel Brouwer said...

Hooray for me!

Frost a philistine? Check yr dictionary. Stodgy, yes, but no philistine.

Don Share said...

A prize. We haven't discussed a prize. How 'bout a copy of Squandermania?

Joel Brouwer said...

Ooh! Then I'll have two. Stereo sound!

Michael Robbins said...

Damn it, I'd read two of those before but am too late to win.

How could anyone not think, while reading him, that he's the most terrifying poet ever? And completely fucking smart. Philistine?! Smile when you say that.

(btw my seidel review is in lrb this week kthxbye)