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Thursday, October 12, 2006

The Soft Racism of the Post-Avant

In between bouts of celebratory masturbation in front of a full-length mirror to mark its ongoing campaign against the SOQ (School of Quietude), Ron Silliman's heroic post-avant indulges a fair amount of what can only be called soft racism, and nauseating soft racism at that. Commending Gael Turnbull to us, Silliman writes:

The number of, to use Charles Bernstein’s apt phrase, island poets with an ear that makes sense to a Yank auditory canal is exceptionally small: perhaps, in the past century, just four – Bunting, Turnbull, Raworth, Thomas A. Clark. This is not to fault others – from J. H. Prynne to David Jones to Douglas Oliver or Allen Fisher – whose ears may well make perfect sense on their own terms, but who don’t, how shall I say this, travel well on at least that one level. But I do think it’s an enormous advantage in the pure accessibility of the work.

{Quotation ends}

So, without faulting Geoffrey Hill, Thom Gunn, Roy Fisher, never mind J.H. sacred cow Prynne, sorry, but your access to the sacred American auditory canal (by which we mean Ron Silliman's sacred American auditory canal) has been denied. Please get back on the airplane now.


Mark Granier said...

Yep, Auden's imagery was 'bland' and Yeats was dismissed as 'of no use to us'.

sean lysaght said...

I think the missing piece of the Yank auditory canal is the ability to hear 'ceremonious words'. American poetry is so tuned to the vernacular that it no longer recognises poetry pitched in a higher key.

Mark Granier said...

Got the Sillimen quote wrong. What he said was: "Yeats is interesting, tho problematic, operating out of a context that has little to do with U.S., frankly."
Frankly? Nah. Sounds rather euphemistic to me, a cagey way of saying: Yeats is a fucking bogman. Forget him!

Rob said...

Well, I replied on on Silliman's blog (when it will show up, I don't know). I dislike his 'SoQ' insult, as he seems to apply it to anything he doesn't personally like, which is quite a lot.

But I don't think he was being racist in that particular blog article. He was pointing out only that some poetry travels easier than others. That's how I read it. He was suggesting that Gael Turnbull would be more immediately accessible than Roy Fisher, as his poetry is closer to American speech patterns.

Whether that's true, and whether most Americans would agree is another matter. I'm Scottish, so I can't really comment on that.

Mark Granier said...
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