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Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


A lengthy review but worth reading and thinking about.

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/nov/24/are-these-poems-remember/?pagination=false

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Got curious, knowing nothing about her. Wouldn't have to agree with her in order to know I immediately find Vendler's thinking appealing. Not a theoretical framework in sight. And no Bloom like, augustan posturing. Just a reader whose vested interest seems to be poetry itself. Interview is long but worth the read. Maybe cherry pick a little.

http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/1324/the-art-of-criticism-no-3-helen-vendler

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Interesting review, Tere. I'll read the interview too. Well, she's no fan of Rita's, that's for sure,

Chris
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Seems to be the case, Chris. I was ill-disposed toward Vendler's review of Dove's editor efforts. Then I read the interview To say the least her critical acumen is sharp. Solid too.

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Terrific interview, Tere. Thanks for it,

Chris
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Here's a link to an article re: the controversy
stirred up by Vendler's review:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-24019850-fighting-over-the-poets-who-express-americas-story.do
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Plath omitted? A major poet of the Century's second half omitted?

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


I read some of this before being pulled away the other day. Thanks for posting this, Terreson. More grist for the mill. Zak
Dec/19/2011, 7:25 pm Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


I do not understand partisan bickering among poets. A good friend, excellent man, a defender and promoter of poets and poetry, posted a message about the Vendler/Dove controversy on FB. I commented. It didn't take long for the exchange to go south, way south. I felt Vendler's review had a point. Still do. My friend set out to defend Dove, felt the review was unwarranted, even uncalled for. Quickly there was nothing I could say that wasn't interpreted as slighting of Dove, even insulting.

Especially after having read the Vendler interview, posted above, I am persuaded she is a fair critic, nor ideologically biased. Also having read Dove's lengthy defense of her anthology, barb peppered to say the least, I find her position weak.

But why can't poets go after differences of opinion without feelings getting hurt? Makes no sense.

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Here's another take on the controversy:

"Race and American Poetry: Dove v. Vendler" By Jonathan Farmer

http://www.themillions.com/2011/12/race-and-american-poetry-dove-v-vendler.html
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Based solely on reading Vendler's review and Dove's response to it, I agree with James Fenton that "She [Vendler] gets much the better of the argument, and that's that." Although I easily read Vendler's essay, I had to force myself to finish Dove's response. It felt like Dove was trying too hard to make her points, and in a way that wasn't particularly compelling but rather boring. She's too much on the defensive I suppose with so much money and her reputation on the line.
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Thank you for the Farmer article, Kat. Don't entirely agree with him. But one point makes sense. Critics, and anthologists, looking to set standards of taste skew the record. Likely unavoidable.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Jan/7/2012, 12:38 pm
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


On further thought, the Farmer article brings something else to mind. Mind you, my interest in the Dove/Vendler controversy is mostly that of a gossip who enjoys the heck out of gossip. It would be a stretch to say mine is an academic interest. But it occurs to me that, almost even by definition, both critic and anthologist must become captive to their own personal tastes. From this perspective the Dove/Vendler thing amounts to a cautionary note.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


I came across these comments by Dennis O'Driscoll today, liked them and found them apropos to this thread:
 
There are rare poems—most of them hallowed and canonical—which are incontrovertibly, incontestably great. That they are beyond argument is registered viscerally by the reader: in breath catches, heart palpitations, psychic surges. Any critical account of such poems—ringing the changes on form and content, rhythm and image—will fall well short of conveying the full readerly cataclysm, the best measure of which is pulse rate rather than metre. This is not to belittle criticism—a vital and enlivening discipline, which transforms the solitary experience of reader and writer into an illuminating dialogue—but simply to concede that there is nothing even the sharpest critic can say about a great poem that the work itself, outgrowing all critical cages, will not exceed.

Any poem accoutred with unusual éclat or shimmering with irrefutable wisdom will stand out in an identity parade of poems, arresting my attention, irrespective of its style or subject matter. Subject matter can be a lure in itself, of course, especially if it touches directly on some aspect of the reader’s own life. For instance, workplace poems invariably excite my interest. Having been, for thirty-nine years, employed by Ireland’s equivalent of the IRS, I would devour David Foster Wallace’s The Pale King were it a fragmentary poem rather than an unfinished novel.
  
Imagistic flair is another inducement; simile and metaphor are poetry’s most economic, synthesising, multi-tasking tools. Exploration, however oblique, of big existential and philosophical questions will test the mettle of writer and reader alike. Meaning of life stuff. Poems pondering God and faith, cosmology and infinity, poems that gaze outward or blaze inward. Poems that convey mystery, that are perched on the cusp of the liminal. Unconfessional poems. Poems that do not ‘take reality for granted’, that do not assume everything to be knowable, that have the humility of Emily Dickinson’s ‘Nature is what we know— / Yet have no art to say— / So impotent our wisdom is / To her Simplicity.’

Great poetry and trite poetry exert a similar effect: both kinds impel me to write. Not the writing of poetry, but—however inadequately—of criticism: in a spirit of celebration or repudiation, as the case merits. Unless we audit what we read, and champion what we truly admire, some of the finest voices of our time and of times past will be silenced by neglect, elbowed out of the way by the charmingly aggressive networkers and shouted down by the loudmouthed attention-seekers.

Hardly ever has a poem prompted me ‘to jump up and go write right then’. But, in the presence of great poetry, I have so often felt that I ‘want to close the book quietly in awe and then never write again’ that my continuing to write at all can only be reckoned—like Oscar Wilde’s notion of second marriage—‘the triumph of hope over experience’.


http://poems.com/special_features/prose/essay_o'driscoll4x4.php
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Excellent article, Kat. I feel I know this man. His approach to poetry, poetry reading especially, is close and personal and that is how it should be. I am also struck by the panorama of his comprehensions, his capacity for the whole of poetry's range. The scene is in sore need of this sort of critic.

I am pleased with how the thread has used the Dove/Vendler affair as little more than a springboard for much more essential issues, issues essential to poetry sans the personality. That said, and served up on the sidebar, it seems Plath is not the only poet who got cut from the anthology's list. By report, Zukofsky, Reznikoff (both pioneering Objectivists), Niedecker, Sterling Brown, and as incredible as the Plath ommission, Allen Ginsberg got cut. What am I to make of this? What a mess.

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


I got curious. Question: so who all did Dove leave out from her definitive anthology of 20th C American poetry. Got lucky and found this on line.

http://www.pierrejoris.com/blog/?p=7483

I am speechless. Case worse than I thought. Loy, Riding, Blackburn, Padget, Rexroth. Whose America does her anthology speak of?

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


All these omissions make me question not only Dove's poetic sense but also her overall critical judgment. It's one thing to make allowances for an editor's idiosyncratic tastes; it's another thing to overlook lapses in critical judgment that would cause her to omit the likes of Riding and Rexroth, for example.
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


That is how it seems to me, Kat. Less a matter of personal taste, which is unavoidable. More a matter of an editor's responsibility to the canon itself. Mina Loy, for example, Pound called the best of the Moderns. Unless an editor can prove his misjudgment of her, that should be enough to suggest her standing. As for Rexroth, how can his standing be gainsaid? This is far more serious to me than the controversy surrounding the anthology.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Hey Tere,

I found this list of poets Dove included in her anthology I thought you might be interested in:

"Rita Dove’s just published collection is raising plenty of eyebrows: no Allen Ginsberg, no Sylvia Plath. We’re getting Rita Dove’s take on American 20th Century poetry and there are more than a few surprises. I haven’t been able to find a copy of the Table of Contents online so I’m just going to list all the poets in this volume so you get a sense of its range."

(arranged chronologically by birth dates)

 A Edgar Lee Masters
 Edwin Arlington Robinson
 James Weldon Johnson
 Paul Lawrence Dunbar
 Robert Frost
 Amy Lowell
 Gertrude Stein
 Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson
 Carl Sandburg
 Wallace Stevens
 Angelina Weld Grimke
 William Carlos Williams
 Sara Teasdale
 Ezra Pound
 Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)
 Robinson Jeffers
 Marianne Moore
 T. S. Eliot
 Claude McKay
 Archibald MacLeish
 E. E. Cummings
 Jean Toomer
 Louise Bogan
 Melvin B. Tolson
 Hart Crane
 Robert Francis
 Langston Hughes
 Countee Cullen
 Stanley Kunitz
 W. H. Auden
 Theodore Roethke
 Charles Olson
 Elizabeth Bishop
 Robert Hayden
 Muriel Rukeyser
 Delmore Schwartz
 John Berryman
 Randall Jarrell
 Weldon Kees
 Dudley Randell
 William Stafford
 Ruth Stone
 Margaret Walker
 Gwendolyn Brooks
 Robert Lowell
 Robert Duncan
 Lawrence Ferlinghetti
 William Meredith
 Howard Nemerov
 Hayden Carruth
 Richard Wilbur
 James Dickey
 Alan Dugan
 Anthony Hecht
 Richard Hugo
 Denise Levertove
 Louis Simpson
 Carolyn Kizer
 Kenneth Koch
 Maxine Kumin
 Gerald Stern
 A. R. Ammons
 Robert Bly
 Robert Creeley
 James Merrill
 Frank O’Hara
 John Ashbery
 Galway Kinnell
 W. S. Merwin
 James Wright
 Donald All
 Philip Levine
 Anne Sexton
 Adrienne Rich
 Gregory Corso
 Gary Snyder
 Derek Walcott
 Miller Williams
 Etheridge Knight
 Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
 Ted Berrigan
 Audre Lorde
 Sonia Sanchez
 Mark Strand
 Russell Edson
 Mary Oliver
 Charles Wright
 Lucille Clifton
 June Jordan
 Frederick Seidel
 C. K. Williams
 Diane Wakoski
 Michael S. Harper
 Charles Simic
 Paula Gunn Allen
 Frank Bidart
 Carl Dennis
 Stephen Dunn
 Robert Pinsky
 James Welch
 Billy Collins
 Toi Derricotte
 Stephen Dobyns
 Robert Hass
 Lyn Hejinian
 B. H. Fairchild
 Haki R. Madhubuti (Don L. Lee)
 William Matthews
 Sharon Olds
 Henry Taylor
 Tess Gallagher
 Michael Palmer
 James Tate
 Norman Dubie
 Carol Muske-Dukes
 Kay Ryan
 Larry Levis
 Adrian C. Louis
 Thomas Lux
 Marilyn Nelson
 Ron Stilliman
 Ai
 YusefKomunyakaa
 Nathaniel Mackey
 Gregory Orr
 Roberta HIll Whiteman
 Albert Goldbarth
 Heather McHugh
 Leslie Marmon Silko
 Olga Broumas
 Victor Hernandez Cruz
 Jane Miller
 David St. John
 C. D. Wright
 Carolyn Forche
 Jorie Graham
 Marie Howe
 Joy Harjo
 Garrett Hongo
 Andrew Hudgins
 Brigit Pegeen Kelly
 Paul Muldoon
 Judith Ortiz Cofer
 Rita Dove
 Alice Fulton
 Barbara Hamby
 Mark Jarman
 Naomi Shihab Nye
 Alberto Rios
 Laurie Sheck
 Gary Soto
 Susan Stewart
 Mark Doty
 Harryette Mullen
 Franz Wright
 Lorna Dee Cervantes
 Sandra Cisneros
 Cornelius Eady
 Louis Erdrich
 David Mason
 Marilyn Chin
 Cathy Song
 Annie Finch
 Li-Young Lee
 Carl Phillips
 Nick Flynn
 Elizabeth Alexander
 Reetika Vazirani
 Sherman Alexie
 Natasha Trethewey
 A. E. Stallings
 Joanna Klink
 Brenda Shaughnessy
 Kevin Young
 Terrance Hayes

http://georgekelley.org/?p=9892

Last edited by Katlin, Jan/15/2012, 10:36 am
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


The omission of Rexroth is unforgivable, IMO. He is one of my favorite 20th century American poets, so I am biased. Still. Someone pointed out in the comment stream at the above link, Dove omitted Louise Gluck as well. I noticed there is no Jane Kenyon either.
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Terreson Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Okay, Kat. Let's finish out this exercise. You've given the board a list of the poets included in the Dove anthology. Drawing on three sources, the third being my brain and my readings of 20th C. American poetry, here is my list of unaccountable omissions. I add that not all the poets I list are personal favorites. They don't have to be. I also add that almost all the poets I list have impacted the scene in one way or another. To me it is less a matter of taste, more a matter of what is essential to the canon of 20th Century American poetry. Here goes.

Mina Loy, Laura Riding, Robert Penn Warren, Paul Blackburn, K. Rexroth, Louise Gluck, Jane Kenyon, Zukofsky, Reznikoff, Ginsberg, Plath, Edward Dorn, Lorine Neidecker, Michael McClure, Cid Corman, James Schuyler, Ron Padgett, Rae Armantrout, Diane DiPrima, Thom Gunn, Conrad Aiken, J. Garrigue, Yvor Winters, John Crowe Ransom, Vachel Lindsay, Stephen Crane, Pattie Smith, Allan Tate.

The abscence of the these poets leaves me shaking my head. In several cases the head is left shaking violently. There is no 20th Century American poetry without, say, the likes of Loy, Blackburn, Zukofsky, Aiken, Winters, Ransom, Lindsay, Plath, Ginsberg, and Rexroth.

I am also a little puzzled. When and how did Derek Walcott and Paul Muldoon become American poets? Both by birth, education, and formative experience poets of the British Commonwealth, one of the West Indies, the other of Ireland.

The whole show makes no sense to me.

Tere

Last edited by Terreson, Jan/15/2012, 11:38 pm
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


So I'm confused re: the practical obstacles to publishing some of what was left out. Wasn't authorization to do so just denied or prohibitively priced in some cases? Not defending Dove, her response strikes me as hackles-up reactionary; I'm wondering which omissions were forced and which were by choice.

Chris
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Good question, Chris, and I can't answer it. Not a few of the poets I list are long since dead, dead long enough so that copyright protections no longer apply. There is also that a number of poets mentioned I find anthologized elsewhere. So I don't know.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Hi Chris,

At least these three poets were left out due to copyrights issues:

"Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg and Sterling Brown are left out of the anthology – although Dove explains in her introduction that this was down to a rights issue: Penguin's budget was not enough to secure rights to include their poems in the book."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/dec/22/poetry-anthology-race-row

Are there more, and if so, who are they? I'm not sure.

Edited to add: Found this quote about Dove's ommissions due to copyright expenses:

"Dove has revealed, however, that the excessive fee demands led to her leaving out fewer than a dozen poets -- a far cry from the whole forms and schools of poets that various critics have found missing. . . . She allowed in her introduction that she may have left some poets out due to "buried antipathies." Dove did not say whom, or explain why, leaving commentators to speculate[.]"

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/the-chronicle-of-higher-education/helen-vendler-rita-dove_b_1165115.html

Last edited by Katlin, Jan/15/2012, 6:06 pm
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


From the above link:

Dove has had most to say in response to Vendler. In her long NYRB response, she dismissed Vendler's claims to be making literary judgments. Rather, she wrote, Vendler epitomized the "hubris" inherent in "the reluctance of many scholars to allow for choice without the selfish urge to denigrate beyond whatever doesn't fit their own aesthetic."

Elsewhere, she has similarly wondered whether "this line of attack is a sign of despair or fury on part of some critics who define themselves as white -- whatever that means in our mongrel society. Are they trying to make a last stand against the hordes of up-and-coming poets of different skin complexions and different eye slants? Were we -- African Americans, Native Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans -- only acceptable as long as these critics could stand guard by the door to examine our credentials and let us in one by one?"


How else does anyone get into the canon except one by one and after an examination (by critics, readers and other poets) of an individual's credentials (in the form of poetry and influence)? I find Dove's conflation and inflation here to be both intellectually dishonest and morally reprehensible.
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Ah, here we go:

"What’s in a Name?" by Amit Majmudar

http://www.kenyonreview.org/2011/12/whats-in-a-name-3/

The problem with Dove’s anthology, even accounting for the issue with reprint fees, is that its title is at odds with its nature. An anthology in which Melvin Tolson is generously represented, W. H. Auden relatively diminished, and Sylvia Plath obviated qualifies itself as a personal one. Dove herself might agree with this. Hers is a personal anthology with a scholarly title.
 
In this case, I suspect the mislabeling has been carried out intentionally, in the spirit of revisionism. The goal is not an admittedly imperfect objectivity. The goal, with this title in place, is the pretense of objectivity. This pretense is necessary so that the relative representations of Tolson, Stevens, and Plath can carry authority. There is a limit, however, to how much reconfiguration is acceptable; at some point, the volume comes to seem biased to the point of scholarly unreliability. The title itself takes on the air of a strategem. To modify a phrase from a dead white male (Robert Frost), this selection has designs upon us.
 
The focus of a scholarly anthology is not simply the inflation or deflation of reputations. The inflated contemporary reputation of a Ginsberg is part of the history of 20thcentury American poetry; you cannot understand the subject without him. Tennyson is out of favor among most practicing poets today in a way that Hopkins is not, but it would be an odd anthology of Victorian verse that gave Tennyson two pages and Hopkins twelve. A scholarly anthology, I would like to think, attempts an assessment based on criteria that include but are not limited to the editor’s personal tastes, artistic influences, and affiliations.
 
In the end, though, the scholarly integrity of this volume was the responsibility of the publisher. The scholarly title, I suspect, must sell more copies than a universalizing or overtly circumscribed one. Dove’s anthology is personal and at times polemical; if either she or her publisher, or ideally both, had packaged the contents accordingly, much of this brouhaha might have been avoided. Bad publicity is better than no publicity, though: Given the press that this anthology is receiving, I wonder whether the brouhaha itself might have been the publisher’s goal. This anthology may well end up a publishing coup—one that comes, unfortunately, at Dove’s expense.


He nails it.
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


More on what is not in Dove's anthology from R. T. Smith:

Just as Dove includes many poems which are skillful and widely appreciated but just don’t rank as indispensible to me, she also omits some poets whose work seems to me seminal, not just in my private court of taste, but (if Pulitzers and other acclaim really mean anything) in the court of public opinion. Some of these poets, like Marie Howe and Charles Bernstein are not part of my private anthology-of-the-mind, not on my bookshelves, but I am convinced of their accomplishments and influence. Clearly Dove has done some of the same wincing while selecting.
 
The following list, I am convinced, belong in such a garden at least as much as more than half of those in the book. Maybe someday a Walrus or Caribou Press will invite me to muster an anthology, and then I’ll explain my quirks, some of which hinge on subject matter, others on prosody, narrative force, cultural position, God-knows-what.
 
Robert Penn Warren and these other poets from the past: John Crowe Ransom, Donald Justice, Kenneth Rexroth, as well as these established contemporaries, many of them winners of Pulitzers, National Book Awards, Bollingens and so on: Ellen Bryant Voigt, Dave Smith, Eleanor Ross Taylor, Claudia Emerson, Where there’s a pattern, there’s an agenda, and you can likely get a fix on mine. But also: Tim Siebles, Bob Hicok, Charles Bernstein, Marie Howe, John Hollander, Richard Howard, Wendell Berry, Brendan Galvin, Linda Hogan, Robert Wrigley, Jack Gilbert, Linda Gregerson, Lyrae Van Clief Stefanon and Louise Glück.


http://shenandoahliterary.org/snopes/2011/12/21/penguin-omissions/

I like Marie Howe, am not so fond of Bernstein but thought of him as someone who should have been included. Gilbert and Hollander were two names I noticed were missing. Hadn't thought of Berry and Gregerson until Smith mentioned them, but yes, definitely. Agree with you, Tere, about Walcott. Had missed the inclusion of Muldoon, but, yes, you are right that his inclusion is misplaced, especially since he takes the place of others who truly are American and deserving. Here's Smith in another article on the topic:

Three included poets whose work I greatly admire – Paul Muldoon, Derek Walcott and W. H. Auden – seem clearly ineligible for a book with this title. Yes, they all moved to North America and [have] spent many years here, but moving a kangaroo over here doesn’t make it American. More to the point, every poem, every line, every phrase from the minds of these poets bears the indelible stamp of their upbringing and education. Muldoon does a better job at disguising himself in winking erudition, but the spark of mockery, his deployment of the American idiom is uaually arch, skewed, thrawn, to borrow an Irish word. And if the argument of “location, location, location” carries great force and indicates transformation, then why is the same not true for Eavan Boland or John Montague, both major poets, wherever you corner them? But if the goal of the anthology is to display the landscape of poets who are primarily American for readers who are trying to understand a nation’s poetry, then these poets belong in some secondary volume, along with other notable transplants. An anthology, perhaps, of 2oth Century Poetry in America.

http://shenandoahliterary.org/snopes/2011/12/20/how-many-are-too-menny/

If we want to go the Irish/American route, how about Eamon Grennan?

Smith again:

When asked to say something about the Irish poets of his generation, a young Yeats remarked, “The only thing certain about us is that we are too many.”

My advice to would be canon seekers: Get in line and have your credentials ready.

Last edited by Katlin, Jan/15/2012, 7:43 pm
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Well done, Kat. Seems I'm not the only one with questions respecting who got put in and who got left out. Or why. What, for example, is a "buried antipathy" towards a poet an anthologist leaves out of a definitive, scholarly, anthology? (Question mostly rhetorical.) And I agree with you entirely. All poets are let through the door one poet at a time. It is how it should be.

I do not buy Dove's defense. I particularly do not buy her attack of Vendler for being some sort of (white establishment) gate keeper. What is happening here is that Dove made her selections according to standards, by any measurement, less than scholarly. Since Dove is a teacher I assume I can call her anthology less than scholarly without being labeled a gate keeper.

I can only come back to what I said above. What is essential to the canon of 20th Century American poetry? Leaving out Plath and Ginsberg, if you tell me Rexroth, Lindsay, Loy, Blackburn, Zukofsky, and Ransom are not essential to the canon I will tell you you don't know enough to be anthologizing the Century in the first place.

The best face I can put on Dove's project is that it is slip shod, shoddy, the hack work of a desk reporter.

Tere
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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


Hi Tere,

You mentioned Vachel Lindsay in your list of overlooked names, and today I came across this article I thougtht you might be interested in:

The Mystery of Vachel Lindsay

How did the most visible poet in America—and a father of the Beats—become nearly forgotten?

By T.R. Hummer


Early in 1914, having heard a young and unknown poet perform in Chicago, W. B. Yeats approached him and asked, “What are we going to do to restore the primitive singing of poetry?” That young poet was Vachel Lindsay. Yeats’ recognition of something unusual in the style of the performance was the beginning of a strange episode in American literary history.
 
Even dedicated readers of poetry in our own time can be divided into two groups: those who know Vachel Lindsay and his work, and those who don’t. When I was in my teens and 20s, the first group was by far the larger; now the latter is, and the difference in magnitude between them seems to grow exponentially with every passing year.


Hummer's essay does not address Dove's omission directly but focuses on a broader forgetting that is taking place and that Dove's omission will certainly extend and reinforce:

Success is instructive; abject failure is arguably even more so, and Lindsay embodies both. In the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s his work was widely anthologized and taught, until (perhaps) it became embarrassingly apparent that one of his foundational poems, “The Congo,” is undeniably racist (“Fat black bucks in a wine-barrel room,/ Barrel-house kings, with feet unstable”); interest began to cool, until he was evicted from The Norton Anthology, and from many, if not most, classrooms.
 
However, more than political correctness was at stake in Lindsay’s eclipse. The racism of “The Congo” is almost certainly unintentional, an epiphenomenon of a late Romantic valorizing of the “primitive”; even Yeats was heir to this problematic attitude.


http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/classic_poems/2011/12/the_mystery_of_vachel_lindsay.single.html#pagebreak_anchor_2

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Re: Vendler on Dove's anthology of 20th C American poetry


I found this article, "Shelf Life," by Jeremy Bass which includes an analysis of Dove's stated criteria and agenda:

Dove charts the dimensions of what she calls “my panorama of twentieth-century American poetry,” selecting work based on criteria that are at once wholly subjective and inarguably necessary: “Is this a voice that will be remembered? Did he or she make an impact that mattered?”

and:

In the introduction Dove discusses the history of American poetry in the twentieth century not as a purely aesthetic phenomenon but as one decidedly and unavoidably linked to social, cultural and political events. . . . She also makes room for outliers whose status as important American poets is often minimized or ignored, “the poor, the nonwhite, the female voices” who were kept “from being heard for much of the century,” or those white men who were overshadowed by their peers in “the cultural elite.”

http://www.thenation.com/article/164325/shelf-life

Bass also lists a number of omissions, including one I hadn't heard mentioned before: Jean Valentine.

Last edited by Terreson, Jan/28/2012, 8:22 pm
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