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The Positions

Aaron McCollough
has a very thought provoking response to Ron's poetry test.

The rapid response (myself included) to Ron's poetry test seemed in part motivated by approval.

How smart can I sound so Ron will like me? Does Ron ever read my blog?

The Patchen poem Aaron looks at is a very interesting example.

I feel torn between wanting to find the little things that don't jive with the current allowed positions and letting myself feel the lines Aaron singles out.

In short, I am afraid of letting down my guarde.

Patchen's poem is not cynical enough. It's too sure and satisfied. Satisfaction equals complacent. Complacent equals apolitical. And so on.

I feel torn constantly between choosing a position, a stance, and hunkering down or mixing it all up.

I don't want to be wishy washy but I don't want to narrow my experiences too much.

Transgressions moves into acceptable position(s) and the acceptable position(s) move into transgressions.

What if I secretly like Jack Gilbert with all his wisdom claims and quiet soft spoken image making?

Why don't we all fess up to the poets we like who are not allowed into the current "scene(s)?"

It is irresponsible to lump Jack Gilbert with Billy Collins as belonging to the school of quietude as much as it is to say Dean Young and Ron Silliman
belong to the school of language poets.

Neither position tells me anything. It only dismisses.

It is catch all, we've got an enemy and something to prove. We'll lump you but don't lump us.

I learned a few things from Ron's test. But mostly I learned about power. Seeking approval. How to win friends and influence people.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying I am immune to this. I want to be liked as much as the next person.


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Another Ireland: Part Two
Maurice Scully, The Basic Colours. Durham, UK: Pig Press, 1994.
Geoffrey Squires, Landscapes and Silences. Dublin: New Writers' Press, 1996.
Catherine Walsh, Idir Eatortha and Making Tents. London: Invisible Books, 1996.

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I began the first half of this article (Notre Dame Review #4) by mentioning some of the limits to the legendary hospitality Ireland has shown to its poets. If you arrive in Ireland from any point of departure outside of Eastern Europe, you will indeed find a public far more willing than the one you left behind to grant poets the recognition all but the most ascetic secretly crave. However, this hospitality has never extended to Irish poets w…