Monday, August 01, 2011

"American Poetry Has Entered Its Big Hair Phase"

Daniel Nester interviews Micah Robbins.

Nester: My latest shibboleth—I’d like to run it up the pole here for you and see what you think, and I am sure I am wrong, because I usually am and I’m, like old now—is that we have reached a period of late style, where the already bankrupt aesthetic battles of yore—lyric versus narrative, Ron Silliman’s Post-Avant versus School of Quietude, subjective versus written-for-the-ages—have all been decided on. We’re all to be lyric, subjective, post-avant poets now, and that’s that. Baudelaire used the term “Rococo Romanticism,” and I think American Poetry has entered its Big Hair Phase.

Robbins: I find this both depressing and hilarious! And I don’t disagree with your assessment. I’m imagining Charles Bernstein, Kenny Goldsmith, Christian Bök, and Ron Silliman in leopard print spandex and frilly boas dancing around to “Rock You Like A Hurricane”! Ahhhhh. No! Someone make them stop!
OK. So what do we do about it?


  1. I liked reading all of that. I've been talking about contemporary poetry having become Mannerist for awhile now. The excerpt above made me feel good, because it was one of the first times I've felt like someone else understood what I've been saying for a couple of years now. Thanks!

    The other side of this revelation is that it seems to me that people ARE doing something about this state of affairs—and this is a good example of who is doing it, and how they are getting it done.

  2. I think it was the best critic of all time, Randall Jarrell, who said that after "modernism," there simply wasn't anywhere else to get to on that road.