Sunday, February 4, 2007

Robert Frost Redux

I'm not obsessed with Robert Frost by any means, but this is 2 posts in a week. But, the New York Times had this great article about the battle between mainstream and avant-garde poets, which highlighted Frost's work.

It's very funny, because it balances between the seriousness of the debate (is language just meaning or a meaning unto itself) and the absurdity of the debate [it is described as, "a genuine aesthetic disagreement that is serious and important and (as one might say in Poetryland) worthy of a Panel Discussion, Followed by a Short Reception."]

According to the author, Robert Frost's work straddles the divide of using language in an everyday manner and using language to critique language. Of course, it's a precursor to advertise, er, review The Notebooks of Robert Frost, which have just come out. But the build-up to the review is priceless. It uses Frost's own quotes (without prior attribution) to make the argument for experimental poetry.

Can you tell the difference between the ideology behind...

“as soon as I start listening to the words they reveal their own vectors and affinities, pull the poem into their own field of force, often in unforeseen directions.” (avant-garde poet)


“the whole thing [poetry] is performance and prowess and feats of association.” (Frost)

I don't know if I can.