The Constant Critic: Jordan Davis’s review on Michael Palmer and Dorothy Barresi

In a more recent addition to The Constant Critic, Jordan Davis reviews Michael Palmer’s and Dorothy Barresi’s newer works, while additionally discussing larger issues of what is being done through poetry and how poetry is changing.

One particular passage that discusses this is as follows:

“There’s a tendency in poetry of the last forty years, a decrease in paraphrasable substance, a diminution of affect and increase in aesthetic polish. This tendency leads straight to a hyperaestheticized (and campy if you ask me) kind of work that the popular kids wrote and liked five or ten years ago. The popular kids go to the moon. A very spare kind of mournful almost meaning-free kind of work. Almost—there are referents, something is being talked about—but usually it’s a break-up poem, a renunciation, a history of gardening. There’s a line at the end of one of the sections of Notes for Echo Lake, “In the poem he learns to turn and turn, and prose seems always a sentence long.” Not in my experience, it doesn’t—if anything, prose seems always to claim to be getting to a point that takes another sentence, while making sure you feel like you’re getting there each time. Some of it is beautiful and some of it leads to what the critic John Palattella calls the cul de sac, a safety aesthetic in which there’s no (these cliches are mine) risk no engagement with anything other than other aesthetics.”

To view the rest, please go to: Thread by Michael Palmer (New Directions, 2011) and American Fanatics by Dorothy Barresi (Pitt Poetry Series, 2010).

For additional reading on Davis’s review, please see John Gallaher’s response to the review at his blog, Nothing to Say and Saying It.

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