[The following is an unedited response, initially posted on facebook. I intend to work my rejection into a larger piece of prose on politics, particularly in relation to contemporary western poetry and its more established figures. It was not only that Rothenberg had written a dull, predictably liberal response to the political zeitgeist that raised my ire… it was that he was also spreading his ridiculous propaganda regarding the American ‘Alt Right’ into the same facebook post that he appended to the online publishing of his poem. My response urges him to get brave and actually look behind the journalistic smoke screen]
The poem does not ‘work’ because it has come out of a post-liberal consciousness entirely on the wane since the first poem was drafted. You’ve got it entirely the wrong way round: the ‘minority’ you refer to is now the majority. And, of course, you’ll let others deal with it… because, as I say, you are a coward (and have written a cowardly out-of-touch poem).
To clarify my ‘baby-boomer’ point. Anyone coming into ‘adult political consciousness after WWII’ (and I knew when you were born when I made my ‘pre/baby-boomer’ statement. So the ‘I am not a baby-boomer’ statement is a cheap avoidance of the issue).
The following posters obviously don’t have access to any sound information on the Alt-Right, and resort to the usual liberal/post-liberal slurs. Maybe they’ve been dosed with multiple episodes of NPR or somethin.
In a way, though, I’m thankful for the poem… as it clarifies what I’ve suspected for about five or six years. That not a single English speaking adult poet who has gained any kind of artistic reputation in the English speaking world after WWII (and I include those consistently published on very small presses and giving semi-regular talks or readings of any kind) have the tools in front of them to glean what Brexit, Trump and the Alt-Right really mean. (And, in saying that, I wouldn’t put all my cards behind Trump but would see his rise as an indication of a philosophical turning point immense and, in the main, positive). And that there is a whole other pool of younger artists, researchers and writers that do. They are a ‘minority’ that the ‘majority’ are proud of. In their home-lives, in their social circles, and in their wider communities. If you want to know what the Alt-Right really means search on ‘Red Ice NPI 2016’ at youtube and you will have all ten hours of their most recent conference, without the usual journalistic misinterpretations, in front of you (there are two long videos… or the speeches themselves have been separated out and can be ferreted out). And note that, for ‘murderous fascists’ it is more than a little ironic that They are the ones being attacked violently during the course of this conference!!
I have spent a long time reading the arena of writers I mention. But no more. All of modernism was not sifted through entirely (including all of Pound’s output, for example… incl. Jefferson/Muss and the speeches) or thoroughly and effectively enough… and now we have reaped the consequences of that. Perhaps Lamantia will survive it, I’m not sure (for other reasons, perhaps… his politics I loathe though… and that would go for Eshleman and Alexander, also… they are unable to escape the post-liberal meme, although metaphysically interesting, and sometimes reassuringly Ickean). That strain of poetics is now dying, in Britain and the U.S, because it has managed to exist with all the wrong cultural reference points for decades. It is also dying because it is largely a child of the modern academy, and because it is a child, and prisoner, of a certain form of liberal governance (and that could include times when there have been ‘conservative/republican’ governments in those countries also). But, regardless, here’s to its quick death!
If you brought Yeats or Pound back from the dead and sat them down at an NPI conference I would imagine they would quite happily be engaged in what was being said. The problem is; between their era and our own (particularly the seventies up to the present) we’ve had an epoch of utter political stupidity, and the poets have wallowed in that stupidity more than most. And this poem exemplifies that.
I also find it funny that Blake was mentioned. A figure I believe is at least a proto-nationalist in his philosophical system… and the mythological elements at least imply it. That, ultimately, might be to reduce him (I’ll have a shot at writing about this soon) BUT I would prefer ‘the Blakean’ outside of the hysterics and whining that this poem employs, to say the least.
I will post this rebuttal on my fb page, and at my online mag; ‘The Fiend’, and have ‘unfriended’ you on here, Jerome… but if you ever want to find out more about the depth of discussion and philosophy your poem reponds to in a vapid and knee-jerk manner then by all means, seek me out. Otherwise, I’ll leave you to your blind, sycophant disciples.
Andrew O’Donnell, Nov 26th 2016