Asketh and ye shall receiveth, Friends. Today we look at two Major Critics Writing for Major Magazines, who are Getting Down With the Young and Indie.
At Boston Review, Stephen Burt discusses and attempts to define an emerging school/movement/moment in contemporary poetry. He traces the [whatever]’s origins/motives/aesthetics back to Oppen, Creeley, and especially W.C. Williams’s famous declaration that there are “no ideas but in things.”
The poets of the New Thing observe scenes and people (not only, but also, themselves) with a self-subordinating concision, so much so that the term “minimalism” comes up in discussions of their work, though the false analogies to earlier movements can make the term misleading. The poets of the New Thing eschew sarcasm and tread lightly with ironies, and when they seem hard to pin down, it is because they leave space for interpretations to fit.
The poets Burt discusses include Jon Woodward, Graham Foust, and my friend Justin Marks, whose first book, A Million in Prizes, just came out this year. It’s a long essay and will give you plenty to think about.
Burt identifies Flood Editions as the preeminent press of the New Thing poets, so it’s sort of interesting that his essay doesn’t mention Jennifer Moxley at all. But Moxley is given plenty of attention by Ange Mlinko, in the Nation Spring Books issue. Mlinko’s review of Moxley’s new book, Clampdown (Flood Editions; and yes, named after the Clash song) is illuminating and persuasive; it also does double-duty as a thorough introduction to Moxley’s whole body of work. Subscribers and/or newstand buyers can also avail themselves of Joshua Clover’s take on a new translation of Baudelaire’s Paris Spleen by Keith Waldrop.
Also noteworthy is the poetry in the issue itself, including poems by Robin Blaser and Adrienne Rich. Also also, a not-poetry-related but Nation-related PS— Remember when my man Deresiewicz wrote this about James Wood? Well it seems to have peeved Vivian Gornick, and she wrote a long letter explaining just how and why. Her letter and Deresiewicz’s response are both here.