Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Who in their right mind would want to draw a strong line of demarcation between one "generation" and the next? In reading, editing and thinking around poetry I've resisted this tendency toward privileging one generation over another, periodizing, caging. I recall reading a wonderful statement by Phillip Whalen which, if i can crudely paraphrase, goes: There is no generation gap / scratch an American smell a cop. And in the 1970s it seemed perfectly natural for the Language Poets to absorb Jackson Mac Low, who had been producing textual and visual work since the mid-1940s, into the sphere of their own poetic production.

This to say, I was quite excited to come across the following statement in a letter from Pound to Zukofsky:

What's age to do with verbal manifestation, what's history to do with it,—good gord lets disassociate ijees—I want to show the poetry that's being written today—whether the poets are of masturbating age or the fathers of families don't matter.

And though he exlcuded Rexroth, Don Allen did, after all, include a fifty year-old Charles Olson in his NAP anthology. As a close friend often says, time is fascist—and those editors and anthologists hell bent on periodizing are, more often than not, the shock troops of this fascism. And the drive to bring out hack work by younger poets—aren't we tired of privileging youth, lusting after it, exalting it? Yo—I don't want some kid's crayon drawing on my fridge, nor do i want them anthologized, bound and on my bookshelves.