Saturday, January 27, 2007

Solid pork

Some particularly appealing sentences in Jim Harrison's NYTBR piece on Karl Shapiro and bourgeois poets (I have mixed feelings about this mode, but you can pull it off if the dandyish apercus are good enough):

. . . Shapiro’s notion of what a poet was implies the outsider, the outcast, the outlier, one who purposefully deranges his mind to write poems like Rimbaud, or one who could not walk, so borne down was he by his giant wings, to paraphrase Baudelaire. I must here imagine myself an English department chairman, who has to deal with these troublesome creatures, and say that a poet is hubris through and through in the same manner that an unruly pig is solid pork.

Or this:

Perhaps as a corrective and a cautionary, “The Bourgeois Poet” should be taught to the thousands taking M.F.A.’s in creative writing who wish to become poet-professors. As I said I tried it myself but found the work too hard. There’s a subdued but relentless hurly-burly in academia that swallows up discretionary time. It’s like living with a slight backache, not fatal but enervating. Besides, academic salaries are falling behind and it’s become questionable if poet-professors have truly achieved bourgeois status. Maybe lumpen bourgeois.

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