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  Did Ginsberg Ruin Poetry?
Posted by Syrah Merlot on 2000/10/29 10:41:41 US/Eastern

"I saw the best poets of my generation destroyed by Ginsberg...." This month marks the 45th anniversary of the first public reading of "Howl." It was an event which changed poetry. However, it was for the worse in my opinion, launching 10 million freshman poets off into the wrong direction of overblown rhetoric and apocalyptic cant.

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Re: Did Ginsberg Ruin Poetry?
by Aron Trauring on 2000/10/29 13:58:24 US/Eastern

Same claim could be made against Byron, Shelly, Whitman, Blake, Plath -- you name it. Wannabee Freshpeople will take any great poet and destroy him/her through bad imitation.

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  • Imitation=Play=Growth
    by Garreth Heidt on 2000/11/01 22:11:06 US/Eastern

    You speak as if imitation were the doorway to bad poetry. If it stops at mere imitation, then, yes, I agree, but we only learn how to become poets by first trying on the garb of those before us. Read anything on the writing and teaching of poetry by Kenneth Koch and you'll understand the power of imitation as a teaching/learning tool. (Don't art school students frequently visit art museums in order to study and "copy" the works of the masters?

    Look, if the poetry of an imitator never rises above the level of imitation, then yes, we have a problem. But to ask if Ginsberg ruined poetry....You might as well ask if Philip Glass ruined classical music with his minimalism, or if Hemingway ruined literature with his terse, journalistic style. We imitate to try out languages and to play until we find our own voices.

    Does Ginsberg inspire some bad poetry. Yes, I've got one student so enthralled with Ginsberg's poetics and persona that he writes cryptic and dense poetry filled with eastern religious symbolism. It's bad poetry, but it's my job as a poet and a teacher to help him find his own voice, and there's nothing wrong with starting here rather than with Eliot, Dickenson, Shelley, Coleridge, etc.

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