What happens when you cross the perfervid emotionalism of Edna St. Vincent Millay, she of the candle burning at both ends, with Charles Olson’s idea, distilled out of William Carlos Williams, of a projective verse imbued with “the breathing of the man who writes” (and I suppose it is very emphatically a man who writes the poetry that Olson had in mind)? You get John Wieners, one of the youngest exemplars of “The New American Poetry” as canonized by Donald Allen in 1960. Already at twenty-four, he was depicting himself on the verge of burnout, having “come to the last defense” — though in fact he’d keep writing beautifully for decades. Almost from the beginning, Wieners knew this: “The poem / does not lie to us.” Notice how different this statement would have been as “The poem / does not lie”; it might lie, but not “to us.” He writes, “We lie under its / law, alive in the glamour of this hour.” Yes, we lie, “dark people, who carry secrets / glassed in their eyes and hide words / under the roofs of their mouth.” His intense commitment to abjection is what separates Wieners from the poets he otherwise might have seen as his peers:
Now back to New York and The Turkish Baths
which I find no fun, tho Frank O’Hara does,
and Allen Ginsberg sits in his white pajamas
and dreams of men as I do—and thinks of fame
Wieners seems to accept what might have been an establishment view of O’Hara as too amusing and too amused by life to be a really serious poet, while Ginsberg by contrast takes himself altogether too seriously (in Wieners’ eyes) to face the misery of his position as a gay man in pre-Stonewall New York. Thinking about that sent me back to Bruce Boone’s 1979 essay on O’Hara, “Gay Language as Political Praxis,” in which O’Hara’s articulation of a position within a gay community is played off against Ginsburg’s way of distancing himself from the “fairy boys” with “no religion / but the old one of cocksuckers.” Wieners, who never stopped proclaiming himself the cocksucker, neither evades nor transcends the condemnation of the straight world, but demands it: “Damned and cursed before all the world / That is what I want to be.” Strange desire. And yet it kindles the “small fires / I burn in the memory of love.”
Moving too fast on your commute, looking out of the corner of your eye one second too late, and you might miss HOTTEA’s yarn installations.
Peruvian history is a contentious subject, and the authorities in charge of writing its first drafts should not be taken at their word.
Presented by Northwestern’s Block Museum and McCormick School of Engineering, this new exhibition seeks empathy at the boundaries of life. On view in Evanston, Illinois.
A little detail in an artwork can reveal that sometimes what is right on the surface can change our understanding of the whole.
Oh Shit! retraces the historical arc of feces from ancient Rome to the sewage challenges and potential innovations of the 21st century.
Located in Des Moines, Iowa, this residency for emerging and established artists includes studio and living space, a $1,000 monthly stipend, and more.
The controversial technology determined that the so-called de Brécy Tondo is an original by the Italian Renaissance master.
Specialists inflated the protest artwork as part of conservation testing at the Museum of London.
Fully-funded teaching assistantships are standard for MFA students at the top-ranked, flagship research university in the state of New York.
Some museums are opting for new language to describe the preserved individuals in their collections who were once living humans.
As art history buffs on the app have pointed out, both movements attribute meaning to the meaningless.