Jennifer Ashton, From Modernism to Postmodernism: American Poetry and Theory in the Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). [Michael Golston's review was originally published in the William Carlos Williams Review, Volume 28, Number 1-2, Spring/Fall 2008. Reprinted by permission of the author.]
I once had the good fortune to take a course with U.C. Berkeley’s Julian Boyd on the history of the English language. Occasionally, as a student in the class struggled with the finer points of deontic modality or the differences between “shall” and “will,” Boyd would suddenly glare at whomever was speaking and announce with mock sternness, “You are exactly wrong.”
Allegorical micturition has swept the guest halls of the art galleries and the undermasses wail in the background to iambic beat. Sludge is proclaimed sludge, hairdos hors d’oeuvres, as the soiled face of inverted cardioerasty—a.k.a. genital fetish—rears its mushy brow. ––from “Ambliopia” in The Sophist (1987)
The Jeff Koons retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art is to big art shows what The Little Mermaid is to big Broadway musicals: bright, breezy, and tuneless. Koons's art is a product of the Disnification of Warhol (and decidedly not the other way around). The show is worthwhile seeing as a monument to the most commercially successful aspects of the New York art market. As with the proverbial Chinese restaurant, with food shot up with MSG, you leave the show aesthetically hungry.
In the June 10 Haaritz, Linda Zisquit writes: "Had Yona Wallachsurvived the breast cancer that she chose not to treat – and that ultimately killed her in 1985 – she would have been 70 years old on June 10. Wallach, a controversial diva of Hebrew poetry, attracted censure, admirers and lovers for her eroticism, blasphemy and experimental Hebrew. She is best known for provocative works with fluid gender boundaries like “Jonathan,” from her first book, “Things” (1966); and “Tefillin,” from “Wild Light” (1983), in which a female speaker imagines donning phylacteries in a violent sexual context." (Zisquit translated Wild Light, a selection of Wallach's poems for Sheep Meadow Press published in 1997.) (Tefillin are used in Jewish prayer: two small leather cases containing portions of the Torah , which are wrapped with straps on the forehead and the left arm.)