A response to the conference titled “Poetry Criticism: What is it for?”— speakers Marjorie Perloff, Helen Vendler, Stephen Burt,and Michael Scharf, moderated by Susan Wheeler, at Wollman Hall, Cooper Union Engineering Building, 51 Astor Place, New York City, sponsored by the Poetry Society of America, early in 2000.
ACCORDING TO a recent article by Ian Hamilton in the London Review of Books, Randell Jarrell's descent into madness, and his speculated suicide, were in part provoked by a negative review in the New York Times accusing him of “doddering infantilism.” Jarrell, who was hailed on the Poetry Society of America's panel “Poetry criticism: What is it For?” as being the model poet-critic, apparently could not take the blow, after having dished out a fair share of them for so many years as “poetry's high-purposed body guard.”
In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Museum of Modern Art presented “Transform the World! Poetry Must Be Made by All!” For a full hour, the galleries came alive with the sounds of spoken word, as poets read their own works and those of others. Ranging from emerging to established, from conventional to experimental, the poets demonstrated the varieties of U.S. poetry today as they performed under and in front of works of postwar modern art in MoMA’s collection. This event was organized by Kenneth Goldsmith as part of the “Artists Experiment” initiative. Lawrence Schwartzwald witnessed the event and took the photographs reproduced below, which are used with his permission; republication by permission of the photographer only.
Footage shot by Nathaniel Dorsky at the Arboretum of Golden Gate Park, a few blocks from where the poet lived in the Sunset District of San Francisco. It is shot on 16mm Kodachrome. With Rakosi is his companion, Marilyn Kane. Be sure to have a look at and listen to PennSound's Carl Rakosi page. (The film is silent.)
The following is an essay Kevin Gallagher wrote to introduce an extensive feature on the life and poetry of Kenneth Rexroth. The contents of the feature can be found on the main page of Jacket #23.
Now that his Complete Poems are laid out for all of us to see, we have no choice but to make room for Kenneth Rexroth in the canon. This special Jacket tribute celebrates the work of this great poet, essayist, translator and activist from the United States.
Rexroth’s poetry was not well understood during his lifetime. Born in 1905 in South Bend, Indiana, he moved to California in the late 1920s and remained there for the rest of his life. It was in California where he emceed the famous “Six Flags” reading that earned him the name, “the father of the Beats.” Rexroth hated such a tag and was known for replying “an entomologist is not a bug!” First off in this selection is Sam Hamill’s introduction to the entomologist’s new collected poems and gives new and old readers alike a snapshot of the life and work of the Kenneth Rexroth the poet.
Contrary to the popular label thrust on him, Kenneth Rexroth was a late modern poet, one of the early post-modern poets, and toward the end of his life (which ended in 1982) became an eastern classicist. Regardless of the form his poetry took, it always involved at least one of three themes: love, the natural world, or politics.
Matvei Yankelevich and Bernadette Mayer read at St. Mark’s Bookshop on East 3rd Street on June 11, 2012. Lewis Warsh hosted. Our favorite literary photographer, Lawerence Schwartzwald, was there and took this shot of Bernadette during her performance.