The Hillary Poets of the Hillary Resistance
Poetry has become very important again, at least according to New York Times hack-journalist-for-the- publishing-and-literary world Alexandra Alter. In her article, “American Poets, Refusing to Go Gentle, Rage Against the Right,” she quotes a number of Hillary poets, though somehow doesn’t mention Hillary in it. Under the previous political regime, the poets were conspicuously silent… or rather lap-doggie. Poet Jane Hirshfield explains: “When poetry is a backwater it means times are O.K. When times are dire, that’s exactly when poetry is needed.” Yes, everything was wonderful under Obama and yes, somehow poetry will take down he, who Hillary couldn’t.
Across the nation today, poets have awakened and are walking like groupthink zombies out of the “backwater,” though only partially, because they’re still holding their PC-pens and writing from the confines of their groupthink “backwater” safe-spaces. They are raging, though not against the poesy establishment, not against the poesy academy chancellors, not against the black poesy laureate autocratically-anointed by the black Librarian of Congress appointed by the former black president, not against the poesy academic gatekeepers—those poesy executive directors of poesy societies and poesy academies and publishers of establishment poesy rags—, not against their well-fed poesy idols usually entrenched in academic sinecures, and not against the inherent corruption in the according of poesy stipends, poesy grants, and poesy tenure slots.
Most poets couldn’t even fathom questioning and challenging such things and persons. After all, doing that would mean being free-minded and going against the academic grain, rocking the establishment boat, and bucking the literary system, those giant hands that feed only poets in lockstep. Not a good poesy-career move at all! Far too risky! Far too much individuality required!
As for the new raging verse, Jeff Shotts, one of those poesy executive editors (Graywolf Press), argues: “This isn’t just confessional poetry, but poetry that’s meant to stir us into action.” Action for Hillary, the Prevaricator, once again in 2020? Action for more Russian-collusion inanity? Alter informs that the poets are forming part of the Hillary-resistance movement (without mentioning Hillary of course). Will their icon Maya Angelou step out of her academic cocoon to denounce Trump? Well, I guess not. She’s dead. “There’s going to be a major shift in our poetry,” announced Alice Quinn, yet another of those poesy executive directors. Poetry Society of America is her fiefdom, you know, that members-only society, where only members can anoint new members. “The poems that I have been reading, which are freshly minted, most of them, have a powerful sense of urgency and reckoning and responsibility,” she stipulates. Responsibility to speak truth as staunch individuals and to poesy-power figures like her? Of course not!
Self-declared gender-free poet Danez Smith, whose verse is used by Black Lives Matter, provides some lines of “urgency and reckoning”: “on the TV/ is the man from TV/ is gonna be president/ he has no word/ & hair beyond simile/ you’re dead, America.” Brilliant! Daring! Original!!! Well, apparently Alter must think so. “We turn to poems in moments of crisis for comfort,” announces Jennifer Benka, yet another of those poesy executive directors. Yes, poets with lofty titles! Her fiefdom is the omnipotent Academy of American Poets. Dare criticize it and be banned forever! Yes, that’s what happened to me quite a while ago! Read all about it here! After all, curiosity didn’t kill the poet, PC-groupthink did that! Do the Hillary poets care about my banning? Of course not!
“We’ve seen this spontaneous swell of people coming to read poems that speak to this moment,” says Benka. Oh, yeah, now they’ll be putting some of those Academy-approved poems in those academic safe-spaces next to the crayons, legos, and teddy bears!
Alter informs that “Poetry readings around the country have come to resemble leftist political rallies.” Does she mean the violence and rioting against those with the wrong opinions? Such rallies are of course not inclusive or at all open to diversity of thought and remind of Stalinist Pravda poetry and of the incarcerated Cuban poets, who could not and did not walk in lockstep with the communist Castro regime, the one praised by, well, you know.
According to Alter: “Major publishing houses are rushing out their own volumes” of resistance verse. And yet what is really needed is a drain-the-poesy-swamp movement, not more poesy-swamp- creature empowerment under the guise of resistance. Alter notes, for example, that Boston Review published “Poems for Political Disaster,” which has a foreword by academic poet laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, and includes poems by academics Stephen Burt, Monica Youn and Jorie Graham. Alter, however, does not inform that they are indeed academics and, of course, is incapable of questioning and challenging the poesy establishment. Her job depends on that incapacity. All she can do is ahh and ooh before elitist establishment names and titles. Can she and those establishment poets possibly comprehend the words of Emerson, which inevitably damn them? “I am ashamed to think how easily we capitulate to badges and names, to large societies and dead institutions. Every decent and well-spoken individual affects and sways me more than is right. I ought to go upright and vital, and speak the rude truth in all ways.”
Interestingly and again without any manifestation of capacity to question and challenge, Alter notes “But poets tend to be liberal, and the submissions skewed heavily to the left.” But if the poesy machine is liberal then clearly the poesy machine will be actively suppressing poets not deemed liberal (i.e., of the groupthink PC-mindset). In other words, in the darkness of suppression, how can one know just how many poets might not be of that liberal-ilk?
Amit Majmudar, editor of Resistance, Rebellion, Life, a book of 50 poems published by Knopf, argues regarding to his call for submissions: “I was equally open to an anti-globalization poem as I was to a Trumpocalypse Now poem.” Was he sincere or would sincerity have eliminated him from being chosen editor? Likely the latter! Alter, again mesmerized by “badges and names,” notes poems by former academic poet laureate Robert Pinsky, Eileen Myles, Kevin Young and Solmaz Sharif will be in that volume.
Finally, most poets shamefully hate and reject vigorous debate, cornerstone of democracy. When criticized they will normally remain silent, especially if the critic is not of the known elite-poesy variety, or they will call the critic a “troll” or some other infantile ad hominem, or they will simply respond with vacuous politesse. Burt chose silence regarding my critical cartoon with his regard, “The Professors—Why Poetry Doesn’t Matter.” Myles called me a “troll,” regarding the critical cartoon with her regard, “The Poets—Identity Politics, But Still Bourgeois to the Core.” Majmudar chose the vacuous-politesse option regarding the critical cartoon on him and others, “Poetasters of the Resistance.” “Thanks for your creative engagement, George! Keep up the good work!” Oh, yeah. I’ll try to do that, Mr. Majmudar! And if he were not a flaming hypocrite, why did he reject my poem, “The Fall of Hillarius, the First,” but publish Frederick Seidel’s poem, “Now”? “Now a dictatorship of vicious spineless slimes/ We the people voted in has taken over.” […] Brilliant! Daring! Original! Now, if Alter possessed an iota of “fair and balanced” in her literary reportages, she would have included a counter sentence or even two in her extremely PC-biased article. Now, which establishment poesy magazine out there would be willing to publish this counter essay? Not one, of course! And that constitutes the core flaw embedded in the heart of the lit resistance…