Today, Public Discourse publishes Micah Mattix's review of The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking. Mattix does not even call me angry once; in lieu of such useful denunciations, he offers critical engagement:
Wilson argues that much contemporary poetry is not an attack on patriarchy but an attack on form itself and, therefore, life. It does not lead us to a greater understanding of the “intellectual soul”—that is to say, a coherent, unified entity—but rather offers a false promise of “the body’s absolute liberation from the conditions of its existence—beginning with those ties that do, but should not, bind: body, form, truth, goodness, self-diffusiveness, fertility, and life.” Contemporary poetry is a form of “unbeing” or “unmaking” that is not unrelated to other attacks on life in our culture.
In a short survey of contemporary poetic devices, Wilson argues convincingly that the goal of cacophony, clashing images, and fragmentation in contemporary poetry, among other things, is to undermine supposedly bourgeois conventions in the name of aesthetic, sexual, or moral freedom. What such poetry actually does, however, is merely to replace one set of conventions with another, kicking the unattainable can of freedom further down the road.
To read the whole review, click the PD logo. For more discussion of the book, or to purchase a copy, click the book cover.
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