Name-checking the states of the Republic does not make your poetry Whitmanic. Shoveling pop culture references into sloppy lines does not transform your poems into Frank O’Hara’s. Using the phrase “cock ring” or alluding to the seduction of a friend’s wife does not fill your poetry with edgy, erotic energy. The words arranged in All-American Poem are simulacra of the vital American poetries introduced by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “The Poet” and running through and beyond the appearance of Donald Allen’s landmark anthology of 1960. These are poems written by a personality, not a person. They are Reality TV poems that demand you love them simply for being written down. Everything about All-American Poem is insulting and self-centered, from the content of the work to its (lack of) style or perspective to the very manner by which it was brought into the world.
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