Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Michael Draws His Wu-Tang Sword

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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Whoosh!

3 comments:

Matt Ellsworth said...

Wow. I think if Schiavo was a U.S. attorney instead of a poet, he'd be Patrick Fitzgerald.

And: I'm really glad I'm not Matthew Dickman.

Collin Kelley said...

Matthew Dickman's poetry does little for me, but Schiavo's review is so vitriolic and personal that it becomes nothing more than a bitter, envious rant. It's William Logan territory.

Anonymous said...

This review is so mean-spirited it borders on cruel. Of course there has always been, and should always be, a place for a negative book review in American poetry. But this absolutely goes too far. His attacks are too personal, and your justification for their relevancy is abysmal.

And: are we allowed to call foul on the fact that Michael Schiavo and Matthew Dickman KNOW each other and have quite a bit of personal bad blood between them? Michael saw fit to expose every other thread of connection Dickman has (and what poet, PS, is writing in a void, knowing no one in the writing community? Why is this so shameful?), how did he forget to mention that small and potentially discrediting fact?