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reading Villon, or William IX, or start praising shopping centers — the shopping center does not represent a value anyway; and I don't think anyone should champion values they don't believe in. Even the term "middle class" doesn't seem of much use now, if everyone is middle class. Perhaps we might all be called "domesticated object-owners", with a liberal group, a leftist group, a right wing group, and an indifferent group. The poet can ask himself: is there any group larger than himself whose values he carries? Thomas McGrath's work is immensely lively. One could say that he championed the values of the revolutionary proletariat in work and life; then around 1947, as he says, they disappeared, "not hide nor hair of them seen since." His poems remain personal, and yet the values in them wide and nourishing. Gary Snyder's work is personal, and it carries values that the organic farmers and the whole Buddhist community carries. There are surely many ways of answering the question. We all know other American poets whose work answers the question — David Ignatow comes to mind — but not many. Perhaps we should stop being complacent in our belief that our only job as poets is to distill values from the being in us that is apart from community. We don't have to choose between that private being and the community. But can we be sure that pure values, the values of the self, are sufficient, all that can be expected of us? Frederick Turner's Responses Response to Mr. Kramer Mr. Kramer is a good example of the positive damage which has been done by the poetic establishment. He is clearly a dedicated poet with the highest standards and a kind of esthetic honor, whose work has been ignored or suppressed by the vested interests I attack in my polemic. The stories of dirty literary politics he tells are by no means unusual (as Mr. Weiss hints in his response). I have heard, from a source I should protect, that one poet who was going to respond to a recent article investigating the "poetic Mafia" was warned that if he did so the word would be put out and his work would never be published by a reputable publisher. I embarked on the heavy task of reviving The Kenyon Review precisely to counterbalance this aspect of the poetic establishment's activities, and Mr. Kramer will find that The Kenyon Review has indeed The Missouri Review · 292 kept its word about publishing the unfashionable forms he mentions. We would welcome a manuscript from him and from anyone with the courage to break out of the trend. One personal note: I only wish I were as powerful and arrogant as Mr. Kramer thinks I am — I might then be able to do some good. But to the real heavyweights like Messrs. Hall and Simpson, Mr. Kramer and I are of no more account than a dog barking at a caravan. We should go to them, the mullahs and commissars of the establishment, for lessons in arrogance. Response to Mr. Hall Mr. Hall's squeal of pain is satisfying to hear. The idealistic young poets Mr. Kramer describes may take heart from this that the poetic establishment is not as faceless and invulnerable as it appears and that it is not too hard to flush an apparatchik from his cover. The list of poets Mr. Hall cites as exceptions to my strictures includes Lowell and Berryman, both of whom I would adduce as "mighty poets in their misery dead" — casualties of those very attitudes that I attack and Mr. Hall defends. My greatest heresy was, Mr. Hall feels, to defend the middle class. It is precisely the fact that Mr. Hall does not feel the need to argue with this heresy, but only stands back with a gesture of horror, that demonstrates the deadly rigor of received opinion. There is not space here to properly pillory the shocking literary ignorance Mr. Hall has revealed in these pages. One example will have to do. The landed aristocrat Count Tolstoy — a rare example of a great writer not from the middle class — was...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 191-197
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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