I've been reading casually in Swenson & St. John's American Hybrid. I'll have to read a lot more carefully before I try to say anything definitive, but my first impression is that there is a great deal of poetry here, but not so many poems. Another way of looking at this might be that many of the poets collected here are interested in texture at the expense of structure. For the moment, this is just a conjecture that needs to be fleshed out . . .


Henry Gould said...

I still need to get ahold of that book.

& would like to think more about Michael Theune's focus on structure, in relation to the Chicago School/Aristotelian concept of integral poetic form (which is not reducible to its linguistic medium).

The formal design of a poem is not reducible to its components, and it is distinct from any other kind of "form".

This form/shape/design can be analyzed in terms of its logical argument (its "turn", say), or its dramatic-affective impact (its "plot") - & the poem's language or style is also influenced (determined, in part) by these other elements.

This seems to be what you're starting to get at, Joseph, in weighing texture & structure in the balance... applying the plumbline...

J.H. Stotts said...

i have a few notes on dialectics and the syntactic/prosodic consequences of mechanical flight over @ jhstotts.blogspot.com

Joseph Duemer said...

J.H. -- would you consider posting them here?

J.H. Stotts said...

after a friend's wedding, i was stuck in a tennessee airport for 30 hours over the weekend, waylaid by the snowstorm along the east coast (nearly 1000 delayed and canceled flights!)--i waited it out w/o food or sleep for two entire days before giving in and renting a room at the days inn down the road.
the boredom, sleep deprivation and hunger were finally turned into gold when i caught my plane home and took these notes on the back side of my ticket:

part 1.

death (as religion/superstition)--
our imagination's inability to incorporate/integrate a heavenly perspective
is overcome by mechanical/industrial flight


the slow, syntactical death of flight (that is, syntactic demotion to idiom, from metaphor)


allowing organic (i.e., ne cliche) integration into poetic systems


promotion (through a core elision) of our prophets into poets

part 2.

this difference in flight complicates the system of metaphors
vis-a-vis the hawk, the songbird
violates the verboten status of the sky
extends the lyric mind/firmament equation
damages the auld formulations of time and space

--the extension and damage are contributions to lyric/military/telescopic, rather than to quantum/decon/microscopic, poetics (quantum/decon/micro tools=film, microscope, zoopraxiscope, digital)
these polar poetics are chronic instruments of tension)

tension=environmental or socio-poetic calibration

Michael Theune said...

Hi, Joseph,

Henry's right (and simply more timely than I!): this post really does jibe with some recent interests of mine.

Most significantly, you might check out a review I wrote (originally for American Book Review) that Mark Wallace posted on his blog:


Check out the February 10 post, and don't miss the comments here--I think this exchange is particularly smart and careful. (Also, some of the comments directly address American Hybrid...)

Also, you might want to check out this review in Poetry by Jason Guriel:


In this review, Guriel bemoans the decline of the singular, distinctive poem. I comment on this view, agreeing largely with the general idea, but disagreeing with its application.


Michael Theune said...


I'm in the midst of thinking more about the form/structure distinction as I work on a new book of essays: the critical and theoretical applications of the kinds of ideas found in Structure & Surprise.

I'm finding very interesting material, especially in regard to the sonnet-- I'm right now doing some close readings of some intro to poetry textbooks to see how they distinguish form and structure. Interestingly, while structure often comes up as the secondary term, there are many indications that structure has a more primary role to play. (One text, for example, barely mentions structure, but then calls the sonnet form the (I'm assuming lesser) reflection of structure...)

We perhaps have some poetic values that are ready for a little shake-up.

If this comes to something, I'll post on it soon.