Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ron, a Language Poet?

When my son, Said, took an English course at UC Berkeley taught by Lyn Hejinian, she said in one of her lectures that Ron Padgett was a language poet. Now, Ron has always been one of my favorite poets, maybe even my favorite poet, period. And I have never thought of him as a language poet. He is, I think, many kinds of poets at once, and that's one of the things that makes him so great. Yeah, there's some language poetry in him (or, I should say, some poetic techniques he uses that the language poets, who came later, have borrowed from him, John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch), but he has a lot of moves that the language poets don't have, and probably don't even approve of, since they tend to be a bit dogmatic in their attitude toward poetry. Interesting thing is that Lyn Hejinian is one of the few language poets whose work I actually enjoy reading, and I enjoy reading her work because, to me, it's not really all that similar to what is normally categorized as language poetry. Maybe we should stop attaching labels to poetry. Maybe it's enough to read a poem and either like it or not like it, or do something in between liking it and not liking it. Yeah, let's do that.

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