Saturday, December 22, 2007

one-eyed poetry

The poets who founded the Berkeley Review were deliberate moderates. They admitted that they were one-eyed poets, although the ideal is the poet with both eyes open. Political poets had been one eyed, too, but it's the other eye, so the two - the Berkeley moderates and the old rads - share the fate of the half-done not-great, and yet they can be said to be opposites. Such a classic (and typically confused) metaphor of the post-political moment.

more than political

They felt that the artist's encounter "with the cosmos" was a real thing and shouldn't be avoided or ridiculed in poetry. It was real and so "is our desire for its expression--not to create another conformity but to encourage those who feel the discomfort of our modern existences [sic] in more than topical, political and material terms."

poetry is going to be okay

The editorial statement--I've quoted from it just above--launching this poetry magazine in the late 1950s made these points:

[] poetry is alive and well; don't worry so much about its fate or future;
[] the political periods are over and no longer affect poetics;
[] we need a verse that is more subtle - an accepting and tolerant verse
[] nature poetry is okay;
[] "partisans of the pure" are okay but there are many kinds and all are fine.

pure politicoes, pure lovers...what's the diff?

Here are a portion of this centrist manifesto:

"We do not contemn the pure nature poets; we greet them as compatriots of another eye, as, too, with pure politicoes and pure lovers--or any other partisans of the pure--but we have chosen to close the one eye, and they the other. Yet, in our half-blindness, we still search for a two-eyed king; we pray for a three-eyed god.

"We welcome the nihilist and the zealot equally, and those struggling to account for themselves at points between. We open to those who celebrate man's existence and man's end: to those who, either having or lacking it, pursue a faith and a meaning; to those who, under the dipolar pull of the scientist and the ad man, have seen the bottoms bared and, torn away, find themselves lost - or have found themselves.

"We feel that this is a need, too clearly marked in our society today, and that many of the one-eye poets have fixed their single beams upon this point. If this magazine can become a rallying point for these, then our major function is served."