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Classical Poets Live with Andrew Benson Brown

Episode 5 Parts I & II: Why Amanda Gorman Is Not a Poet / Building a Renaissance 

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18 Responses

  1. Joseph S. Salemi

    This interview with Adam Sedia is both informative and rewarding. It’s nice to hear the ideas of a thoughtful and articulate poet who takes tradition seriously, and who is not afraid to speak unpopular truths.

    I recall that article of his on Amanda Gorman published at The Chained Muse last year, and the explosion of vituperation that it evoked. Normally at The Chained Muse, a prose piece gets no more than a single-digit number of responses. The tsunami of comments (300!) showed that Adam had really hit a sore nerve, and the sheer venom of many of those comments was staggering.

    Why the enraged response? Simple — the essay had tweaked a sacred cow. Gorman (like Rupi Kaur) checks all the boxes for being lionized. She’s young, female, non-white, left-liberal, and utterly unconcerned with the technical expertise of composition. When Sedia showed that her writing could only be called “poetry” by massive distortion of that word’s meaning, the lemmings went berserk with rage.

    Attacking a popular icon is dangerous. Some of the negative comments made at The Chained Muse were so viscerally nasty and personal in their rage at Sedia that they shocked even a hard-bitten polemicist like me.

    When you manage to get your enemies to foam at the mouth, you know you’re doing something right. Thanks, Adam!

    Reply
    • ABB

      Thanks for your support, Joe. Glad I could give Sedia another outlet to discuss his views, because they’re important. I was hoping the radical crazies would attack me for the Gorman video, as they attacked Sedia. But either they haven’t noticed, or they don’t want to fuel me by giving me attention.
      The common response to Sedia—and to classical poetry in general—was that “not all poetry is white.” That was the top comment, and it put it in the nicest way. But the poetry of all cultural traditions on earth employs rules, whether basing the line on metrical feet or syllables, and if it doesn’t rhyme, like in OE, there is alliteration. It is an erroneous argument that highlights the laziness, ignorance, and racism of the speaker.

      Reply
    • Adam Sedia

      Someone I can’t remember said it, but I’ll quote him here: “If the left isn’t calling you a racist, you’re doing something wrong.” The apoplexy at my — I thought — rather restrained criticism shocked even me, but I wear it as a badge of honor.

      Reply
  2. James Sale

    Great intro and great interview. I really feel ABB is getting into his stride with this podcast and I urge all members of the SCP to see his work and like and support it. Currently, there are only 40 subscribers to the podcast – but with what? – c. 2000 members of the SCP? – there are far more people ostensibly claiming to love and write classical poetry who are not signed up. Please get on board and support this podcast by subscribing – Adam Sedia makes the point that the only way we can defeat the forces of ‘non/fake-poetry’ is by developing outlets that we contribute to. This is an extension of the SCP’s work, so we should be confident in supporting it if only to subscribe: that would be a big step – please do it! Your grandchildren will thank you!

    Reply
    • ABB

      Thank you, James. Your plea seems to have worked—got a new subscriber since you posted! (And two from a short I uploaded.) Will inch our way towards success.

      Reply
      • Damian Robin

        Inch our way towards success
        Much more will come from changing less
        Keep on the nose and take no bribe
        Come-on we others SUBSCRIBE SUBSCRIBE

    • Joshua C. Frank

      I don’t subscribe to either; I just go to this site and read the new poems each day. When there’s a new installment of the podcast, I watch the video on this page.

      Reply
      • Damian Robin

        Take the long view but do things in the present !

    • Adam Sedia

      It was great fun to give the interview, and the finished product testifies to ABB’s impressive editing skills. The video was incredibly visually stimulating, which goes a long way to enhancing the interview.

      Reply
  3. Paul Freeman

    Re the discussion about writers being revered after death. John Kennedy Toole’s mum got a barely readable carbon copy of his book The Confederacy of Dunces published 11 years after his death. Then of course there’s Emily Dickinson whose work came properly to light after she passed, and Steig Larrson whose Dragon Tattoo trilogy came out just after the author’s death.

    Although I was not too keen on Amanda Gorman’s inauguration poem (‘the belly of the beast’ was a lazy, cringe-inducing cliche which needed elucidation if it were to mean anything and put me off the whole poem), I occasionally use descriptive free verse to expand on my short stories by adding extended metaphor, alliteration, lyricism, etc, to the prose.

    That said, my passion as far as poetry goes is with traditional verse.

    I enjoyed the interview and the intro. They were informative and instructive. Thanks Andrew and Adam.

    Reply
    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Many poets receive no serious recognition until after their deaths. The work of George Herbert was ignored in his own lifetime, and was only published after his demise. William Blake had to publish his own compositions, and they went largely unnoticed. John Keats suffered only bad reviews, and died too early to enjoy any appreciation. John Clare’s work was dismissed as the stuff of an ignorant and mentally ill bumpkin. Even the Pearl Poet, one of the best writers of medieval England, had to wait 500 years before his masterpieces were finally edited.

      Horace wrote “Vita brevis, ars longa.” This means “Life is short, art is long.” Looking for fame and celebrity in one’s lifetime is what in Noo Yawk is called “a mug’s game” — that is, a pointless endeavor.

      Reply
      • Paul Freeman

        There’s a film on tonight about the life of Keats called ‘Bright Star’ that I’ve been meaning to see for a while. After what you’ve said above, I’ll make sure I see it.

  4. David Hollywood

    It is wonderfully uplifting to witness such presentations, and which consequently gives additional elevation to being a member of The Society by knowing trite is recognised and called out for what it is. I am weary of having to trawl through anticipated joy in order to find ‘real’ poetry hidden beneath the depths of absolute rubbish that pours out from pretentious writers who proclaim their right and brilliance to produce the written word according to their own inadequacies, and who then go on to pronounce their works to be poetry. Every now and again, it is important to see proper poetry is being protected, and hence why ‘The Society of Classical Poets’ website is such an important refuge. Thank you Andrew & Adam, and The Society.

    Reply
  5. Steve Todd

    Just spotted this after some time away. It’s refreshing to see this kind of criticism deployed so honestly. Subscribed – keep up the good work!

    Reply
  6. Alexander Lazarus Wolff

    This is spot on. Gorman’s writing is vapid and trite. She wouldn’t be able to stand on her own without identity politics, which, sadly, is the case with a lot of poets.

    Reply
  7. Evan Mantyk

    Ms. Gorman’s poem sounds like a 4 year old who just discovered rhyme and alliteration and is spewing slapdash attempts at profundity: cute but obviously immature and undeveloped.

    Reply

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