Elliott on style and newness

To: 88v@dept.english.upenn.edu
Subject: Re: Beat Poets
Date: Wed, 10 Nov 1999 16:43:43 GMT
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1. I have to say that poetry cannot truly be *new*  not because they would
be unable to write poetry unique and different from the past, but because
the influence of poetry they have read.  The only way I think someone
write completely different poetry would be to never expose them to other
poetry, pesand give them a broad definition
and let them go to town.  I quess I'm a pessimist, but I think prior
influences always show up in one's work.

----i add------
As a 7th grade English teacher teaching students whose first language is
Spanish, I would argue with your hypothetical experiment.  Often my
have created poems with parts quite similar to some of the poets we've
so far.  Clearly they've never been exposed to the poets we've discussed
they are not producing something "new."  But...

**This gets back to our earlier discussion of
"style" v. "styleless":

     I keep thinking about Jazz music improvisational soloing: all
are taught the same scales, with the same notes, and similar rhythmic
theories.  A Charles Mingus or a Charlie Parker listens to past
improvisational soloists.  Musicians are taught (or do it on their own) to
mimic the great masters of soloing and often learn note-for-note some of
those memorable improvisational solos by previous masters.
     The jazz musician internalizes a wealth of musical history and a
variety of musical styles.  But when he/she steps out onto the stage and
band backs him/her with a set chord progression, when s/he starts to play,
that music is *NEW*.  It's new because even though what's used can include
triedandtrue musical techniques, notes on a musical scale, and number of
bars in the solo, what is created is without peer.  An example is that
Parker fiddled his way into Bebop, a frenetic-paced avante-garde version
musical creation.  That was new; nobody had ever created anything

     With poetry it's similar if not identical.  We all work with the same
"notes" (words) and we have all memorized some of the poetry of the
  What we do with it on the page (or, more recently in the experimental
world of poetry, *elsewhere*) can be new.
     Now we can argue about whether or not the "new" is good (and many
despise the Beats - most recently I talked to poet Ed Hirsch down here in
Houston and he HATES/ABHORS/DETESTS them), but no, it most certainly *is*
possible to create a poetry that's new.

Strongly worded today,

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