David Antin on the response to Ginsberg in the cold-war era
excerpt from Antin's essay
"Modernism and Postmodernism: Approaching the Present in American Poetry"

On Ginsberg's "America": "[I]t is still hard to believe that this alternately prophetic, rhapsodic, comic, and nostalgic style could appear unliterary."
[T]he course of American poetry from 1914 to 1972 is characteristic of the changes in our culture and attitudes, and because our poetry is in an extraordinarily healthy state at the moment and there is no need to consider what is being produced today as in any way inferior to the works of the supposed masters of Modernism.

The most artificial and consequently the most convincing way to do this would be to compose a short continuous history of American poetry beginning at the turn of the century and showing how poetry and sensibility continued to change from salient moment to salient moment till we run out of salient moments.

[Antin then quotes from Ginsberg's "America":]

America stop pushing I know what I'm doing
America the plum blossoms are falling
I haven't read the newspapers for months everyday some-
	  body goes on trial for murder.
America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies
America I used to be a communist when I was a kid I'm
	not sorry
I smoke marijuana every chance I get.
I sit in my house for days on end and star at roses in 
	   the closet
When I go to Chinatown I get drunk and never get laid

The success of the style can be measured by the degree to which the"estab- lishment" critics responded to this poetry as anti-poetry, anti-literature,
One of the greatest performance poets of this century, David Antin is well known internationally for his "talk poems" -- brilliantly spun improvisatory fables of contemporary society using all the traditional rhetorical and prosodic devices of poetry.
and as sociopolitical tract. While there may have been contributory factors in the political climate of the Cold War and [Ginsberg's] own mania, it is still hard to believe that this alternately prophetic, rhapsodic, comic, and nostalgic style could appear unliterary. But it did appear unliterary, primarily because the appropriate devices for framing "Modern" poetry and literature in general were nowhere in sight. Instead of "irony," it had broad parody and sarcasm; instead of implying, the poem ranted and bawled and laughed; learned as it was in the strategies of European poetry it was seen as the poetry of the gutter.