By Andrew Epstein
Even though it has lengthy been general to visualize the archetypal American poet making a song a solitary "Song of Myself," a lot of the main enduring American poetry has really been preoccupied with the drama of friendship. during this lucid and soaking up research, Andrew Epstein argues that an obsession with either the pleasures and difficulties of friendship erupts within the "New American Poetry" that emerges after the second one international struggle. by means of concentrating on essentially the most major postmodernist American poets--the "New York college" poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, and their shut modern Amiri Baraka--Beautiful Enemies finds a basic paradox on the center of postwar American poetry and tradition: the avant-garde's dedication to individualism and nonconformity runs at once counter to its personal valorization of group and collaboration. in truth, Epstein demonstrates that the conflict among friendship and nonconformity complicates the mythical alliances cast by means of postwar poets, turns into a principal subject within the poetry they created, and leaves modern writers with a classy legacy to barter. instead of easily celebrating friendship and poetic group as nurturing and encouraging, those poets characterize friendship as one of those exhilarating, maddening contradiction, a domain of allure and repulsion, affinity and rivalry.
demanding either the reductive opinions of yankee individualism and the idealized, seriously biographical celebrations of literary camaraderie one unearths in a lot severe dialogue, this e-book presents a brand new interpretation of the abnormal dynamics of yank avant-garde poetic groups and the function of the person inside them. by means of situating his vast and revealing readings of those hugely influential poets opposed to the backdrop of chilly struggle cultural politics and in the context of yankee pragmatist idea, Epstein uncovers the collision among radical self-reliance and the siren name of the interpersonal on the center of postwar American poetry
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Extra info for Beautiful enemies : friendship and postwar American poetry
Rosenberg, who, along with Clement Greenberg, was one of the major advocates and interpreters of the Abstract Expressionist avant-garde, writes in 1968 that the key is the ideological community, that is to say, a collective movement based on certain intellectual presuppositions. An individual can be an innovator, but there is no such thing as an avant-garde individual, except as a follower or leader. . Those who are looking for avant-gardes are looking for a convinced crowd. An individual who is an innovator spies upon the unknown, but only a phalanx can take up a forward position.
Six months later, in January 1952, O’Hara wrote the poem “Brothers,” a conscious testament to the “silent generosities” of his newfound fraternity of peers that typically both catalogs his friends (Ashbery, Schuyler, and Koch) and notes their differences as poets: “John’s most sophistical, / Jimmy seriousest, Kenneth large, locomotive, / laughing like Midas of the Closed Fist” (CP, 75). The ﬁrst issue of Origin, which truly inaugurated a Black Mountain or projectivist poetic coterie, practically coincided with Goodman’s piece in 1951, as did Olson’s rectorship at Black Mountain College.
For Bürger, the avant-garde impulse and the individual self are mortal enemies. Situating the Avant-Garde in Postwar America 33 This powerful identiﬁcation of the avant-garde with a belief that art must be anti-individual and collective in orientation has persisted in more recent evaluations of the concept. In her 1997 book, The Poetic Avant-Garde: The Groups of Auden, Borges, and Breton, Beret Strong deﬁnes her central term in like manner: The historical avant-garde is well described as a tendency among writers to form communities—fellowships of discourse—from which to explore the possibilities of aesthetic innovation and transﬁguring social activism open to writers.