“It is refreshing when a critic restores the function of narrative to the work of art, and finds aesthetic rather than biographical reasons to validate a work. [Marjorie] Perloff also knows that information and knowledge are not the same thing. We can recount the intimate and accidental facts of a writer’s life but know little of the content and meaning of those facts. The witnesses themselves are not be too trusted.”
From the Editorial in PN Review, May-June 2019, a good piece on Marjorie Perloff’s distrust of biography: “this makes her a distinctive voice at a time when gossip and appraisal often go hand in hand.”
It’s also refreshing that Perloff has not been sucked into the dull, middle-brow contemporary poetry scene:
“Charles [Bernstein] and I have wonderful debates about what’s happening in poetry. As a poet, he naturally wants to like a lot of work, but I find it difficult to agree. Look, when the language school of poetry started out, Charles was the radical, oppositional poet who brilliantly demolished ‘Official Verse Culture’, as he called it. But now, alas, much of what he previously condemned, like the ‘transit theory of poetry—from me to you’ has come back with a vengeance. Now the criterion for poetry is very romantic again, filled with the witnessing of personal pain and suffering, whether in relation to gender or race or disability, and so on.”
I’ve been reading Jacqueline Winter Thomas’ poetry; her blog a very recent discovery thanks to flowerville. The poetry echoes earlier modernist avant-garde work, of which I suspect Perloff might approve.