“Y^^i^”.nPoetry You Can Readnby R.S. Gwynnn”It seemed so simple when one was young and new ideas were mentioned not tongrow red in the face and gobble.”n— Logan Pearsall Smithn-^^-^^J^’ -â„¢:2^ai^- -nExpansive Poetry: Essays on thenNew Narrative & the NewnFormahsmnEdited by Frederick FeirsteinnSanta Cruz: Story Line Press;n262 pp., $24:95 (cloth),n$15.95 (paper)nIn his introduction to the 1962 Penguinnanthology ContemporarynAmerican Poetry, Donald Hall wrote,n”For thirty years an orthodoxy rulednAmerican poetry. It derived from thenauthority of T.S. Eliot and the newncritics; it exerted itself through thenliterary quarterlies and the universities.nIt asked for a poetry of symmetry,nintellect, irony, and wit. The last fewnyears have broken the control of thisnorthodoxy.” Following a brief summarynof current trends in which he parodiednsome of the extremes of thenacademic formalism of the 1950’s,nR.S. Gwynn is the editor of thenDictionary of Literary Biographynvolume Contemporary AmericannPoets. He is a professor of English atnLamar University in Beaumont,nTexas.n32/CHRONICLESnZ” “»-i^ii* z’,’^-^-nHall offered quotes from Robert Blynand Louis Simpson as representative ofnthe new direction of poetic style: “Thisnimagination is irrational, yet the poemnis usually quiet and the language simple;nthere is no straining after apocalypse.nThere is an inwardness to thesenimages, a profound subjectivity.” Innother words, the poetry arising to challengenthe status quo would employnopen forms in lieu of the symmetry ofntraditional meters and rhyme, the voicenof the unconscious as opposed to thatnof the rational mind, and a tone ofnsincerity and commitment instead ofnwit and irony. The new poem, if wenare to judge from Hall’s own selections,nwould likely be a short, free-versenlyric in which the poet would try toncommunicate the “intricate darknessnof feeling and instinct” that makes upn”general subjective life.” In these remarks.nHall proved remarkably prescient.nWhile Hall expressed ophmism thatnthe new poetry would not “substitutenone orthodoxy for another,” hopingnthat “all possibilities, even contradictorynones, [might] exist together,” thenessays in Frederick Feirstein’s ExpansivenPoetry indicate that the new ordernnnproved as inflexible as the old. Feirsteinnand Frederick Turner, in their introduction,nspeak of “how narrow andndoctrinaire . . . the world of poetry innthe seventies” had become. Paul Lakendescribes the era as one “when to writenin a tradition that extends beyond thenformal and prosodic possibilities of thenverse of William Carlos Williams andnhis epigones was to court silence orncritical disdain.” Dana Gioia experiencesn”a deep disappointment over thenpredictable sameness, the conspicuousnlack of diversity” in a typical year’snpublications. Robert McDowell notesnthat the successive movements ofnpostmodernism — “Academic, Beat,nConfessional, Projective, Deep Image,nSurrealism” — stressed “the importancenof the poet’s interior landscapenrather than the poet’s place in thenlarger community.” While these generalizationsncannot be empiricallynproven, they are borne out by a perusalnof the contents of most Americannpoetry magazines, where free versenand autobiographical subject matter farnoutweigh closed forms and such genresnas the dramatic monologue and narrative.nIf the subjectivism of the deepnimage school and the surrealism of then