Monday, March 22, 2010

Dudek and Souster

David Kosub has a post up about a couple of Canadian poets who, it seems to me, are of more historical than literary interest. Souster's always been an egregiously prolific hit-and-miss kind of poet--and most of his hits are singles, rather than homers. (See, I prefer baseball metaphors to hockey, tho I certainly appreciate when the latter are used to describe my "dekes and turns.") Dudek, on the other hand, I don't think ever got out from under the oppressive weight of Pound (apologies); he seems to have been more concerned with writing Important Poetry Relevant to his Historical Moment than in writing good poems. An interesting figure, nonetheless. But neither one of them comes close to their one-time partner in crime, Irving Layton, who was both an interesting figure and an artistic genius (at his best, which I concede he frequently wasn't).

A trivial sidenote: Souster was responsible for one of my earliest publications, when he chose an early version of my poem "Stacking Boxes in the Belly of a Flying Whale" for an anthology he was editing in the late nineties. So yeah, he cut me some slack! Probably too much...

1 comment:

David Kosub said...

I don't disagree with you entirely about Dudek and Souster as poets, Zach (though you have to hunt and peck a little to find truly great poems in the work of many, if not most, poets). What intrigues me is how D and S drove the conversation about what should constitute poetry: Mouthy, hard headed, committed poets who ultimately helped shine a light, if not on their own work, then on the poetry of Layton, later Atwood and others.
They were the first in Canada to transform the natural iconoclasm of youth into something sustained as well as ambitious, in the generations of poets that followed them.