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Perloff Pro And Con

July 22, 1990

In reviewing my "Poetic License," Disch is indignant about the "passionate enthusiasm" he takes me to display toward "language poetry," specifically to the work of Lyn Hejinian and Steve McCaffery (which, for the record, occupies approximately 15 (roughly 5%) of my book's 352 pages).

"Why," he asks vituperatively, "does (Perloff) praise those who traffic in" the "pseudo-scientific silliness" (of language poetry)? "Because, like Everest, it's there."

Well, choice of mountain notwithstanding (surely Parnassus would have been more apt than Everest), I find Disch's explanation wonderfully absurd. For, to paraphrase Gertrude Stein (whom Disch calls, in a characteristically vulgar phrase, the "wellspring of (my) aesthetic"), there's a lot of there there--a there that, after all, includes Disch's own poetry, a poetry that, alas, I have never so much as noticed as being there .

Perhaps that simple little fact has something to do with his venom.

MARJORIE PERLOFF

PACIFIC PALISADES

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