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Disching The Dirt

June 02, 1991

Disch's review was an abominable piece of writing for two reasons--1) It never told what Clark himself thought of Olson; 2) It hardly dealt with the actual merits, or lack thereof, in Olson's writing.

I could hardly believe, for example, that anyone, let alone a poet who has published seven books of poetry as has Disch, would think such alleged facts as Olson's never doing the dishes for his common-law (O God, how immoral!) wife, or Olson's seeking a draft deferment during World War II, are apt criteria by which to judge his poetry. . . .

At his best, Olson was a lyric genius--an appellation that Disch seems to treat with unmitigated scorn--who wrote out of genuine American experience in a language that rolled, stammered and dropped off abrupt cliffs of silence with absolute fidelity to his own breath flow and native idiom.

That is a feat that many poets can appreciate, though perhaps not Disch, who seems to concern himself more with the number of times Olson was unfaithful to his common-law wives.

GERALD NICOSIA, MANHATTAN BEACH

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