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Tempest in a Teapot

In response to:

Mixed Company from the April 8, 1965 issue

To the Editors:

For some time I have been wondering what the critics would make of the revolution that has taken place in poetry since 1960. Robert Mazzocco’s review of the record “Destinations” in your Special spring issue seems to give some idea of the poetic criticism that may run out of steam in the face of quality poetry. From the way in which Mazzocco approached the work it seems as though he has just heard of Ginsberg.

I think that Hernton and Pritchard (possibly Badanes also) are on their way to something big. Pritchard’s poem “Aswelay,” perhaps the best poem on the album, wasn’t even treated in the criticism…

Brian Gunther

New York City

Robert Mazzocco replies:

My! What assertions: Mazzocco parades erudition, has questionable motives, and “reveals a choler unscholarly.” (No, Mimi Goldberg, no poem for you!) And what innuendoes: Mazzocco fearful of a peasant revolt, out of touch with the times, and a Klan-lover besides.

If I did not quote from “Aswelay,” Mr. Gunther, it was simply because I do not consider The New York Review a humor magazine. However, looking back on the three letters printed above, possibly I am mistaken.

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