In response to:
Recent Poetry: Three American Poets from the June 25, 1964 issue
To the Editors:
If Mr. Flint [in “Three American Poets”, NYR, June 25th] had bothered to read my film criticism, he would be aware that I have inveighed against the school of Menotti more bitingly than he. To say that my disgust with the school of personal anguish implies a return to romanticism or a neo-romanticism like that of Barber Menotti, is to make a total misreading of my text My call is not for a regression, but for an advance. If semicolons are pregnant, what are Silences? Mallarmé could write of the blank page, but to surround a bland university poet’s impeccable standard verses with Mallarméan pregnancies seems stretching it. Perhaps Mr. Flint is saying that since the verses are unexciting, the silences are preferable. But I am not concerned with the university poet, whether in vacation or term-time.
I am concerned with the fashionable school of self-proclaimed excruciation, for which Mr. Flint has long been a vociferous and uncritical apologist. This school, after eighteen years of dominance, is beginning to show signs of use and abuse, as are its promoters…. The grey-beards in their forties and fifties, of whom Mr. Flint speaks with a certain feeling, are no longer the revolutionary anguished youths of twenty and thirty. Their inner turmoil has a certain wooden, repetitive quality to it. The drums are getting dumb from over-beating. And can Mr. Flint still be the Apostle to the Gentiles for such consolidated, entrenched, honor-bedecked revolutionaries?
New York City
R. W Flint replies:
I am unable to establish any contact with the Mr. Flint of Bennett’s letter who has long been a “vociferous and uncritical apologist” for some school or other. Does anyone know him, and if so will they please shoot him on sight?
What I thought I was doing, among other things, was goading people to read Mr. Bennett’s piece, out of curiosity or perhaps outrage at my tone.
August 20, 1964