Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The New Yorker: Timothy Donnelly's corporate poetry by Dan Chiasson

In the December 20 & 2, 2010, issue of The New Yorker (pp. 88-89) (Timothy Donnelly’s corporate poetry.), Dan Chiasson described poets as either “lingerers or barreller” because poems pass the time via “their recurring patterns of figure and sound:” “should a poet try to stop the clock or, like a swimmer caught in a rip current, ride the tide?” But when barrellers pause or lingerers hurry, “some of the most affecting moments in poetry happen.” Examples: Frank O’Hara’s eulogizing Billie Holiday: “The Day Lady Day Died;” John Keats “Bright Star.” Contemporary poets tend to be “inner barrellers, poets of ultrafast interiority. . . .gives particular urgency to the task of finding meaning inside the data stream, along with forms of beauty both intellectually credible and ethically palatable. Reasons, that is, to linger.” Chiasson described the style of Timothy Donnelly, Columbia University (The Cloud Corporation), as “a gameshow shopping spree: everything is thrown into the cart. . . .an acrobatic formalist, albeit one on fast-forward. . .an ingenious way of corralling catch-as-catch-can language within formal intervals. . . .poems full of old vocabularies now repurposed for commercial use.” In his second book of poerty, Donnelly offered images about the world of power and money as “especially dangerous, because it has already imagined us, our futures and fates.” In contrast to O’Hara’s (and others) “great urban poems about going out,” “Donnelly’s is a rare kind of city poetry, a poetry of staying in. . .offering no way out of this self-consuming contemporary moment” but offering advice about spiritual approaches to contemporary life.

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