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Walter Carey

Is Eliot Trending? [by Walter Carey]

Thomas_Stearns_Eliot_by_Lady_Ottoline_Morrell_(1934)

Jeremy Sigler, whose latest book of poems is Goodbye Letter (in which, according to the publisher, the poet “plays out an endgame of muses to deconstruct his poetry and his will to write – let alone speak – as he ruminates and articulates, verbally and graphically, the implied obsolescence of language itself, a deeply regressive technology of sorts, made up of phonemes, alphabets, metaphors, narratives, voices, and identities”) recently interviewed the famous literary critic Marjorie Perloff, now 90, and her new book.

Here’s an excerpt from Tablet. Note the pointed allusion to the Beatles’ “Give peace a chance.”

<<  Jeremy: I simply couldn’t bring myself to read the chapter on T.S. Eliot. All I could think about was his neatly combed hair with that perfect part running across his scalp. And I felt nauseated.

Marjorie: That’s a silly prejudice! Oh, Eliot is so wonderful. People really want to read Eliot these days. He’s incredibly popular again. You wouldn’t believe it. Just listen to those great lines:

Let us go then, you and I
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table

Jeremy: Wow. That is good! So Eliot is “trending,” as my daughter says.

Marjorie: Yes, you should give Eliot a chance. Your prejudice is based on the deserved mistrust of Eliot’s politics and his position on Anglicanism as the right religion. But if one looks at the subtext, the very real anxiety and brilliance of the poetry shine through.
>>
For more of this enlightening conversation, including thoughts on whether Marcel Duchamp wanted to be Jewish and on Picasso's statement, after Max Jacob's death at the hands of the Nazis, that Max was an angel who will "fly ovet the walls," click here.


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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark


from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman

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