Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lola Ridge claws her way out of the dustbin



I can't imagine anyone considering Lola Ridge a good poet ; spare as her images maybe, they come off to me as suffering a dual deficiencies . First, her language is flat and prosaic, ordinary in the sense that Theodore Dreiser is prosaic, even clumsy in his phrasing. A latter day generation of graduate students and their topic starved faculty can easily fall in love with her poems and even generate claims for quality using a specialized and wholly incomprehensible criteria, but this fact does not persuade me that my horizons are too low.

Ridge sounds like just another tone deaf poet; I think she is frankly as posthumously over rated as the splintery metal shavings that Mina Loy claimed as her poetry. Even considering the period style, a quality where we're supposed to suspend our notions of fluid , economic expression and accept as an aesthetic plus we've yet to accept in our preferences, this strange mixture of styles just seems like someone who is dedicated to making their work striking, noticeable, singular--there is a perceivable straining toward original style that succeeds , basically, in subjugating interesting material to serve a self-concious artifice.

Ridge is notable, I think, for having the still-current curse of demanding that you get her drift; writing for the day when centipedes march over false prophets "who will have their hands tied" is one of the worst political tropes I've read from any poet, period. It's a groaner, a gas passed that rips out during a stagnate, soul-killing poetry reading, a cut-doll of a trope, flimsy and blatant.At this point you are reminded of being compelled to  listen to someone go off on a rant about  one injustice or another , weaving a tale that converts the entire fabric of  reality as one streaming conspiracy of bad bad juju , bad faith and paranoia and wickedly ill-executed metaphors making you feel as if someone had just pissed on you, you powerless to respond, to argue or reason with, all you can do is nod, smile,nod, harbor thoughts of violent revenge against what you don't know. I would pray a compassionate God would give me a cardiac arrest on the spot as a blameless way of getting out of this person's presence. Ridge is that awful. You can appreciate , I suppose, why she was popular in her own day; you can understand just as easily why she was forgotten. 

1 comment:

  1. This is a great, seething, contemptuous review. It's so pungent that it makes me want to read Lola Ridge. Sorry.

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