Sunday, June 29, 2008

Richard Eberhart in 1980

In a 1980 interview with Don Swaim on Book Beat, the CBS Radio show, available on Wired for Books, Richard Eberhart (1904-2005) described how the poetry of the well-made poem, coming from the New Criticism, and the control of the poetry scene by the academy (he mentioned the Kenyon Review, Allen Tate, etc.) was dethroned in 1956.

Ginsberg’s “Howl” changed the poetry landscape when it was published in 1956. “The well-made poem went out of fashion…” The young poets wrote in long loose lines, and wrote about anything under the sun. “William Carlos Williams taught us all, from my generation down, that there is no subject in the world that cannot be poetical.”

He said he wished the intellectual approach and the popular approach to art could meet. He would like the serious poem of America to be able to reach the populace. Shakespeare’s poetry was understood both by the princes and the groundlings… Eberhart said he felt surprised that as “a boy from Southern Minnesota” he should come to be known as an establishment poet.

Mentioning his contacts and friendships with older poets, Williams, Frost, and Stevens, Eberhart refused to mention the names of younger poets he admired.

Without having met Czeslaw Milosz, Eberhart said he had read his work for some 25 years, and enjoyed the modesty of his comments after winning the Nobel Prize, that he regretted being in the limelight and wasn't sure he wanted to have to put up with fame...  

The interview ends with Eberhart reading “Sagacity”.