The Chimaera: Issue 4, September 2008

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Again, Joe Salemi, in the last issue of the Chimaera, manages to shift the terrain from an argument for the importance of myth (fair enough, and I actually argee with him) to the customary diatribe about leftists and modernists:

“Objections to the use of myth in poetry usually mask a leftist sociopolitical agenda, or a modernist aesthetic prejudice. In the latter case, the objection is rooted in a dislike of anything that intervenes between a poet and ‘experience’ — this experience being a hypostatized abstraction that lays claim to the bogus credentials of ‘sincerity’ and ‘authenticity.’ Using an ancient story to create a poem is verboten for those who adhere to this peculiar ideology.”

As is typical, no citation is given for this — indeed, the main examples of myth-haters he cites are obsessively empirical types (who, by his account, hold no particular religious ideology and just aren’t into literature) and Bible-thumpers (who would tend to be right-wing). What about all those feminist poems retelling various myths from women’s perspectives? What about Pound and Eliot and H.D.— all of whom drew heavily on mythology?

But business as usual for Salemi.

Quincy Lehr,
New York


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