Gary B. Fitzgerald: The life of John Gallaher’s blog?
Is John Gallaher’s blog losing steam? We thought so, until recently, but then a week ago John asked a general academic question of his readers and Gary B. Fitzgerald responded with one of his published and copyrighted poems.
The fun began right away.
Gary, would you mind not posting your own poems in these comment fields? It’s an incredibly annoying form of graffiti.
When censorship bubbles up from below, will it not be long before a censorial diktat arrives from above?
Gary wondered how poets could reject poetry. He speculated that if John Ashbery posted one of his own poems on the comments thread to Gallaher’s blog, the hypocrites, instead of objecting, would bow and scrape.
But Gary got pummeled:
You may have noticed, Gary, that a lot of poets do post here, and they all show the common courtesy to refrain from using someone else’s blog discussion to post their own work.
You insist that your work is relevant to the discussion. People have been telling you for years they disagree. That’s all you need to know. It doesn’t matter that you’re deaf to the explanations, of which there have been dozens.
Perhaps the objector is right. “Common courtesy” is goodness, morality, and common sense all wrapped up in one. How can Gary not see that if everyone used Gallaher’s blog to post their work, discussions would suffer?
Further, Gallaher expects visitors to participate in discussions of his articles on his blog; to use Gallaher’s blog to publish one’s work is at cross-purposes with the blog’s owner; thus Gary Fitzgerald posting his poetry on John Gallaher’s blog insults Gallaher. Why can’t Gary see this? He can, evidently, but Gary’s need to see his poetry in print—and read by others—overcomes him.
But there’s another reason—which none may have considered but some perhaps implicitly understand—why Gary’s actions are offensive. If, let’s say, Gary’s poems are pertinent to the discussion, this will offend most contemporary poets, who do not write poems of moral sagacity—which can be plugged into discussions willy-nilly; it would be like a rock station suddenly playing a piece of baroque classical music; it just wouldn’t fly, in purely social terms.
Gary is not aware of how not cool the poem of didactic usefulness is today. This, we feel, is the great unspoken reason for the abuse heaped on Gary—for all the talk of the other reasons.
The poem of didactic use is a pariah in sophisticated circles, for deeply fundamental philosophical reasons that are counter-intuitive, and thus not understood by even the gaudy sophisticates themselves, never mind the mass of men.
Gary, of course, will respond indignantly that his poems are beautiful as well as instructive—in fact, that’s the whole point, that’s what makes them poetry, and thus his poems, he feels, have a God-like reason for existing, and their existence on a poetry blog are self-justifying. How can they not be? and especially when their instructive side is pertinent to any given discussion. How does it insult anyone, Gallaher or his blog visitors, when beauty is added to relevance in any discussion? Gary is surely in the right and is being pilloried for reasons of mere jealousy and stupidity, for a “common courtesy” which is neither “common” nor “courteous.”
But—and this point is made strongly by John Crowe Ransom in his sterling but neglected essay, “Poets Without Laurels”—the modern temper is precisely that which rejects the joining of instruction and beauty, in the same way puritans reject the pomp of Catholicism.
It is because Fitzgerald drapes his message in beautiful poetry that he offends.
Scarriet noted a couple of years ago that John Gallaher asked Fitzgerald to leave his blog—because Fitzgerald was unkind to the poetry of John Ashbery—which Fitzgerald has characterized as ”literary Rorschach Tests that some call poetry.”
Welcome to modernity, Gary B.
It is the poetry that offends the poets.