Andy Mister, who I read with at St. Mark's

Metamodernism personified: Andy Mister

Excuse us while we laugh at Seth Abramson’s latest piffle: “On Literary Metamodernism.”

Should we be writing that in all caps? METAMODERNISM!

Edgar Allan Poe, the greatest literary innovator in the history of Letters, never struck a “modern” note. Poe’s idea was to be original, not modern, for “modernism,” the buzz word, has always been a stylistic vacuity blaring from the presses. Poe was anxious to discover truths just as true for the ancients as for us. In verse, the vibrations and durations underlying the scientific truths of measured poetry affect all humans with a pulse the same. None of this “now we drive automobiles and now we write verse differently!” pretentiousness for the short story master who gave us detective fiction and sci-fi.

“Now we drive automobiles and now we write verse differently” is a phrase that nicely sums up the con of the modernism pretense. We are always rushing into a vague future with a tenuous connection between poetry and something else: skyscrapers, automobiles, language, young people, and now for Seth—wait for it—young people in MFA programs.

This is the cause of Seth’s stated  innovation, sort of the way an apple is the cause of gravity—because people are in MFA programs, there is an innovation, a new thing, a new modernism, a METAMODERNISM, which, if we press Abramson to define it, will be defined as modern, very, very modern, more modern than Modernism or Post-modernism, oh rest assured!

Abramson does two things in his essay. First, he describes, in great sweep, the condition of poetry culture and then he offers a few lines—sentences?—by a poet named Mister, (MFA, Montana, 2003), to prove the actual identity of a new “rebel” poetry which “risks sincerity” and manifests meta- reality in the face of other highly ironic and cynical modern and post modern poets (New Critical, Language and Loner) thrown together by the Program Era: the MFA culture has come to small towns and can’t be escaped.

The M-gen poets (MFA  generation poets) are here to save the day by pushing previously safe distinct poetries towards possible  social humiliation. This general idea, though somewhat crazy, we like, for here Seth shows a proclivity for party organizing. We can see Seth throwing a poetry blast which everyone would want to attend, even Thomas Brady.

Metamodernism’s brave new avant-garde world belongs to social nuance, as Seth’s “new sincerity,” or should we call it the “new sincere sincerity?” challenges the old hollow snarkiness of Internet Age insincerity, irony, and artificiality with the “hyper-real” vision of an inspired and socially connected MFA student, eschewing language games, formalist, ironical New Critical strategies, and loner, street, maudlin strategies, plunging into an eclectic soup of past modernism transcended, a Henry James-sensitive soup to be sipped politely, and yet with great risk, as the new meal is nothing less than the avant-garde at last breaking into clear clarity, sincere sincerity, and real reality. Now if this sounds crazy…well, here’s Seth Abramson in his own words (with the help of David Foster Wallace):

The challenge today’s younger artists face is to find wholeness of being and clarity of emotion in the midst of a cacophony of Internet-Age stimuli. These stimuli are forever wrenching them back into our noisy American culture, one that impels them to a multifaceted, Internet-savvy selfhood that never feels entirely true or essential. The situation has all the markings of a catch-22: To be sincere, one must, presumably, deny the contemporary poet’s multiple “artificial” selves, and therefore be insincere to the real state of affairs; yet to indulge the contemporary poet’s multiple artificial selves is to sincerely detail the insincerity our culture sometimes forces upon us, and therefore be, however inadvertently, insincere in content if not design.

[David Foster] Wallace implicitly acknowledges this catch-22 in his essay “E Unibus Pluram,” assessing the development of a genuine avant-garde in relation to the critical concept of risk. As Wallace writes, “The old postmodern insurgents risked the gasp and squeal…[t]oday’s risks are different. The new rebels might be willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs…to be suckered by a world of lurkers and starers who fear gaze and ridicule above imprisonment without law.”

Prior to the Program Era’s promulgation of hundreds of literary micro-communities across the country, the particular brand of rebellion spoken of by Wallace was next to impossible.

Metamodernist poetry’s task, then, is to take “Internet-savvy selfhood that never feels entirely true or essential” and make it so, and with all these MFA “micro-communities” uniting poets across the land as never before, there is a great opportunity for the truth and essential in poetry—and thus in life!—to happen.

What this sounds like to us is that Seth Abramson, as part of his vocation as MFA-defender, has been thinking very hard about ways to make MFA programs seem important, and since MFA programs are explicitly about nothing—nothing is taught, MFA officials admit, but what does happen is students and instructors of poetry come together and create intelligent space for poetic things to happen—Abramson, desperate to defend the institution of the Poetry MFA, has decided he will play up the fact that MFA communities are growing in number and herding poets together must have some benefit; and here it is: Metamodernism.  Just put a lot of studious poets in the same room for awhile, Abramson thinks, and new and interesting things will happen.

Poetry, in other words, is not an art, but a response to each decade’s news flashes: Pound was troubled by a world war, Eliot by Michelangelo, Charles Bernstein by language, and now Seth Abramson, by the Internet—or rather, the “Internet-savvy selfhood that never feels entirely true or essential.”

Each day in his bunker, the news-deprived, would-be poet asks, “What, during this decade, troubles me?”  All he needs to do is read Time magazine, or get an MFA in poetry, and problem solved!

The coolest poets are, at this very minute, writing poetry to fix the problem of the day, which you, Internet-savvy person, should appreciate, and if you can’t appreciate it, you need to borrow money for an MFA poetry program, and get in on this metamodernist turn in poetry, before it’s too late!

Modernist, post-modernist, and meta-modernist movements appear and die as quickly as swarms of gnats on a summer evening, and these responses—the new poetries which have replaced the old poetry—cannot be learned in a day, so get off your ass and hie you to your nearest low-residency MFA community in due haste!  Hurry!  Metamodernism is happening!

Let us give Abramson his due: he may be mad, but see how he describes the whole scenario down to its last nuance and fact:

The bohemians of New York City could argue (if not credibly) that they were forever butting up against the disapproval of the New Critics of the academy, and the long-hegemonic New Critics could falsely opine about suffering the stranglehold of conventional academia. Meanwhile, the isolatos could bemoan their interminable cultural irrelevance and personal despair. But to contend that any of these groups truly “risked” the disapproval (let alone hostile influence) of the others would be farcical. Each of these quadrants of American literature operated largely independently of the others. The Language poets never felt the cold jackboot of academia on their necks until they so desperately and emphatically sought its approval that a short-lived and entirely-manufactured confrontation (followed by a much longer détente) was inevitable; the New Critics were ascendant in the academy for decades (roughly, from 1930 to 1970), meaning that any claims of persecution could never have been more than rank self-mythologizing. And perhaps the sole benefit of being a solitary genius in America is never having the clammy hand of convention clapped down upon one’s shoulder.

What was required to produce the condition of “risk” Wallace wrote of in the 1990s was some mechanism that would, on a national scale, blindly throw poets together with one another in close quarters, that would so violently juxtapose creative and performative spaces that a young artist desiring rebellion would have no choice but to perform her resistance in full view–literally in the very same room as–those whose disapprobation she sought to invite or risked inviting. The dramatic expansion of the nation’s network of graduate creative writing programs across the whole of the United States in the 1990s and aughts provided just this opportunity, especially as it produced collisions not only among student poets but also among formerly isolated non-students who suddenly discovered vibrant, university-affiliated literary communities in their backyards. It is one thing to be an isolated author living in Wichita, it is quite another to be an author in Wichita as that city’s literary scene expands rapidly via a horde of creative writing graduate students at Wichita State.

Fear not, you isolated non-students!  Even Wichita has a literary scene now, thanks to the MFA Program Era!

But what exactly is this Metamodernism?  What does it look like?

Again, Seth delivers the goods here, too.  He has a poet, Andy Mister, and Mister’s actual writings demonstrate for us what Metamodernism is:

Evidence of this seismic shift in poetry’s ambitions is present throughout Mister’s collection, as in this passage: “The weather doesn’t start to take shape until spring, then you’ll see it all around you. Scattering out from a point. That point is not you. Or me.” We are suffused, in short, in a reality that is both not our own yet encompasses entirely our environment.

It’s comforting to know that with “metamodernism” we are still, with all the other Modernisms, escaping the ego of Romanticism: “…not you. Or me.”  Okay, fine, but Seth brings even more to the table:

The previous generation of avant-gardes so little understands metamodernism that one can imagine, in advance, their howls of protest as metamodernism begins its steady ascent in American literature. These are mere topical preoccupations, they might say; they are not, first and foremost, linguistic. What these former scions of American literary innovation fail to see is that the time for merely edifying America as to the realities of language is over; the time for speaking primarily in the language of realities is beginning.

Yes, this is a big nut to crack.  Where are the “linguistic” concerns?  But Seth is undeterred. He’s after the biggest catch of all: “the language of realities.”  And it’s just “beginning!”  And all you have to do is get an MFA in poetry to know it intimately yourself!  Aren’t you thrilled?

Seth continues to quote the poet Andy Mister, his great example:

Liner Notes is a book energetically engaged in exploring hyperphysicality from all sides and in all forms, and few sentences in the book fail to perform this monumental task with an almost shocking clarity. For instance: “Ian Curtis hanged himself in the kitchen of his Macclesfield home. He left a note that read: ‘At this very moment, I wish I were dead.'” Curtis thus (with Mister as his witness and amanuensis) instantiates the movement from physicality to hyperphysicality; the writer (Curtis and Mister alike) testifies to the portal through which the self passes when it seeks union between the physical narrative of Life and the hyperphysical narrative of (actual or subjective) Death. Or consider: “In the distance the heat made a mirage floating above the street. But I wasn’t going to see a movie, I was going to cash a check.” Mister acknowledges, here, that encoded within the artifice of the Image is the Image-in-motion, the same cinematic self so often glorified in American culture. What is prescient, though, is how Mister so thoroughly intertwines Art (the Image) and Life (as cinema) that the notion of man-as-moviegoer may be treated as implicit in all real-time action. So it is that Mister must clarify that his poet-speaker is not attending the cinema, but merely performing a workaday task.

In postmodernism, cinema is not acknowledged as a universal preexisting condition, but merely one of many ephemeral guises a man or woman might adopt: that is, a performance. By foreclosing on the premise that the cultural self is elective, Mister forecloses, too, on the possibility of irony and the limitations of postmodernism. Instead, we see sincerity opening its eyes and accepting what it sees–including the presumptive insincerity of multiple selves and multiple realities–as ineluctable, true, and essential. Mister is not a man going to the bank rather than a movie, he is a movie being a man instead of a matinee. Liner Notes so consistently seeks and achieves this superlative level of engagement with metanarrative, metaxy, hypotaxis, hyperreality, hyperphysicality, superconsciousness, and hyperconsciousness that to call it anything less than genius is an insult to both its complexity and ambition.

How can one possibly top “the movement from physicality to hyperphysicality,” in a rock star’s suicide note, no less?

And we especially like, “In the distance the heat made a mirage floating above the street. But I wasn’t going to see a movie, I was going to cash a check.”

A refund check from the financial aid office at his MFA university, no doubt.

Our final quote from Abramson’s essay is a look at what Abramson does best: New Critical close reading (at least he does it ambitiously).  Seth’s analysis of Mister’s “paragraph” is showy, but it does sound learned.  Of course there’s nothing new about conflating the metaphorical with the literal—the “drowning” example—why in the world does Abramson think this is metamodern, much less new? 

Reading metamodernistic verse is bewildering if done correctly, and Mister’s Liner Notes is no exception. Consider this paragraph: “Once when I was riding home in the school bus, I drowned. I had to convince myself that I was breathing. Just for a moment. People on the street will tell you things if you stop and listen. I don’t stop because I don’t have any money.” In conventional lyric-narrative verse, the word “drowned” would here function as a metaphor; presumably, our hypothetical lyric-narrative poet would intend a comparison between panic attacks and drowning, which is to say that drowning and panic share traits in common, per the poet. At the first level of such a comparison, simile, one might say, “I felt like I was drowning”; at the second level of such a comparison, metaphor, we could expect the two terms (“panic” and “drowning”) to be even more closely aligned, as in the implied comparison of the metaphoric construction “I was drowning”; at the third level of comparison we have actually moved beyond mere relation to actual equity, or what Mikhail Epstein calls metabole: Panic is not like drowning, in this new equation, it literally is drowning, as the contemporary subject-cum-poet-speaker loses the ability to distinguish between alternate realities with shared traits (the one in which literal “panic” is operative, and the other in which literal “death” is) and thus finds wholeness, form, and sincerity in the singularity, literality, and accuracy of these concepts’ metabolic combination (“drowning”).

In the metabolic function, as opposed to the metonymic or metaphoric functions, the two presumptive originary terms–“panic” and “death,” in the example above–are both elided in favor of a common denominator, “drowning.” “Drowning” is consequently elevated by the poet to the level of discourse; it becomes, in short, the poet-speaker’s metareality. Mister achieves this effect by doubling down on his investment in the word “drowning” not once but twice: “I had to convince myself that I was breathing”; “Just for a moment.” The poet here confirms that he means not to compare two realities but to unify and resolve them through metamodernistic linguistic operations. His rhetoric is not merely gestural–that is, he is not merely evoking the concept of drowning–it is essential to his always-already ambition of self- and world-creation. Thus lines which may at first appear ironic (because they conspicuously deny readers the word “panic”) or sincere (because they conspicuously deny readers the word “death,” thus implying a common and sincere fear of same) must be read as existing outside, or above, either irony or sincerity. In this way the poet-speaker creates a new metareality, one in which all elements of constituent realities are true but by themselves terminologically insufficient. In the Internet Age, the young do not feel “like” their essential selves are dying, for to say so would be to stand apart from those selves and ironically comment upon them; nor do they deny the breadth and depth of their desperation by wielding the weak sincerity of the word “panic.” Instead, they accept myriad planes of reality as and for what they are: The immersion in dialogues from which there is no escape because, in fact, there is no outside to escape to.

We might perform a similar analysis on the two-sentence sequence, “People on the street will tell you things if you stop and listen. I don’t stop because I don’t have any money.” The poet-speaker is here isolated from his culture (“I don’t stop”) and simultaneously impoverished by it (“I don’t have any money”), yet at the level of metabole–the level at which these two sentences operate combinatively–we see neither the words “isolation” nor “poverty.” Nor, indeed, could we even report conclusively that this poet-speaker is either isolated or impoverished, for consistent with the metabolic function, both of these originary terms have been elided from the discourse. Instead, we’re greeted by a new reality, a metareality, in which the poet-speaker is caught in a sociocultural cycle of participation and non-participation, profit and non-profit. The poet-speaker knows how to access information in the Internet Age, but lacks the resources to engage any information-seeking processes. This is not “like” being isolated or impoverished, it is literally an always-already (that is to say, eternally preexisting) inability to process culture that is a permanent constituent of the self-as-subject. Mister expresses this idea in metabolic language, and thus over-leaps both the sincerity-irony spectrum and also the sort of theory-as-poetry or immanent language that might respectively define or perform it. Mister is, in short, describing without description, thereby avoiding and resolving the late Ed Dorn’s longstanding complaint about description–that it destroys the actual self. Indeed, metamodernistic poets habitually find mechanisms to describe the self that are deadly accurate but avoid representation altogether, and thereby speak of the self in terms so suitable and exacting we may term their resultant self-identities “hyper-real” or “superconscious.” This solution to the problem of the lyric “I” is far more elegant and ambitious and relevant to contemporary culture than any the previous generation of avant-gardes devised.

Andy Mister avoids panhandlers, those who “tell you things,” because he (Mister) doesn’t “have any money.”

College loan debt has recently surpassed all credit card debt—surely this is what Mr. Mister, and his Program Era Metamodernism, by way of Seth Abramson, “at the level of metabole,” is trying to tell us?


  1. powersjq said,

    July 24, 2013 at 12:10 am

    Metamodernism! (Why “meta?” Because “post” was taken?) After the chuckle, and then the shudder, one recalls the Flint Michigan Megabowl (in re: “Semi-Pro”).

  2. July 24, 2013 at 2:39 am

    Abrahamson’s poetic uptopia is built upon poetasters aquiring MFAs, or eventually PhDs, when those became the thing to get, and eventually networking their way into a share of the endless supply of student loan dollars that is about to collapse the economy in the next big bubble bust.

    As for Metamodernism, yeah, that shit is fucking hilarious. But good for him for being as ambitious as ever about trying to come up with a way to pretend that what he and his peers do is interesting, instead of just the same old note from a lot of different (largely out of tune) horns.

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 24, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Thanks, Briggs. You said it better than I did.

  3. angela said,

    July 24, 2013 at 3:28 am

    Hmmm.. no mention of Reggie Watts? He keeps tweeting about RW being the answer to KG. Ironically, when I glanced at twitter a bit ago, Seth had just RT Colbert regarding KG being on the show tonight. You peeps in poetryland – can never tell who hates who, really. Which came first, the label or the poem anyway?

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 24, 2013 at 3:03 pm


      To be fair to Seth, his ‘essay’ is a review of Mister’s “Liner Notes.”

      Secondly, Seth is anxious to push the ‘small town’ and ubiquitous aspect of the Program Era.

      KG and RW are big fish (MOMA, White House, Conan O’Brien, etc)—too intimidating for Seth’s project here…

      Seth wants this to be about Wichita, not London, Glasgow, Geneva, the Whitney Museum…

      I saw Seth’s tweet, called RW “artist of the century,” not poet.


      • angela said,

        July 25, 2013 at 1:02 am

        Thank you for slowing it down for me, Tom.

        Actually, I was being rather cheeky, but not very well.

        His tweet did encompass KG (yes, of MOMA/WH fame – famous bowtie conceptual poet. I’m not schooled in your realm, but have followed the scene for quite a while…even took Al Filreis’s ModPo, which KG showed up for a spell.) I realize RW is a modern comedian -tg for YouTube..)

        The sticks, yes, like WI. He even studied in my neck of the woods, IA. Most grateful that perhaps we in the sticks can now have a scene. Sadly, I don’t believe in that much debt for a piece of paper.


        PS – would have read the ‘essay’ if you had posted the link. Cheers!

        • thomasbrady said,

          July 25, 2013 at 12:53 pm


          I did think of posting a link to Seth’s essay, but he’s so verbose and I quoted all the pertinent parts. An editorial arrogance on my part, perhaps, but there it is. Seth, in my opinion, uses roughly a dozen wasted words for every one that’s necessary.

          I have lived in Iowa and have family and friends from there.

          Oh, you took that on-line ModPo course? Tell us about it, please?


          • angela said,

            July 26, 2013 at 4:11 am

            Tom ~
            Thank you for being kind with my rather abrupt reply. I should not respond after a long day in libraryland.

            “The Volta” has commented on Seth’s ‘essay’ as well, ergo, I now have a link – yikes, verbose is correct! Actually, just read an excerpt from his “Golden Age” piece at SRPR (mentioned in Volta) which helps me to better understand your post, re: Program Era. As an outsider, the inside politics/verbiage of the poetry scene is a bit of a challenge.

            ModPo – I’ve admired Al Filreis after discovering his podcasts years ago. He didn’t seem to force any one agenda, though one knows that he does have his favorites. It is a class for the outsider, who wishes to better understand the history of poetics.

            Your blog continues my education. Thank you.

            Best ~ angela

  4. July 24, 2013 at 8:57 pm

    In defense of mixed emotions about our “English cousins,” and “anti-racist racism,” I offer this imaginary interview I did with Charles Ryder on the occasion of his “big birthday” in 2005. Keep in mind contemporary definitions of mortal and venial sin. Mortal sin is sin which “destroys charity in the human soul.” Venial sin may “wound or offend” charity, but still allows it “to subsist.” I take this to be an endorsement of mixed emotions, saying they are normal and acceptable. And now, without further ado…

    After Brideshead Revisited: Charles Ryder Turns 102

    by David Bittner

    Born in 1903, celebrated society artist Charles Ryder, who inspired renowned novelist Evelyn Waugh to write his famous novel, “Brideshead Revisited,” recently celebrated his 102nd birthday and, in an exclusive interview with this reporter from the Independent Press, paused to look back on his life and high times. Ryder pled superstitious reasons for not doing so two years ago on the occasion of reaching the big century mark itself.

    As the high point of his career, “Stately Homes” Ryder recalled his commission to paint four interior and exterior pictures of “Marchers,” the London home of his good friends, the aristocratic Flyte family. But asked what his first job was, Ryder said, “Well, when I was a boy I used to rub brasses and photograph fonts, but you must understand that to genteel, upper-class Englishmen such as myself, the notion of things like “jobs” or “work” is quite foreign. We may paint, or write, or even act, but we are essentially all dilettantes who live off inherited wealth. On American telly in the late 1950’s there was a show called ‘Dobie Gillis.’ Dobie Gillis was an all-American teenage boy whose best friend was a beatnik named Maynard G. Krebs. Whenever Maynard would hear Dobie or anyone else use the word ‘work’ in conversation in any context, he would look horrified and exclaim, ‘Work!’ Well, that’s about the way we British aristocrats feel on the matter, too.”

    Asked what he attributes his longevity to, Ryder cited several factors. “Early in life and until middle age, I was a heavy smoker,” he said. “But when the U.S. Surgeon General’s famous report on ‘The Health Consequences of Smoking’ came out, like so many other people on both sides of the ‘herring pond,’ I gave up cigarettes. I tried chewing gum and then ginger root at first, but neither helped. So I just gave it up cold turkey, and that worked. My father really encouraged me in my effort to stop smoking, and that was a big help. I had a somewhat strange relationship with my ‘governor,’ but still a close one, and I believe if he hadn’t loved me, he wouldn’t have cared about such things as my health habits and my education and my marital problems. I am sure his own longevity partly explains mine, too, so, in other words, I think it was in the genes. There’s no knowing what was on my mother’s side, genetically, since she died young as a Red Cross volunteer in Serbia during World War I. I will tell you, frankly, by the way, that I have always felt quite conflicted about my mother. I’d like to know what kind of woman puts patriotic duty above devotion to her own husband and child. Her abandonment of me at such a young age is one of the great personal regrets of my life. The other, of course, is my disappointed romance with the love of my life, Lady Julia Flyte. But I hasten to add that I understand Julia’s decision not to marry me becvause of her reluctance to ‘set up a rival good to God’s,’ as she put it at the time. Julia and I have remained good friends all these years and see each other at Christmastime and on many other occasions during the year.”

    Ryder listed two other important factors as contributing to his longevity. “I profitted from the negative example of my best friend at Oxford not to overdo it when it came to drink,” he said. “The young man, Julia’s brother, Lord Sebastian Flyte, drank himself to an early death. It broke my heart to lose my dear friend, and so that was another nasty habit I resolved to disabuse myself of. Also, as an agnostic turned Roman Catholic early in life—largely thanks to the influence of the Flytes—I have always ‘had religion,’ and as any gerontologist can tell you, religious ritual gives a senior citizen purpose in life and contributes to a sanguine nature, which has a beneficial effect on things like cholesterol production and blood pressure.”

    Ryder was asked to comment on problems that he has seen evolve in society over the course of his long life. “As a divorced man, myself, I suppose I am no one to talk,” he said, “but then maybe that’s why I am rather vehement on the subject, I very much regret the decline of the nuclear family and the proliferation of fragmented families. I don’t know what the solution to the problem is, either. I just lack that kind of insight. I’m an artist, not a sociologist. Personally, I have at least been very happy that my son, John, whom I feared I had forfeited the right to watch grow up after my divorce, turned out to be a faithful and affectionate son after all, and a great support to me in my old age. I have that to be thankful for.”

    Ryder cited the worldwide AIDS epidemic, which has devastated artistic circles in England and elsewhere as a tragedy, says he believes Anthony Blount may have been treated too harshly in view of his faithful service to her Majesty, the Queen, and, as a patriotic Englishman, says he isn’t convinced the Chunnel was such a good idea, in case Germany or any other power should get ideas about invading England at any time down the road.

    “I also deplore the Holocaust as the greatest barbarism in world history,” said Ryder, “and I believe I speak from experience, having witnessed its aftermath firsthand, as described in ‘Brideshead Regained,’ Michael Johnston’s worthy sequel to ‘Brideshead Revisited.’ I believe no sensitive person can be an anti-Semite, with the possible exception of the Sitwells, who were so ‘sensitive’ that they couldn’t bear to wear twentieth-century clothing.”

    Ryder, who lives with his son and daughter-in-law in Surrey, says he still paints to occupy himself. “I paint pictures of my children and grandchildren, and also of cathedrals and monor houses, and still lifes, and pictures of Julia and Sebastian Flyte, and their parents, Lord Alex and Lady Theresa Marchmain, and their brother and sister, Lord Brideshead and Lady Cordelia Flyte. I had a ‘penchant’ for them all.”

    Ryder is also very active in his church, where he attends Mass every day and participates in a weekly Bible study group. Asked to state his favorite verse from Scripture, he said, “Actually I have two. From the Old Testament I like Zipporah’s statement to Moses when she circumcises their son: ‘Surely a bridegroom of blood art thou to me.’ And from the New Testament I like the verse from I Corinthians that your President Clinton quoted the night of his reelection victory: ‘Now darkly do we see through a glass, but then face to face.’ You haven’t asked me which other artist I most admire, but as long as we’re on the subject of the Bible, I’ll tell you, anyway. I like the nineteenth-century French engraver, Gustave Doré. I think his illustrations of the Bible stories are exquisite, not at all like Modern Art, which I believe is great bosh, as I once told Cordelia. The only exception I can think of is Aloysius, who, as Sebastian once said, as he complimented my work, ‘draws very prettily, too, but of course he’s rather more modern.'”

    Ryder was delighted to receive telegrams congratulating him on his 102nd birthday from both her Majesty, the Queen, and Prime Minister Tony Blair. He also thanked the Independent Press and said he would have given the interview two years ago, but feared that while the round number 100 might have been ‘sexier,’ it also might have attracted the evil eye. “I believe in the Devil,” said Ryder. “I see evidence of his handiwork everywhere.”


    • July 25, 2013 at 7:31 pm

      Dear Tom,
      By now you probably have discovered my Charles Ryder interview (imaginary, of course) that I posted yesterday, Wednesday, July 24. Can you do me a favor and correct the name (of all things) “Kohn,” that I accidentally gave Ryder’s son? His right name is “John,” of course. Thanks. Yours,David

      • thomasbrady said,

        July 25, 2013 at 7:41 pm

        Yes, David, thank you for your interesting piece.

        I don’t like “Work!” either.

        Kohn is now John.


  5. August 2, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    […] it’s piffle. […]

  6. Tim Haines said,

    January 28, 2014 at 3:50 am

    In what manner have you actually critiqued this article? The chunky quotations seems to take up more room than your own writing. There is a critique of Abramson’s over-zealous attitude towards the importance of MFA programs, sure, but a critique on his search for something to suffice in supplanting the age of irony? Ok sure it appears Abramson is in want of a cutting-edge aesthetic, but that provides less fodder for ridicule than it appears you think is self-evident. The only aesthetic argument of yours that I found truly relevant was the mention of Abramson being blind-sided in his adoration of Mister’s conflation of the metaphorical with the literal, which I forgave him for in his passionate support for his muse. Maybe this article provides a good introduction for analysis of Metamodernism/Abramson, but there is a real lack in follow up.

  7. thomasbrady said,

    January 28, 2014 at 3:35 pm


    You ask in what manner have we actually critiqued the article?

    I don’t know…by presenting the gist of it and quoting SA at length?

    As for the actual content of “metamodernism…” Duchamp once remarked, “If there’s no solution, maybe there’s no problem?” What if there’s no there there? What if there is no such thing as metamodernism, and if there’s a desire for one, fine, but is a critique supposed to invent something that doesn’t exist? We gave Seth ample room to talk about Andy Mister.


  8. said,

    May 19, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own weblog and was wondering
    what all is required to get setup? I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny?
    I’m not very internet savvy so I’m not 100% sure.

    Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you

    • thomasbrady said,

      May 19, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      My technicians tell me WordPress does most of the work and it costs less than you think…

  9. January 16, 2015 at 7:08 pm

    Those lines from Mister’s Liner Notes are horrible! That’s not poetry, it’s just blogue prose.

    • noochinator said,

      June 2, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      I flipped through Andy Mister’s Liner Notes — lots of fascinating anecdotes about the deaths of rock stars interspersed with less interesting Misterian attempts at profundity.

  10. Andrew said,

    July 25, 2015 at 2:54 am

    Octosyllabic rhyme was killed.
    Her epitaph I chisel here…
    so face the book and feed your twit;
    while I the rhythmic record clear.

    The sad remains of Lyric Wit
    are here interred – no more to rise
    (lest poets’ brains be forced to think
    and plummet from post-modern skies).

    The scrolling phonies Twitter-blink.
    The scribblers with advanced degrees
    look up and hearken to these words
    while feigning a conceited ease.

    The academic gallows-birds
    reviewing chap-books, high on fluff
    make darker the sepulchral gloom –
    as if it wasn’t dark enough.

    The verdict’s in and all assume,
    as structured meaning leaves the court,
    he meant to kill her (Poetry).
    Life’s sentences are written short.

    Her killer grinning artlessly
    in blank-verse handcuffs, void of rhyme,
    composes abstract lines, the dull
    memoirs of his poetic crime.

    The prosecution’s notes are full
    the case is made, the jury hears
    his guilt made evident, at least.
    The victim’s mother melts in tears…

    He murdered her himself, the beast.
    then dumped her: a deflowered rose
    his incoherent imagery
    dismembered her like slaughtered prose.

    She met her end lamentably;
    He did her in and cut her down
    thus shortening her metered day.
    (That evil abstract free-verse clown!)

    Behold her grave – where grass turns hay
    as poets’ bones subside to dust;
    her soul with God to reconvene
    (or wander with bemused disgust).

    Her grave-site paints a pastoral scene,
    poetic fodder – life from death…
    and calves shall fatten near her tomb.
    Oh coward reader: take a breath !

    • thomasbrady said,

      July 25, 2015 at 10:38 am

      Your indignation—
      Oh! A sensation!
      Tetrameter flow!
      Bravo, bravo!
      “You sound like a poet from long ago,”
      Is how these wretches are defended:
      Bloated bores!—I’m asleep, so not offended.

      • Andrew said,

        July 25, 2015 at 12:54 pm

        Thank you sir – may your sleep be sweet and the angels grant you dreams of poetry.

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