The Poets Are Pros Now, Like the Software Coders

Oracular spontaneity is rare these days, and heartfelt, inspired sloppiness underrated. The poets are pros now, like the software coders, and they function smoothly as nodes in the great network. Ginsberg was always a bug in the machine, though, and the chaos he caused rang alarms that brought repairmen. […] Silence … the one mistake Ginsberg never made. And because of the work he left, the life he led and the care that’s been taken preserving them, it’s one that he probably never will.

– Walter Kirn, Howler
(thanks to The Page for pointing it out)

Again, the pairing of poetry and code is here intended to leave a bad taste in the mouth. Yet precision and compactness are what make poetry great. Not the extracurricular antics of the poet.

To me Ginsberg seems to go down in history more for being a poet (among so many other things) than, in fact, for his poems. The spirit of the man came through his work, but he was indeed larger than life and certainly more than any page could contain. Iconoclast. Witty. And positioned at the crux of dramatic social change.

To me his work seems less perennial and transcendent than, say, Whitman–and to my mind is more relevant to history books than poetry anthologies. Still, he could teach us all a thing or two about “oracular spontaneity” (well put!) and the pleasures of being oneself in writing as in life.

Why must we make a dichotomy between being free and exacting in art?