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Ashes for Saddam

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  • mandreox
    Why are we in Iraq? Saddam even tried to kill my Dad, the President has said. Poet and painter and politician wield their power differently. Men in my family
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 20, 2004
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      Why are we in Iraq? "Saddam even tried to kill my Dad," the
      has said.

      Poet and painter and politician wield their power differently. Men in
      my family occasionally win small-potatoes elections in Ontario,
      Canada; but these men are really business men. I know Eugene McCarthy
      and have published him in Unmuzzled OX; but McCarthy's really a
      I met Ramsey Clark through Daniel Berrigan but Dan's a poet and
      priest, yes, but really Dan's an activist.

      In the art world however there's the interesting case of the
      Alex Katz and his son, the writer Vincent Katz. Over the years
      written art criticism for the Village Voice, Art in America and ART
      News. I interviewed MaCarthy and Berigan and W.H. Auden and Allen
      Ginsberg and oh yeah Andy Warhol. I love art but at the moment the
      analogy between the politics of the art and poetry world and that
      politics of the whole world concern me and inform my view of George

      Poets have worked as art critics for the last two hundred years,
      from Baudelaire and Apollinaire in France to Peter Schjeldahl and
      John Ashbery today in New York.

      At the urging of a painter and art dealer who were in fact supplying
      the labor and money Unmuzzled OX hosted a Vincent Katz reading at
      the dealer's gallery. Because of his father, art world
      flocked to the event. The dealer and the painter regarded the event
      as a great success. A year later Jeff Wright's Cover sponsored
      and Vincent reading at a different gallery. The painter who
      originally urged me to sponsor the first reading came up to me after
      the second reading and bitterly summed up Vincent as untalented,
      unpleasant and very successful. This painter, as you might expect,
      shortly afterwards gave up painting altogether and left New York.

      I think Vincent Katz is in fact quite talented but I had to admit
      that I found Vincent and his father unpleasant and rude. We had just
      met, but they seemed to dislike me. Why? Could it be--art world

      Perhaps it stems this passage from a poem rewriting Aesop which was
      printed a number of times in the 1970s and has had an odd tendancy to
      pop up in literary discussions:

      "Yuh, that's the same ox,"
      Said the crab, in whose mouth

      Appeared a toothpick.
      "Started to lose weight.

      The farmer has a mean dog
      Who likes to sleep in the manger

      And whenever the ox
      Goes to eat

      He growls and snaps and won't let him.''

      "What a selfish beast!" said Robin
      "He can't eat oats and yet

      Won't let those eat who can.
      What's this dog's name?"

      "Ashbery," answered the crab.
      "Oh Ashbery," said Robin

      "He's given me a lot of trouble too.
      I used to visit the grape arbor

      With the intention of repast
      And Ashbery would bark

      And I'd have to run off, hungry.
      But I now believe those grapes are sour."

      "Things always work out," said the crab.
      "Uh hun, uh hun," said Robin.

      Calling John Ashbery a dog-in-the-manger in 1976 may have been a bad
      politico-literary move. Ashbery had stood me up for an interview and
      I thought that was a witty way of expressing my displeasure.

      I had done something like this in 1971. I was a grad student and
      Ashbery read in a poetry series I ran. In a poem I joshed that his
      work was difficult, then said I was being "snarky." Someone
      must have
      shown Ashbery the poem, because the next time he read in my series he
      requested that a Tenniel illustration for The Hunting of the Snark be
      used for the poster.

      I think he didn't find it so funny the second time. Wouldn't
      rather be a cat than a dog in the manger? Or maybe folks no longer
      wage wars the way Pope and Swift did in the days of The Dunciad.
      Despite some evidence of other activities, it seems to me that John
      Ashbery has spent the last thirty years quietly revenging himself.
      Indeed, a well-known poet, editor and novelist recently asked
      me, "Why does John Ashbery hate you so very much?"

      Watch who you badmouth in poems or the poems may bite you back.
      Ashbery is an arbiter of taste. He has declared Aklex Katz one of the
      great living painters. Do you think maybe my name came up in
      conversations between John and Alex? "He even called my Man a
      Alex would then say, if so, to his son.
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