March 2010

The Argument Against Imagism

Anyone who had the experience of pursuing an English degree in American universities over the past 25 years likely got their fill of the Imagist school of poetry. In the 1980's, a large crop of academic poets cleaved close to the principles of writers like Theodore Roethke and Elizabeth Bishop, as well as somewhat erroneously claiming William Carlos Williams and e.e. cummings among their forebears. They dubbed themselves The New Imagists, a loose collective of creative writing professors who by some fluke of timing came to occupy a majority of the top posts in higher education in America. This, thanks in large part to their artistic myopia, resulted in a woefully lopsided poetry curriculum.