In a 1997 essay, Joe Amato compares one of my favorite poets with one of my favorite novelists:
In what follows, I compare the work of a (very much alive) novelist with that of a (very much dead) poet. Specifically, I compare a recent (long) novel to a not-so-recent (long) poem. In doing so, I read what some will call “content” across two distinct literary genres. My reason for reading Richard Powers’s The Gold Bug Variations over and against Louis Zukofsky’s “A” is to help bring into clearer focus why we might do well to turn more of our critical and creative attention to perhaps the most neglected literary form of this century in North America — the long poem (and I am not the first to make this observation). At the same time, I hope to give some indication of why we might do well to continue to turn our critical and creative attention to the ways in which the literary constitutes a valuable site through which to understand our works and days.
Richard Powers is an accomplished novelist whose five (soon to be six [nine as of 2006—LH] novels plumb the controversies, latent and teeming, inherent to our highly technological milieu. I daresay that, for most of my readers, Louis Zukofsky, though an equally accomplished poet, will be a somewhat less recognizable, and more inaccessible, figure. I hope to show why both authors warrant continued scrutiny, why the work of literature, and of reviewing literature as I propose, may be vital to sustaining our social ecologies…
There’s a certain amount of jargon, but it’s worth it for the quotes and insights, and I like the idea of breaking down the wall between criticism of prose and poetry. (Via wood s lot.)