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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

Some Notes on Poetry and Poets in this Century, and my Influence Laura (Riding) Jackson

SOMEHOW, there have crept, into some areas of contemporary literary criticism commentary, low-keyed, low-voiced references to my "influence" in the development in the twentieth century of new techniques of critical procedure, new values of critical judgement. The references are few, spare; their effect on the general literary-critical consciousness of my presence in the century's literary life, in the form of standing impressions, has been as of pin-pricks so fine as to be both noticed and forgotten in one moment of experience. The same sort of critical handling has been visited upon my presence as a poet in the literary course of the century, with the attributions of "influence" somewhat lumpier in substance. Now and then there are found identifications of qualities of my poetic work "passed" into that of others, of such cliché particularity as to suggest little as to its intrinsic nature (see Stanley Kunitz, for instance, in Twentieth-Century Authors).

The actual story of my poetic work with regard to the matter of influence is that no poets have been seriously affected by it. None have had experience of it as what it is in its essential qualities that has drawn them into an attempt to discover a bond of nature between my poetic work and theirs. So long as no such attempt is made, poets who linger on the ground of my poems are trespassers on larceny bent. Larceny is much more a feature of contemporary modernism than it has been in any preceding poetic ...


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