When I noticed the New York Times Book Review did a piece on Lyn Hejinian's Best American Poetry I thought, hmmm... I'm sure this will include an extensive, thrilled quotation from Kasey Silem Mohammad's poem Mars Needs Terrorists. I'm sure they wouldn't just run series of understated, threatened put-downs....

What we get is a picture of Lyn, which is shocking enough to see in the Book Review, with the words What Were You Thinking writ large below it. Then we get complaints that experimental poets are actually established, clearly too established for Orr's comfort. This is followed by complaints that the "traditional" sources BAP is taken from, Poetry, The Paris Review, etc. are missing.

I have to admit that I found Orr's comparison of the relative print runs of Shiny, The Yale Review and Cat Fancy amusing. Then the central complaints: the poetry here is not based on anecdote and "constructing a reliable voice."

Orr uses the second Matrix movie as a metaphor for what he sees as the weakness of experimental poetry. Metaphor can sometimes have a way of magnetically pulling away from uses the writer had intended for it. The closer, related, metaphor here would be the first Matrix film, where Neo, still in the ignorance-is-bliss Fox News/ Yale Review Matrix, is offered the pill and rabbit hole of a less reassuring but more real version of things (less based on anecdote and reliable voice you could say). Maybe Orr will one day go back and decide to take the other pill. You can imagine Lyn offering it to him with a sunglasses and an ankle-length leather trench coat. Lyn is Morpheus. Kasey is the pill itself.

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