Critique of Gelpi’s “The Geneology of Postmodernism: Contemporary American Poetry”
Gelpi’s (1990) article, “The Geneology of Postmodernism: Contemporary American Poetry” is written for seasoned lovers of American literature. Although the author describes the different characteristics of postmodernist poetry by naming various poets and quoting parts of their works, not every reader in the world is expected to know the poets and phrases picked by the author. As another example of the difficulties readers may experience in reading Gelpi’s article, he quotes the poet, Stevens, twice in a sentence in the first part of his article without mentioning the poem or work where the quotations have been found (Gelpi).
Clearly, plagiarism is not the intent of the author. Rather, he expects all his readers to be informed of the first name of Stevens and the poet’s important works – enough to know where the quotes were picked from. Of a certainty, the above mentioned problems with Gelpi’s article should be described as distractions, even though the author does a marvelous job explaining postmodernist features of the poems he writes about.
If he had chosen to write about a single poem, however, his article would have been easier to read – not only by seasoned lovers of literature but also students. For this reason, those that are new to reading postmodernist features in poetry would find that Hongladoram’s article is certainly easier to understand. Although Hongladoram does not write about famous poets such as Whitman and Ezra Pound as does Gelpi, reading a single poem to comprehend postmodernism is less complex than trying to figure out what “Schoenberg’s jarring atonalities” must refer to (Gelpi).
What is more, it is easier to understand postmodernism in poetry by reading an introduction to the subject before perusing Gelpi’s article. For example, the article, “Postmodernism in Poetry” (2007) describes four characteristics of postmodern poems that the reader would find rather useful before jumping on to Gelpi’s article. After all, Gelpi expects his readers to read all the poets and works he is making reference to, regardless of whether he supplies enough information about them.