Please describe how this version is more imagist than idiot I.

All joking aside, firestorm over at ModPo. My inbox has been lit up all night with responses to a thread I read earlier this afternoon in regards to students upset about the rubric results for our essays.

I ‘stole” this from the board. This is a very condensed version Al Filreis posted a while ago:

Below is a short version of the points I as instructor consider important to a reading of this poem as it follows the imagist principles. They are not distinct from what I would expect from anyone strictly following the assignment – which was to attempt to argue how version 2 more fully responds to imagist principles than version 1. These points (condensation, etc.) come directly from the manifesto. Hope this short version helps!

We now have a short version of the rubric (posted here and to the ModPo home page) and the longer detailed version. Here’s an even shorter one. A good essay considers version 2 as embodying the imagist principles by:

1) commenting on version 2’s brevity and condensation;

2) commenting on how the logical flow of version 2 is more direct and less complex than that of version 1;

3) commenting on the striking repetitive use of prepositions to create connections between the figures and thus create a clear image;

4) commenting on the subject position of the absent speaker/observer to reinforce the imagistic attempt at an objective rendering of the scene;

5) commenting on the poem’s possible nod to painterly or poetic tradition in order to break from symbolism as imagism does.


What is truly wonderful about all of this…I think I NOW halfway understand the minute points of imagist poetry that I would not have had I not utterly failed the assignment. Now when I compare version I to version II there is an Understanding of what bullet point 3 of manifesto meant – freedom of subject choice. There is a True grasp of bullet point 4, that though Imagist are not painters, they harness the ability for a painterly ‘portraiture’ with exactness of language.

If we delve a bit deeper, utilizing the above brief rubric, and re-read version I & II, there is no denying how II is by far able to defend the ideas of the Imagist manifesto whilst addressing such interesting concepts of subjectivity and poetic tradition.

Before today, my interpretation of subjectivity was in reference of subject, i.e. subjective/objective. What I’ve since deduced is that subjectivity is in relation to the one not of the scene – the observer. How does WCW position the scene to infer relation of object to subject (as I write this, I’m still a bit fuzzy). The answer, however, as clearly drawn in version II, is how he uses ‘pressed/ to the glass’. The child’s nose is pressed to the glass. We are (reader) he is (writer) observing this scene through a window. All of this draws a greater question – what are we observing? Who is observing. I now understand that despite WCW stating the poem is the machine, it doesn’t mean that the poem is devoid of emotion. It is just that the emotion should be generated from the concrete clear images, not decorative language.

Finally, bullet 5 of this rubric, which is most fascinating, the notion of poetic tradition, or to be devoid of symbolism in order to uphold the imagist manifesto. How clever (as it was pointed out today) that this may be a modern depiction of Mother & Child – Mother & Child a completely traditional symbolic sculpture – yet in this modern representation, could it  not be an ironic twist of said symbolism…

Who knew 23 words would generate such a passionate outpouring. Who knew that a student body connected only by this digital fortress in the name of learning would be so vocal for a course not graded. Is this all in the name of ego? Meh, perhaps… or perhaps, that is the genius  of This…Modern Poetry.



2 thoughts on “idiot underconstruction, verison II

  1. Have to say, Angela, no idiot resides on this blog. I think there was good reason for that firestorm, and I only wish I’d seen Al’s clarification before I wrote, then re-wrote my evals (I did it twice, I was so confused, but I’m not doing it again). It was a terrible feeling, absent Al’s clarification, to review the essays and realize that, like mine, they didn’t meet the initial rubric points, while at the same time, they did, it seemed to me, meet the points raised by the assignment. My final choice was to abandon the rubric and do my best to eval based on my understanding of the actual assignment. I suspect what may have happened here is that Al wasn’t around, and someone else on the team took a crack at it. The point of view of the rubric was interesting (more interesting than the assignment), but, IMHO, it didn’t reflect what was assigned. I will confess, in the end, that I don’t find imagism terribly interesting. It had its moment in the sun, and I understand why it was radical in that moment, but it was far too prescriptive, and like all such movements in the arts, it not only had to, but needed to die out for artistic creativity to thrive.

    • Hi Susan, thank you for your thoughtful reply. I’d not worry too much regarding how you dealt with fellow student’s papers. I’m hoping that anyone who has read any part of the ModPo thread posted above will realize that nothing should be taken to heart.

      This has been a humbling exercise for me. I’ve a terrible habit of doing things with ‘one eye’ while the other is focused on something else. This course has taught me that my half attention to the videos probably contributed to my lack of understanding of the bigger picture – i.e. Imagist paints a scene so to speak. Then again, after reading Marks reply re:subject (on a WCW blog post) I wonder if there are not other concepts that could have an altered interpretation. OY!

      Your closing lines gave me some good food for thought. I must say that the prescriptive nature of any art does suffocate it, no?
      Perhaps this is due to my lazy-nature, but I find most labels in art are suffocating…it’s as if you need to know the rubric first or you may miss the whole point! Then again (as I asked Mark) is it wrong to appreciate something for what it seems to you, even if you don’t get the whole Academy POV…?

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