Adonis and the Literary Elite
I’m always grateful for news about the great Syrian poet Adonis, though this article by Charles McGrath is just perfunctory enough to be annoying. The author compares Adonis—a poet who has dragged Arabic poetry into modernity and taken an intellectual stand against the violent and regressive forces in contemporary Arab culture—to the likes of Paul Muldoon and Jorie Graham, who—so far as I know—have never (unlike Adonis) taken political stands that landed them in prison or produced poems that both radically critique the culture from which they spring and offer a positive alternative vision. Does McGrath not see a difference? Or is it just that—to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld—you go to press with the literary elite you have, not the literary elite you might want?