Home > Imitation > Imitation: issue summary and index of imitative models

Imitation: issue summary and index of imitative models

June 8, 2012

by Dave Bonta and Siona van Dijk

Editing this issue was a delight. If you’re a regular reader, we hope you’ve enjoyed watching it unfold. Among the things it taught us: the distance between jest and reverence is sometimes not very great; imitations of one author in the style of another are more common than we thought; “difficult” and experimental writers attract almost as many imitators as the more accessible ones, perhaps because of the challenge they present; poems that are themselves imitations tend to attract further imitations (though we didn’t often choose the results for publication); and you all really, really like Wallace Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.”

Well, O.K., we sort of expected that last result. And it wasn’t a big surprise that we received multiple imitations of Hemingway, Dickinson and Plath, either. It makes sense that the most idiosyncratic authors and artists would be among the most often imitated: creative people are attracted to otherness, and putting on a mask that’s strikingly different from one’s own face brings out the inner child. Playfulness or the desire to improve one’s craft aren’t the only impulses at work in this issue, though. Sometimes an imitation responds to or expands upon a point made in the original work. And sometimes, too, parody seems like the best way to critique some lamentable tendency of the imitated author: Wordsworth’s sexism, Richard Lovelace’s fatuousness and Dylan Thomas’ failure to take his own advice about dying were all pilloried in this issue, for example.

At the other extreme, we were charmed that a few contributors went so far as to dedicate their pieces to the authors whose styles they imitated. There’s something touching and very human about the impulse to engage dead authors and artists in conversation. In some cases, of course, the imitated authors are still with us, so there’s a chance they’ll read these imitations. What must it be like to encounter this kind of tribute to the power of one’s work?

A few of the contributors to this issue are working on book-length collections in the imitative mode. We were pleased to be able to excerpt such ambitious projects as the collaborative “Odes of Opposition” by Lisa McCool-Grime and Nancy Flynn, Marilyn Annucci‘s manuscript After Her, and DeWitt Clinton‘s poem-by-poem response to Kenneth Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese.

It’s interesting to note the relative proportion of male to female authors and artists among the imitative models, which movements and national literatures are represented, and so forth. Rather than continue to try to summarize the issue, though, we thought it might be more useful to compile a complete index of imitative models.

What struck you most about this issue? Feel free to leave your own assessments in the comments.


The following links go to imitations in the issue, not to the original works or artists/authors.

Adcock, Fleur (“The Ex-Queen Among the Astronomers“)

Agee, James (A Death in the Family)

Albertí, Rafael (Sobre los ángeles)

Ashbery, John (general)

Atwood, Margaret (“Heart“)

Bacon, Francis (Self-portrait, 1972)

Balthus (telegram sent to the Tate Gallery, 1968)

Bishop, Elizabeth (“One Art“)

Bobrowksi, Johannes (“Fishing port“)

Borges, Jorge Luis (“Limits“)

Breton, Andre (“Free Union“)

Bukowski, Charles (general)

Canaletto (general)

Cisneros, Sandra (“You Bring Out the Mexican In Me“)

Collins, Billy (general)

cummings, e.e. (general)

Dickinson, Emily (“I heard a fly buzz when I died…“)

Drummond de Andrade, Carlos (“In the Middle of the Road“)

Eliot, T.S. (“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock“)

Gass, William (“In the Heart of the Heart of the Country“)

Ginsberg, Allen (general)

Glück, Louise (general)

Gregg, Linda (general)

Hardy, Thomas (“The Convergence of the Twain“)

Hass, Robert (“Meditation at Lagunitas“)

Hemingway, Ernest (general)

Hesiod (general)

Heynen, Jim (short stories)

Hopper, Edward (general)

Hughes, Ted (general)

Jarnot, Lisa (“Poem Beginning with a Line by Frank Lima“; “Ye white Antarctic birds“)

Keats, John (general)

Larkin, Philip (“Vers de Societé“)

Levine, Philip (general)

Lissaint, Carvens (“Tell Them“)

Lovelace, Richard (“To Lucasta, Going to the Wars“)

McBryde, Ian (Slivers)

Melville, Herman (Moby Dick: 1, 2)

Moore, Lenard D. (“Postcard to an Ecologist“)

Olson, Charles (The Maximus Poems)

Oppen, George (general)

Owen, Wilfred (“Dulce et Decorum Est“)

Pamuk, Orhan (My Name Is Red)

Parker, Dorothy (general)

Picasso, Pablo (Self-portrait / Autoportrait, 1972)

Plath, Sylvia (various; “You’re”: 1, 2)

P’o, Su Tung (“The Terrace in the Snow“)

Pound, Ezra (general)

Pulp magazines from the 1930s (Westerns)

Queneau, Raymond (Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes: 1, 2)

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn (Self Portrait with Beret and Turned-Up Collar)

Rexroth, Kenneth (One Hundred Poems from the Chinese)

Rich, Adrienne (“Final Notations“)

Rilke, Rainer Maria (“Archaic Torso of Apollo“)

Roethke, Theodore (“Cuttings (later)“)

Ryan, Kay (general)

Šalamun, Tomaž (“I Smell Horses in Poland“)

Shakespeare, William (Hamlet soliloquy; Sonnet 130)

Siken, Richard (Crush)

Smart, Christopher (“Jubilate Agno“)

Stein, Gerturde (general)

Stern, Gerald (“Spring“)

Stevens, Wallace (“Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird“)

Stevenson, Robert Louis (“My Shadow“)

Strand, Mark (“Keeping Things Whole“)

Thomas, Dylan (general)

Twain, Mark (general)

Uelsmann, Jerry (general)

Van Gogh, Vincent (Self-Portrait, September 1889)

Vasarely, Victor (general)

Vermeer, Johannes (Girl with a Pearl Earring)

Weston, Edward (Pepper, 1930)

Whitman, Walt (“Give Me the Splendid Silent Sun“)

Wilbur, Richard (The Beautiful Changes and Other Poems)

Williams, William Carlos (“The Widow’s Lament in Springtime“; general)

Woloch, Cecelia (“Blazon“)

Wordsworth, William (various)

Categories: Imitation Tags: ,
  1. June 12, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    Indeed, this was a delightful issue–revealing, humorous, moving; plus, your writers introduced me to some artists whose work I’m not familiar with. Innovation and exploration! I am so happy to have been included, but most happy to have encountered many revelations.

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