Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Participation in workshop, seminar, course
Theme: Art and Value. My paper: Whose voice do we value? James Merrill and the Dead. -- The work of American poet James Merrill is generally considered elegant and witty. In terms of form, Merrill is also considered not only a master of the traditional poetic meter, but also a wizard with the blank verse. Up until the 70s most critics did not only endorse Merrill’s work, but they also thought that it belonged among the finest there was. And then something else happened. Merrill started incorporating into his work occult messages received through séances with a Ouijia board. This brought him great acclaim also in the form of important prizes. My paper will look at how critics insist on celebrating a work that also insists overtly on having been inspired directly by dead spirits. Here it is interesting to observe how the critics’ celebration of Merrill’s poetry often tones down the occult charge in Merrill’s spiritual inclinations, thereby changing the value ascriptions dedicated to his work.