I've been reading comments about Orr's article on "greatness" since Saturday. Greatness is a difficult one because Orr's idea of what is "great" is different than my idea or your idea of what is "great," however, I think ambition is a bit more palatable. I'm not sure which contemporary poets Orr is reading-- but I can think of a ton of poets that Orr is NOT reading if he thinks that greatness & ambition will pass away with Ashbery.
Ken Kesey once said that he believes a man should be as big as he has it in him to be. Now let's remove the gendering of that comment and simply say a human should be as big as a human desires to be. I strive for "bigness," yeah I like to get my B.I.G. on-- often times it fails, but the inner-tune remains the same. The biggest problem with Orr's essay is that "greatness" seems to be engendered as "male." While not surprising, it does explain why he thinks greatness will die with Ashbery- we're surrounded with astounding works of "greatness," "ambition," and poems that live large aka "B.I.G." but Orr is not reading any of it-- which is his lost. I suggest he spends less time looking for "greatness" in Barnes & Nobles and supports small presses. Who knows, he just might stumble upon some inspiration.
Here's a list of other bloggers' thoughts:
Barbara Jane Reyes
John Emil Vincent
I think ultimately that the Orr article is worthy because it has generated some serious dialogue and many poets have taken up the challenge to not let him define us or our ambition.