The "Ritalin" School is Much More Focused

By Harriet Staff

Ah, well, the “members” of “schools” never really like the names of their “schools,” and I’m sure nobody will like this name either, though it is funny. Gregory Cowles, writing about National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes for the NYTimes blog, suggests that Hayes’ poems are indicative of a new “A.D.D.” school of writing:

Hayes’s work is terrific, and characteristic of a certain strain in contemporary poetry: it’s grounded in narrative even as it’s linguistically dense and playful, with allusions to formal verse traditions and to pop culture new and old. There’s an appealing restlessness and reach and witty musicality to these poets’ work — I’d put Angie Estes and Lucia Perillo in the same category — with meanings that can explode in a thousand directions in every line. As far as I know nobody has grouped them into a “school” yet, like the New York poets or the Language poets, but I like to think of them as the A.D.D. poets, and I’m always on the lookout for their latest offerings.

What’s nice about this formulation is it’s descriptiveness—even though these poets may not be a coterie in the way the New York school was, or a self-conscious group the Language poets were, we can imagine their affinities, and their relationship to contemporary life. After all, they’re now named after one of its maladies.

Originally Published: November 19th, 2010