Despite this, soft surrealism—that is, a little incoherence there, an out of place violent or sexual image there (no one tries to actually use automatism)—is still relatively popular today. It makes a poem look edgy, in-the-know, and it has a nice leftist pedigree. The problem is that this soft surrealism can hide incompetence and often adds nothing to a poem, other than the above stylish marking. (Examples—almost all published this month—can be found herehereherehere, and here.)
       Stephen Burt has written against this soft surrealism, which he calls “elliptical poetry,” and has suggested that a renewed focus on objects in poetry—on “well-made, attentive, unornamented things”—might (and should) replace the “slippery, digressive, polyvocalic,…overlapping, colorful fragments” of a still fashionable soft surrealism.
       I would propose a different route. Getting rid of incoherence, meaningless images, fragmented syntax, and so forth, could open a much needed opportunity for a fantastic in poetry that makes sense. Too long has the fantastic been wedded to Breton’s watered-down automatism, and breaking definitively free from it might open the field for more poems like Marly Youmans’s Thaliad or Joe Fletcher’s Sleigh Ride. And that would be a very good thing.
There are some interesting responses... And I don't know Joe Fletcher. I'll have to remedy that gap!