Monday, January 13, 2003

So I was inspired to start blogging by all these other poets, all of them "languagey," but my commitment to, hell, I don't even know what to call it, "innovative poetics" is certainly not as strong as theirs. What am I committed to, really, other than critical thought, interesting language, and a vague intuition that one must engage fully with one's environment (your town, your school, your family, your art) in order to live right?

I think I and many other poets of my acquaintance are forming a new mainstream in poetry, one which has learned a good deal from the (ongoing) work of the Language poets and the New York School and the San Francisco/Black Mountain nexus—but some of us also like, say, Lowell and Berryman and Bishop and Plath—the poets I was brought up thinking were the only poets. I know now that isn't the case, and I heartily lament the fact that they continue to be the only poets for so many people (either in themselves or in their continued imitation, as documented for example in Jed Rasula's The American Poetry Wax Museum) but damnit, I still find that works (works, yes, not just texts) like "The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket," The Dream Songs, "In the Waiting Room," and Ariel still hold for me some of the same dark, originary exuberance that I get from the language of Shakespeare and Marlowe. Language that is young and strutting its stuff. I guess I'm talking about pleasure and pleading a case for a polymorphous perversity of poetics. I can get pleasure from these poets and Leslie Scalapino too. Of course I know it's not that simple, and that the means of production and publishing are still largely in the hands of the willfully senescent. Every book of poetry that makes it to the pages of the New York Times Book Review makes me want to cry, it's so boring. And when Joe Parisi says that his magazine "sees everything" and that therefore they always and only print "the best"—it simply isn't true.

Living poetry. Liveliness. Stein: "Verbs and articles and conjunctions and prepositions are lively because they all do something and as long as anything does something it keeps alive."

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