Sunday, July 18, 2004

Jonathan worries about the possibility of my following in Oren Izenberg's footsteps with my dissertation. But be assured that while Izenberg's basic insight about Language poetry's most fundamental gesture rings true with me, I don't accept his idea that every poem is just a boring demonstration or iteration of that gesture. Different Language poems and poets have diverse aesthetic effects, even I dare say "content" in the old-fashioned sense. Nor am I going to insist on "pastoral" as a unitary genre or entity that subdues all visible differences between John Clare and John Ashbery (that reminds me: I have to spend some time with the new Angus Fletcher book).

What excites me about this project is how I'm beginning to construct a theoretical armature for poetry that feels true to my own practice, my spider-sense of poetry if you will. I'm sure many poets have had my experience of reading some critic or other and thinking, "This person has no idea what really goes into writing a poem, none—no sense the decisions made or the experience of making them." This theory speaks to my grandest aspirations for poetry—and why pursue such a maddening, ignorable art without oversized expectations for some future poetic Aufhebung?

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