Archive | March, 2011

Looking Forward — a talk with Michael Gottlieb (part one)

31 Mar

Michael Gottlieb is the author of fifteen books including New York, Gorgeous Plunge, Lost and Found (containing the seminal 9/11 poem “The Dust”), and The Likes of Us.  Of Michael’s most recent book, Memoir and Essay, Elizabeth Fodanski wrote: “What A Moveable Feast did for Paris, Memoir and Essay does for New York City…”  During the ’80’s, Michael helped edit the seminal literary magazine, Roof.  More of Michael’s work can be found at http://michaelgottliebwriting.tumblr.com/

SM:    While reading your MEMOIR & ESSAY, I was really struck by the description of your “shock of the new” reaction (on page 29) upon reading an untitled piece of Clark Coolidge’s in the sixth issue of THIS.  Firstly, it was a great scene: you were in the back room of the legendary and beloved (and now closed, of course) Gotham Book Mart, perusing the magazines, and CC’s piece really grabbed you.  It had no title, but you noticed on the copyright page that This Press had also published his THE MAINTAINS.  You ran to the front room to see if they had that book, and there it was:

might that this which is so mean so to say as even since this’s

though’s so and might such since the more the more

from stop either also done and that even about such

to current plants it might one is yet

very such small

the very so

such a such

lasts even or as means are about the so

said so to say mingles means and maybes

the such’s part close type part the as yet grain one

yet is more close to such’s since a means a like having

a sure so and such an even ever through

a yet even too over part of an even said so through

so’s just about then one more once this

You wrote: “It was clear to me from that moment on: you didn’t need to tell stupid stories any more.  A poem could be about what it was supposed to be about — the  indigestible, irreducible, unredeemable words that flung themselves at us every day, the language that, in its infuriating, inexhaustible, immeasurable confusion, yet limitless precision, lived, teeming, out there, outside our door.  There could be no subject, or at least no subject greater than this.  Let the words be themselves, don’t try and yoke them into some tyranny of argument, they would tell you what they were about.  And they did, they eventually told me that all poems, all art, in our part of the world at least, for the last several hundred years at least, had circled around largely the same set of worries, hopes, fears.  This was the way to follow Williams’ dictum.  To others what we produced seemed — or seems still — to be ugly, meaningless . . . And that’s the way it was, and the way it should be.”

That’s an incredible, wonderful delineation of discovery.  So, let me ask you a couple of questions about it (I said I would ask you two questions, but as I’m writing this I thought of more!) …

You’re talking about the beginnings of what came to be called Language Poetry there, obviously, a mode/model that has held a kind of sway over a section of the poetry populace for about 40 years.  And that’s a long time — possibly the longest for any “movement” or “school.”   So my first question, then, is: why do you think this particular poetry, a poetry about words/language — words/language both immeasurable and precise, and teeming daily in horrible proximity to us — has been such a present and contentious force for so long? Another idea that caroms off that might be: it sounds like you’re saying that this immeasurable yet precise thing known as language has a personal directive to fling itself at us in the hope of somehow being understood on its own terms, if the poet/medium would just desist in trying to connect it to something else (like traditional rhetorical imperatives) …  but that would imply that language itself has a goal — to be understood.   Do you think that might be true?  And if so, why?  Finally, you say that once you allowed words to be “themselves,” they revealed something about all art to you.  This seems to suggest an almost-religious revelation, and a kind of heroism … do you think there was a feeling of heroism in the early days of Language Poetry?

MG: First of all, I need to sound a word of appreciation.  While this book has gotten, I guess, considerably more notice than I’m used to, and its focus on the Gotham Book Mart, and its role in my — as in so many other writers’ lives —  has been pointed out, the actual, pivotal role, life-changing, role of that issue of Barrett Wattens’ magazine, THIS, and Coolidge’s book THE MAINTAINS hasn’t, I guess, been referenced as often. Having said that, though, I don’t think that experience of mine is so unusual.  I tend to think, or  want to believe, that if we poll a random sample of poets, we’d find a significant segment who’ve had just that kind of moment.

But, to your first question… e.g. why has Language poetry held sway for so long (as you put it “…possibly the longest for any “movement” or “school.”   … why do you think this particular poetry… has been such a present and contentious force for so long?)  I have a couple of thoughts, but first a number of caveats.  First caveat:  although some do aver that Language poetry has come to take a central role in English-language poetry, in fact growing, over the last several decades, into the principal kind of avant-garde, experimental, non-traditional (insert progressivist adjective of choice here) poetry, there are many, many poets who reject that description.  And those deniers don’t only include those who have never been able to stomach its basic propositions or approaches; it also includes, I believe, some of its most well-known practitioners, who — I think it is fair to say — believe that it has never in fact received the due that it is truly due.  Second caveat:  I’m not sure that Language poetry has indeed had a longer run than others one might compare it to; e,g, a longer sway than the New School (not that that’s a fair comparison).

But, if it has, if Language poetry has stuck around longer than some disinterested observers might have thought it would have or could have or should have, a number of possible reasons suggest themselves. The one I prefer is this: the argument that Language poetry posed back in the 70s, was in fact so compelling, powerful, revolutionary in fact that, for a long time, for a very long time, there was no getting past it. There, I said it. I said it and I believe it. So shoot me. There are others of course, I’ll just offer one up as a conversation-starter, so to speak… There is the argument that Language poetry has stuck around for so long because it became accepted by the academy so quickly. That is, I think we would all agree, a fairly widely held view. The connections between Language poetry and its early practitioners who embraced a theory and criticism in a way that at the time was certainly deemed worthy of note, on the one hand, and the certainly unfairly-damned- as-merely-fashionable literary theory that was sweeping through academia at time, and the alleged way that the latter leveraged the ‘acceptability’ of the former has also been discussed before.  Then, one might draw inferences as to extent to which the forces, pressures, the grinding of tectonic plates of academia could, possibly, tend to keep a certain kind of writing, which has established itself in English departments and writing programs, from seeming outdated. That is another question others have addressed. For my part, in “Jobs Of The Poets,” (the essay in MEMOIR AND ESSAY), I did try and ask questions that did seem relevant to the life-choices poets make which lead so many to academia, as well as the follow-on questions — regarding what kind of literary choices (if this is about choice) those primary choices could lead people to then make.

I do need to say that although I’ve been engaged now in memoir-work for some time — a multi-part project that seems to have no end-point yet — this kind of backward-looking has less interest for me than looking forward. I’m frankly more interested in what comes next. The folks engaged in Flarf and Conceptualist writing, people like Nada Gordon, Drew Gardner, Rob Fitterman, Gary Sullivan, Katie Degentesh, Kenny Goldsmith, Christian Bok, K. Silem Mohammad, Steve Zultanski and so many others are doing incredibly exciting work. If this is what is next, I say bring it.  I go to these people’s readings, I pick up their books, and I am thrilled, moved, disoriented — in a good way —  in a way I haven’t been for so long. I am loving it. For example: I was at the Bowery Poetry Club yesterday and heard Brandon Brown read. He’s someone whose work I am familiar with but I’d never never seen him read. And he just knocked me out. I can’t remember the last time I sat in a darkened room and heard someone do that, he just turned the world upside down, shook it a few times and handed it back.

And, if Language poetry has had its day, and this is what’s coming next, I’m okay with that. Well, more or less okay. I’m writing an essay right now.  It’s a kind of sequel to “Jobs Of The Poets” — which was really addressed at younger poets.  This one is for poets who are a bit further on.  It’s called “Letters To A Middle-Aged Poet.”  Like the first one, it is organized as a set of questions. Each section starts off with a question, followed by more questions. This one asks question like: ‘what happens when you’re an avant garde poet and you wake up one morning and you’re not in the avant garde anymore?’

Your second question, Sharon, is a terrific one (“…that would imply that language itself has a goal — to be understood.   Do you think that might be true?  And if so, why?”).  I think though, if we start going down it (and I say this because I note now the length of my response to your first question — which I already cut down considerably from its original) we may up having a linguistics conversation, which I’d welcome but this really is a huge topic unto itself and, I’m going to suggest, might best be reserved for later on, or another time.

As for your third question (”do you think there was a feeling of heroism in the early days of Language Poetry?”)… ‘heroism’ is such a freighted term.  Certainly, as a number of people who’ve commented on MEMOIR AND ESSAY have said, the scene as it is depicted in the book comes across to a certain degree as a kind of boys club and that, I suppose, might have fostered such sentiment in the hearts of some… in the way that — if perhaps this is a likely comparison – the first generation Abstract Expressionist painters, certainly a male-dominated group are said to have thought of themselves. But I don’t remember thinking such thoughts. In terms of self-identification, aside from how I thought of myself as a Language writer, a Language poet, I simply thought of myself downtown New York poet.  I  considered myself part of a world that consisted of a few people in New York — whose work I was interested in and who were interested in mine, a few more in the Bay Area and a few others scattered across the map. Getting published back then meant my work would get in the hands of those people, of that number of people, and that seemed pretty great to me.

— to be continued  . . .

The Collapse of the Poetry Economy — an interview with Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl

16 Mar

Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl, founding member of the Nýhil cooperative, is an Icelandic poet, author of three novels, and an avid translator of foreign literature. He works with performance and sound-poetry, and regularly dabbles in the dark arts of the concrete. For more information about his performances and writings go to: http://www.norddahl.org/english/about/

SM: I detected a kind of “mea culpa” in a couple of the essays in your forthcoming collection, Booby, Be Quiet! (from Nihil Interit / poEsia-series, Finland, September, 2011) about Icelandic artists accepting money from Landsbanki Islands, the National Bank of Iceland.  I had a huge argument many years ago with a musician from Chicago who said artists should never accept money from corporate entities (whether for-profit or not-for), and meanwhile he had done that exact thing.  And then my overall feelings about the relation of the money economy to the art economy are fraught, too … I think maybe we are verging on a class issue, no??  Class seems to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room, always.  In most of your essays you seem to touch directly on this, or carom off it, or refer to it, and I was thinking that maybe it’s time poets start talking — really discussing, in normative syntax with traditional grammar — about these “economies”?

EON:  Yes, it’s a crazy relationship, money and arts. But I’m not sure the money actually “taints” the art — not as such. But it does screw up the perception of it, at least in the short-run, creating for it a frame of reference which may or may not have anything to do with the actual work (the “meaning” of the work or the “function” of the work, the “mechanics” of the work, may disappear behind the corporate idea, in a “positive” “medici” “feel-good” way for some and a more dyster, capitalist-horror way for others). But that being said, I tend to also feel that we need to look at it from the corporate world — I thoroughly disagree with the grand-capitalist system (not that I’m against buying and selling, as much as I’m opposed to “owning” on a grand scale, limitless “owning”) — so whether or not to (again) allow a bank to sponsor my book or a series of books I have a part in is not so much a question of what will it do to my art (I hope my book will be rid of the stamp in a few more years, that it’ll get to stand apart and get reevaluated) but what it’ll do for the bank. And I’d like to do as little good for banks as I can get away with. All this being said, we’re in a shitty business and doomed to eternal poverty and I’d much rather spend my money on an iPad than a print-run, I’d much rather spend it on having writing-time than a print-run — but I don’t get to decide the dynamics of the world and I have to be aware of what my participation means, what happens if I press this button and what happens if I press that  button. I can then learn “to live with it” — but not until I accept what it means.

SM: Okay, I want to break that down a bit into questions … firstly, about “meaning,” “function” and “mechanics.”  If I’m reading that correctly, you’re saying that the presence of money around a work creates a frame of reference which may or may not have anything to do with the actual work — and the meaning of the work may disappear behind the corporate idea.  But as you know there are various kinds of monies that can exist around a work: monies given by corporate entities that want to have a say in the work (like movie studios, for instance), governmental agencies (here in the states it’s the National Endowment for the Arts and state-run arts councils) and monies given by private foundations. Usually, with grants given by governmental agencies and private foundations, the artist is relatively free to do whatever with the money (although the committees that decide who gets the money may be biased — for instance the NEA really doesn’t fund the kind of projects it used to, after the debacle with the “NEA Four”: see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NEA_Four and http://www.franklinfurnace.org/research/essays/nea4/neatimeline.html). Before the situation with the NEA Four — and, really, even now, if you get the grant — artists were pretty much given the money to do with what they wanted.  In that case, how would monies impact the “meaning” of a piece?  I guess what I’m asking is: if you’re given the money to use as you see fit, with no restrictions as to how it should come out, does THAT impact the meaning of the work?  Or its function, or mechanics?

You also wrote:  I tend to also feel that we need to look at it from the corporate — I thoroughly disagree with the grand-capitalist system (not that I’m against buying and selling, as much as I’m opposed to “owning” on a grand scale, limitless “owning”)

Ah, but in a democracy, ownership is relative, yes?  If developers can purchase “air rights,” then you and I purchases copies of “Howl,” right?  I see you made a distinction there between just plain “owning” (a pot to piss in) and “limitless ‘owning'” (air rights, eminent domain-enabled land-grabbing, etc.), but can a distinction be made?

You also wrote:  Whether or not to (again) allow a bank to sponsor my book or a series of books I have a part in is not so much a question of what will it do to my art (I hope my book will be rid of the stamp in a few more years, that it’ll get to stand apart and get reevaluated) but what it’ll do for the bank.

And that kind of goes back to what I was writing to you earlier about artists having carte blanche in terms of how they use the money, which is the case in some situations.  I mean, really, there are all kinds of situations (Michaelangelo & the Medici; Vincent van Gogh & his brother Theo — both those artists having very different relationships with their patrons) and of course these situations have changed over time as economies have changed.  I know a few artists now who get money from other people, but my feeling about their relation to their lifestyles is that they’re a little embarrassed … I don’t know for sure, but I get the feeling that they prefer their sources of income remain un-discussed.  On the other hand, when I was younger, I knew artists in the same situation, and it wasn’t such a big secret.  But what I’m talking about here is singular individuals (but perhaps with family backing) helping other singular individuals, and you were talking about corporations, like banks.  Although you said in your book of essays that a few crowned heads were funding Icelandic artists … I guess I’m trying to decide whether there’s a difference between a person getting money from another person and a person getting money from a corporation.  Grey area(s)?

You also wrote: …  I’d much rather spend my money on an iPad than a print-run, I’d much rather spend it on having writing-time than a print-run …

In other words: time is money?

And lastly: … but I don’t get to decide the dynamics of the world and I have to be aware of what my participation means, what happens if I press this button and what happens if I press that button. I can then learn “to live with it” — but not until I accept what it means.

In a world run by invisible corporate entities, though, can we know what pressing those buttons mean?

EON: Money may be given to artists to “do whatever they want” but it’s then only given to artists likely to produce certain types of work which the committee (or whomever decides who gets the money) likes. So the burgeoning artist will inevitably ask himself/herself “what can I do to get my hands on that money” and may then either do that or strive not to (in order to remain “pure”); either way the grants and the awards and all of that is already at play, pushing and pulling on both content and form, not to mention creating a certain type of hysteria amongst poets (which is very evident in the amount of self-promotion and networking conducted by poets on Facebook – I’m not dissing it, necessarily, but it looks a bit like the symptom of societal illness).

The meaning doesn’t always disappear, often it’s just distorted, sometimes for awhile, sometimes forever. But aligning yourself with anything (with or without accepting money) is always going to be problematic — and not aligning yourself with anything is stupid and impossible. Pound was right in sticking up for what he believed in, no matter if that was fascism, and I’m right in thinking he was a dick for doing so — Pound’s poetry would not have been Pound’s poetry had he been somebody else, and yes a lot of it is fascist poetry. And if one is a Sony kinda poet, one should get Sony kinda sponsorship – one shouldn’t accept money from any program one is not willing to defend (at least in principle — I don’t mean defending all choices of the money-giving committee past, present and future, but the existence of the fund as such).

First they get you one the way in, and then on the way out — the fund influences the work of anyone seeking funding from it (perhaps not as overtly as when Viking-era poets would praise their kings, but still), and by accepting money from the fund you accept that you are a carrier of it’s principles. If these are Pringles corporate principles, make sure you’re really OK with the ‘once you pop you can’t stop’ philosophy; if it’s child labour, make sure that’s your thing; or, as an alternative, you can be a proud self-embracing sell-out (just don’t whine when I call you a dick).

As for the distinction in owning one could try and take a variant on Mills stand on freedom, and say something like: as long as you owning something doesn’t deprive me of owning it, you can have it. So that a hardcopy of Howl in printed form may be mine,  but I have no right to deprive you of a digital copy — like I have no right to forbid you from sharing an idea (I can ask nicely, if I plan to use it and want to be “first” — but I cannot ban it without copyrighting and copyrighting is just shitty behaviour).

Added to this, it’s not a proper democracy in a capitalist economy, unless everybody has the same income.

You asked: I guess I’m trying to decide whether there’s a difference between a person getting money from another person and a person getting money from a corporation.  Grey area(s)?

And: In a world run by invisible corporate entities, though, can we know what pressing those buttons mean?

I’m taking these as sort of the same question, knowing about buttons and grey areas. I think knowing about the exact functions of the buttons is hard, but we can make educated guesses (or autodidactic guesses for that matter). And I think the problem isn’t that we don’t often know when we are in ethical grey areas but that we use the grey to excuse ourselves. We mask ourselves in grey. And not just artists, everybody. When one buys t-shirt sewn in China we think that all factories in China can’t be slave driven and people need to work and once upon a time we were also poor starving seamstresses and in time the small hands sewing our t-shirts will also get to fidget with iPads (other than putting them together). And even the heads of the corporate entities aren’t really responsible for whom the contractor in China hires to sew and assemble. And the contractor in China has to keep people out, accepting bribes and favours for positions in the slave factory, ‘cause yes it’s better than starving — so whose fault is it then? And the Hollywood superstar posing in the t-shirt on billboards or the alternative grunge band recording their albums on the iPad in exchange for Apple sponsorship or whatever, they’re just promoting a product they believe in while trying to make the payments on their houses (for who knew being rich was so expensive?). And experimental poets want to have all the gadgets because we need to be making e-books to be cutting edge — am I supposed to throw away my Macbook Pro and write with pencil and how am I supposed to know who made the pencil and that they got a decent salary (and besides, buying fair trade is far too expensive, I’m a poor poet and I’ll need to wait until the prices drop)?

Getting money from a person — depends on the person. And buttons — we can try and ask ourselves honestly, in the brutal kind of manner, and see if the buttons stand up to scrutiny. There’s no being completely independent, there’s no world where doors have no buttons or knobs that need no pushing and no turning. But that doesn’t mean one should just shrug one’s shoulders — that one shouldn’t be crazy indignant and try to be at least somewhat independent. It’s like everything else. When you talk to someone, there’s no knowing beforehand whether or not they’ll freak out at what you have to say, but most people still try to engage in meaningful conversation which belittles neither party. Artists have to live like everybody else, but they should neither be whores for everything and anything nor dicks in support of evil.

And finally, about time being money — money and time don’t have a one to one relation, money is sort of rent and sort of food and rent and food sustain the body during time. Does that make sense?

SM:  Yes, but money and time are a kind of capital, right?  And both can (be) collapse(d)!

EON:  The greatest difference is of course that whereas we’re continually trying to keep money from crashing (and not succeeding) we’re continually trying to collapse time (and not succeeding). Much poetry is based on collapsing time, if not all poetry — of rendering past and projecting future while trying to maintain several presents.

SM:  Okay, let’s go back to what you were saying at the beginning, about: the burgeoning artist will inevitably ask himself/herself “what can I do to get my hands on that money” and may then either do that or strive not to (in order to remain “pure”); either way the grants and the awards and all of that is already at play, pushing and pulling on both content and form, not to mention creating a certain type of hysteria amongst poets (which is very evident in the amount of self-promotion and networking conducted by poets on Facebook — I’m not dissing it, necessarily, but it looks a bit like the symptom of societal illness).

But then we are all afflicted by said illness, right?  ‘Cause I have a blog, you have a site, etc.  It seems to me that the Internet-based self-promotion and networking isn’t just the same chapbook/newsletter/glad-handing-at-readings that has always occurred … it’s just done now via the “there’s no (t)here (t)here” Interweb.  This seems kinda obvious, really.  It’s possible now to be involved in a “movement” that doesn’t even exist in real time.

EON:  All I’m saying is that that should not be an excuse for anything – we should try to be aware of it and deal with it (for or against, left, right, forwards backwards, this is a serious form of dancing). Instead of acting like there aren’t walls in the house, because we’re such fucking independent artists nothing can touch us.

We may also over-estimate the facetime of ol’time poetry cooperatives. There was a lot of living in Paris and Tangiers and New York and wherever, loads of letters moving about and telephone calls. Probably there were shorter times, up to a few years, of intense face-time — but it’s all sort of … I ‘m thinking about the Beats in particular, compared to Flarf for instance or Conceptual Poetry or the Swedish Language Materialists, Nýhil in Iceland or even the whole European post-avant society (which is an unorganized network of hundreds of people, who’ve heard of each other and have some sort of idea of each other, and some have correspondance etc. but not really a “group” per se). For one thing, the Beats had several places and several times, with different individuals being center-stage at given times (my feeling is that the Beat scene was wherever Ginsberg was, and whomever he was corresponding — not to mention sleeping —  with, although that is quite the sweeping simplification). I’m rambling. I don’t know how it’s different — although I do feel that perhaps poetry (art, literature) in the olden days was more submerging, that people put a greater emphasis on becoming their art, being true to their art not only in the art but also in everything else. If you cooked, you cooked Beat, if you taught grammar, you taught grammar Beat, if you raised children, you raised them Beat. I have a feeling it’s generally more careerized now, although the great mist of myth may have something to do with that, my feeling may be all wrong, and perhaps people just used to be better at projecting the correct image — whereas our hypersensitivity to image-making, our keen understanding of it, due to the growing intensity of media, may make it much harder for us to project the image we’d like, as we’d look like poseurs, everybody knows from last Christmas’ Facebook-photos at mom’s that we’re not always crazy cool, that our crazy cool is an act — the strongest facet of our identity has become the crisis that we’re having with our identity – I can’t even leave the dishes till tomorrow without feeling like a 1950’s Mad Men misogynist, if I have a beer with dinner, am I then an alcoholic, what if I really, really, really like the beer with dinner? Then I must be a drunkard, right? So I don’t have a beer with dinner, almost never, and it makes me FEEL LIKE AN ALCOHOLIC. Anything we do, we’re guilty. It’s like Kierkagaard (god bless him): “Laugh at the stupidities of the world, and you will regret it; weep over them, and you will also regret it. Laugh at the stupidities of the world or weep over them, you will regret it either way. Whether you laugh at the stupidities of the world or you weep over them, you will regret it either way.”

SM:  In your great new book of essays, Booby, Be Quiet! you wrote:

the present worships an outdated past, even at the cost of a living present.  And it thereby despises a large part of what was intentionally meant for the moment it lived, that which lost the great fencing match of noteworthiness … and became ‘nothing . . . All art which dares not step outside its present — outside the senses and paths of governing tastes — all art which intends to get positive reviews or a consent, all art which dares not change, malformed and get destroyed — all art afraid of failing, horribly even, afraid to be ridiculed — dares not own its own contradictions — is in my mind mostly a waste of time.  It reduces its own possibilities and serves art history more than art.  It … does not practice honesty towards itself but serves an idea of an imaginary taste of a set of imaginary people we call the audience, viewers, readers, lovers of poetry'” (from “The Metaphorical Crisis”).

For me, this touched on issues you raised elsewhere in the collection, and I especially like the comparisons drawn regarding the collapse of the Icelandic economy — it made me think of these two “economies”: the poetry economy versus the money economy.  In the poetry economy, it could be said, poets worship an outdated past, even at the cost of a living present.  And there will be poets who will disagree with this, experimental/avant poets who believe their work pushes a kind of “future” forward, but even the most avant poet right now probably feels (if they are willing to admit it) that certain poetries have become so institutionally-canted that there is a new audience/viewer/reader: the academic corporation.  And just as the collapses of the Icelandic economy and our own (in terms of the mortgage crisis: we were promised a golden future!) were based on corporation-created/driven ambition, I tend to feel the collapse of the poetry economy — where actual living human beings create poetry for other actual living human beings — is just this same thing.  Who are we writing for/to now?  Who is creating the work, and for what purpose?  Who is receiving it?  Where are the audiences?  Where is the enthusiasm for poetry among the poets themselves?  The golden future that is supposedly out there for poets consists of academic presses, academic jobs, if one’s work is institutionally canted.

EON:  The academic corporation as reader of academic poetry is sort of like the economy of pure service – where I make a living from selling you a coffee cup in the morning and spend my income on buying coffee at your café in the afternoon. It’s somehow both completely degenerate and Zen-like perfect, and I have the feeling that if anyone mentions this in full earnest (that society goes on without us, knows not of us and does not care) the whole thing will crumble. Personally I’m not interested in writing for an academia (nor am I interested in ‘condescending’ by ‘simplifying’ for a common audience, whom I refuse to see as inherently stupid). I’m interested in making holes in the world, to peer through.

I would like an audience, and I would like to help them peer through my holes. That being said maybe we need to start thinking of poetry not in terms of audience but purely in terms of an action, an act — almost like prayer — something for everyone, to be a part of everyone’s life. So instead of publishing poetry books poets could teach people poetry, or sumphin. If they need to make a living of it (because of course anything which belongs to everyone cannot be a living for anyone). And maybe we could still have poetry books, like we have books of mathematics and calculus and grammar — all of these things which we all have some sort of grasp on and use every day for ourselves, our joy and our betterment — for the academia. Although not me, I’d write for the general public because I want to be popular. 🙂

I don’t think poets are necessarily very enthusiastic about each others work — they may support it (‘buy his book, he’s a great guy’), but I rarely seeing anyone jumping for joy about somebody else’s poem. Every other Facebook-friend of mine is a foreign poet and the only poetry they ever share is their own (this mostly goes for me too). With the hostile takeover of triviality in popular media and popular art, perhaps poets have forgotten about fun, about charm, about joy, about attitude, about intensity, about popular iconoclasm, about naughty words, about the beautiful horniness — and driven anything that might attract an audience looking for something other than (supposed) supreme intelligence out of their poetry and into the waste basket of failed work, never to see the light of a backlit gadget screen (nevermind print or e-ink).

Labial Inaugural

12 Mar

Connie Deanovich & Sharon Mesmer

Reading on Wednesday, March 16, 2011

8:00 pm

The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church

131 E. 10th Street, New York

$8 / Students & Seniors $7 / Members $5 or Free