Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Monday, May 24, 2004

What Do All these Artists/Writers Have in Common?

What do all these Artists/Authors have in common?

Ezra Pound
Emile Nolde
Salvador Dali
FT Marinetti
Jean Cocteau

They were all Fascists.

What do all these Artists/Authors have in common?

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Neruda
Diego Rivera
Frida Kahlo

They were all Communists.

I once read an essay by Marjorie Perloff where she posited why is Pound rejected
for being a Fascist but Neruda won the Nobel even though he was a supporter of Stalin? It is important I believe to ask the question are the Arts better because their are so few innovative Right Wing voices?

If you access any poetry website or listserv you will find positions that are as leftish as possible not that anyone on these lists or in these groups really believes this stuff it is part of the clothing of being an intellectual. This is not to say that people are not passionate about certain things, women's issues, race issues and more but there is a knee jerk reaction that all that is right is bad all that is left, even Stalin is good.

It is important I think that we separate people's ideas from their art. Should we blame Neruda or Picasso for Stalin's purges or the Gulag? Of course not and we should not blame Pound or Dali for their Fascist positions. I wonder what Frida Kahlo would really think of Madonna? We need to condemn hate.

I think however that it is time to ask where is the sanity in all of this? When you have Mother Jones, the Pope, Joschka Fischer and Jacque Chirac agreeing on an issue like the war you have to ask what do these guys know that we do not? It is not an issue of right or left it is an issue of real answers to real questions. Maybe it is time to ask what is universal?

There have been right wingers and left wingers who have been correct at different times. Churchill was right about Hitler and wrong about India, Gandhi was wrong about Hitler and right about India. I think that this is the issue. I see so many people who want to sit in their own echo chamber, and be reinforced and perhaps what we need is to get a Dana Gioia and Charles Bernstein in a room and let them duke it out/ maybe something good would come out?

Maybe we would learn something?

Monday, May 17, 2004

A Spiral of Death in Iraq

Spain is a medium sized country that completed its youth 500 years ago by
expelling the jews and moors (1492)
enslaving and destroying the Americas (1492-1825) and exporting those riches
to Europe wherein all of European "progress'was financed by the booty.Please
do not try to say Europe has Moral Superiority, it does not; a generation
ago Europe killed the jews, ruled colonial empires, slaughtered people in
Russia for thinking and more. I would put all the horrors that Americans
have committed, and there are many up against all the horrors of Europe who
has done worse? We are all benefiting from exploitation.

Europeans on the whole despise their muslim populations, Romano Prodi,
president of Europe only the other day said that the entrance of Eastern
European nations would rebalance Europe as a continent out of the Christian
tradition. Until very recently a 'german'from Brazil could get a German
passport because of blood while a Turk who lived in Germany for 40 years
could not. Go to the suburbs of Paris or Rome or Berlin and ask those Muslim
populations if they are treated well? I venture to guess that my Pakistani
neighbors here in Chicago are treated much better and are less harrassed
even today.

Europe and the US are part of the same world-wide exploitive system. Who do
you think finances all those 30 day vacations and 'free' socialized
medicine? Exploitation is not just an American problem. Americans exploit
Latin Americans and Europeans Exploit Africans and others this is the reason
we are rich and the rest of the world is poor. Europe has not moral
superiority the Europeans did not invade Iraq because it was not in their
interests to do so it had nothing to do with Morality.

I also must say that while did not agree with Bush on Iraq we have to admit
that we are in war right now to decide what kind of world-view will
succeed. While I totally reject Bush's means I do not believe that the
Islamic Fundamentalism represented by Saudi Arabia, Bin Laden and the rest
is preferable to western democracy. With all its problems would anyone trade
our current flawed system for Saudi Arabia's

We are engaged in a spiral of death, beheadings, abuse of prisoners,
violence, murder, what we need is not screaming or yelling but quiet,
prophetic responses to all this violence. We need a Ghandi, or Saladin or St
Francis someone who can see through all of this and remove the moral
authority from those who have chosen the road of death. the answer to all
this pain and death is to realize that we cannot go on as a world where
Americans, Europeans and Japanese live like kings while the rest of the
world gets only crumbs. But someone needs to challenge all of this in a non
violent way because September 11th is just the beginning of the pain that
this death spiral is causing.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Of late I have been receiving allot of Poetic Profiles for the website I animate; the think that moves me is how so many poets are centered in their artform but how that centeredness rests right on the knifeedge between the self absorbed and the profound. It reminds me a little of the medieval saints. What made the difference between a Francis and a Savonarola? it was this self centeredness versus an openness to life. I find that many today are like Savonarola, they are not in dialogue they are in monologue and I think that in the end I would rather be like Francis, in dialogue. Simplicity is key I think for poets, and I also think asceticism is essential. It is hard to become a saint when life is comfortable as it is hard to become a great poet if life is comfortable. It is in the hard edges that poetry comes out and changes things as we are an internal artform.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Selfishness and Success

Poets- unlike others need to move beyond their genetic introversion and build community. Some of this is done by blogs and webservs but Blogs, have become a way for poets to have their own echo chamber and not to listen to others. The key to poetry is community, dialogue and innovation.

Of late I have been thinking about the various writers I know and wondering is there a Pound or Williams or HD among them? One of the things that fills me with dread and regret is the lack of generosity among Poets; poets on the whole do not believe that there is plenty of room for everyone, hence if you succeed naturally another poet must be pushed out. I totally reject this notion and I think what is keeping poetry and much serious art from being taken seriously by many more people is this clubby attitude this idea that if I share light and heat with another it will hurt me. Push open the windows and let the light in it wont hurt.

In the literary past it is in great literary friendships that the best writing comes forth to us. Just a short list, Pound/Eliot, Pound/Joyce, Williams/Olson, Williams/Zukofsky, HD/Pound, Nin/Miller, Neruda/Lorca, Creeley/Olsen, or your could go back to Augustine and St Jerome and more and more. I think that what poets in particular should be doing is networking but in a generous way.

The bottom line is that there are 200-300 serious poets in the USA and why should we not be a choir rather than 300 soloists? I think that the Poets Against the War people have done a good job of making poetry 'relevant' but it needs to be made more relevant by showing people what matters. Poetry is news that remains news as our dear Ezra told us and that is what is true is the best sense of that word.

I have found that the larger the literary community the more petty it can be, New York is the worst because there are so many poets and so much to play for it is also the nature of that city. SF is about the same except the people are nicer. In the second tier cities; Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, Philly, people are more open but the moment someone from New York or San Francisco arrives the 'poets dance' begins and people position themselves for advantage. I think that key to all of this is to remember what is important. No one will every make money as a poet, hell Christian Wiman makes $50,000 a year editing Poetry Magazine, that is less than many secretaries make, but we as poets can have an impact, more like the ripples made by a pebble than the big splash of fiction and Journalism. We need to continue to critique life as poets.

And just when I reach the darkness of despair I am reminded of people whose generosity have been fresh water flowing across my dryness, Sina Queyras, Brian Clements, Joe Ahearn, Mark Tardi, Peter Gizzi, Kerri Sonnenberg, Jesse Seldess, William Allegrezza, Pierre Joris, Catherine Daly and many others who are generous and remember that poetry is not just a solitary work but a communal one. In the end what are we doing? Is poetry masturbation? Or is it the chorus in the Greek tragedy we dwell within? As Paulo Leminski said, ' if you want to be a poet, be a poet'.

I choose poetry because it is clean I am reading Clayton Eshelman's book on Lascaux right now apart from being a real vice on the brain he brings something forth, poetry, the oldest artform colors all the
others it makes the others alive and brings us on a journey to listen to what words andl language tell us that we are not alone.