Postmodern Collage Poetry

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Banal Poetry Anthologies Challenging Poets

Early this morning before I had to get to work I went down to the Seminary Co-op one of Chicago's true cultural gems and picked up a couple more books for my trip. Picked up the last book by Viktor Szchlovsky (sic) and a copy of a book of Catalan mystical writing from the 1260's .

These types of books are only to be found at Seminary Co-op I just finished a book on the Egyptian Desert fathers which was great in its obscurity and the fact that these academic books are challenging in a way that most of life is not. challenging for the brain.

As I was looking through their fine poetry section I noticed an anthology of " new innovative poets and poetry" .

I opened the book to find none of the innovative poets I know- no Kerri Sonnenberg, no Chris Murray, no Catherine Daly, no Jen Hofer, no Jesse Seldess, no Brian Clements, no Mark Tardi, no Chris Stroffolino and the list goes on and on who was not included; while the list of who was included was filled with poets whom are good at sending their work to awards though and playing poetical political games a field of mediocre pablum nothing innovative about the poetry just the same vanilla with strawberry mildness.

The problem with our artform is that too many mediocre poets are held as the latest thing not because the writing is great but because they fit a profile, or play politics well and can impress the poetic Gods.

I have yet to see a magazine that takes the myriad of poetry books published each year and says this is crap, this is interesting. I have yet to see a poetry magazine or press say boy his work has declined from his first book .

Or a poetry magazine that publishes an interesting poet who might be politically incorrect- maybe a Devout Christian? or a Devout Muslim or God Forbid a business person.(Sorry William Fuller).

Real diversity means publishing more than people we are comfortable with we need to be uncomfortable too. I would love to see an anthology of poetry from the Taliban to just to see what they are thinking.

Another challenge with our artform is the fact that we as poets are not in dialogue with the greater world of art and life the way we should be poets are self absorbed and mentally masturbatory. Sometimes sex is better with another person-

Robert Creeley when he was at Black Mountain was in dialogue with John Cage and Willem De Kooning who are poets in dialogue with today mostly other poets? Which artists or others do we dialogue with and does that dialogue illuminate ?

Instead poetry presses publish our friends and our friends publish us. Poetry is the only artform where other artists, in this case poets, decide who succeeds and who fails. There is little outside review and this is a problem for the artform. We need as an artform to begin to ask if we are only going to write for each other then what is the point?

What I think needs to happen is that poets need to seek out others to be crosspolinated with regularly. Poets need to be in dialogue outside the academy. While I sometimes find Ron Silliman's Blog self serving I also like the fact that Ron is a public intellectual and not a professor. The fact that Ron lives in Paoli, PA and not in some fauxhemian neighborhood is also refreshing and rare.

The other night on Charlie Rose (now I am being the stereotype) all the National Book Award nominees for fiction were on and all were New Yorkers, White Women and they all went to the same schools. I cannot believe that there was not one Midwesterner or Southerner who wrote a work of fiction of note? Lack of diversity lack of trying to be diverse leads to a truncated literature.

Where are today's Nelson Algren's where stories and poetry are bubbling up from the streets? Sure there is the whole slam hip hop world but most ' experimental poets' are not in dialogue with those folks maybe we should be.

Last year at AWP I got to meet three poets whom I have admired for many years and these three lived up to their marketing.

Peter Gizzi, here is my nominee for poet of today his work is so stimulating and interesting and intellectual at the same time not contrived,
Jen Hofer who also lived up to her marketing and is just a real punch in the face with her work and life.
Catherine Daly who has below here midwestern corn fed look an inferno of poetry that I enjoy, read her book from Salt (forget the name now) and then go read Meister Eckhart you will feel like be bending spoons with your mind.

So now I pack my books and leave cold Chicago for warm Brazil and look forward to two weeks of mold, beef, coffee and heat- pure pleasure will poetry survive for two weeks without me contributing to the Buffalo List?

Oh the world might end because what i have to say is sooo important.