What the hell is the Prairie Rennaissance?
In postmodern times people tend to shy away from movements from groups and from names that are pejorative or limiting. Black Mountain, The New York School, the Vorticists, Futurists- and on and on are engrained in our collective poetic memories. Say the word Language Poets and everyone who loves poetry knows exactly what is being said and spoken about. But today people want to be careful not to be seen as part of a group, or a movement but sometimes these things happen without consent of the group and this has happened in the Midwest.
I had the fortunate timing to return to Chicago and the Midwest in March of 2003 and in the process to see that something is happening in our part of the world. Poetry-that most snobby and etherial of the literary arts in which a mediocre New York poet with the right connections can get published profusely-because of whom she knows ; while a fine, fine poet will be virtually ignored for many years because they are not known was changing.
Poetry because of the internet and because of the fact that creative people need not be in New York or San Francisco to have an impact has changed and one of the fruits of this change is something we are experiencing now, The Prairie Rennaissance. There are other places as well that are having their own rebirths, Texas, and Los Angeles come to mind.
A community of poets, sitting in the middle of the country getting published and dialoging all with their own interests and agendas but also in dialogue has arisen in our part of the country and if people in other places are missing it they should see what is happening in the past year or so new books have come out from
Kerri Sonnenberg, Stacy Szymaszek, Roberto Harrison, John Tipton, Ray Bianchi, Mark Tardi, Chuck Stebelton, Laura Sims (She won the very NEW YORK FENCE ALBERTA PRIZE), William Allegrezza, Jesse Seldess, Peter O'Leary, Dan Beachy-Quick, Arielle Greenberg, Garin Cycholl, David Pavlich, Joel Craig, John Beer, Daniel Borzutsky, Kristy Odelius and Simone Muench.
All of these books came from the unique formation of the poets who wrote them but also all of these books came out of a group of poets who are in dialogue and who live between Chicago, Madison and Milwaukee and the greater Midwest, the Prairie.
There are also other poets who are older but who are working in our region as well including Mark Nowak, Cole Swenson, Steve Tomasulla, Joe Amato, William Fuller who also are in dialogue and this great mash this great mixing is creating new and innovative poetry where it did not exist before.
Chicago and Milwaukee, reading series like the Discrete Series, Danny's Series, and Chicago Poetry Project, Woodland Pattern Bookstore in Milwaukee new presses like Flood Editions and great magazines like Conundrum, Antennae, Near South, Chicago Review and many others have made the Prairie fertile ground for a new poetics. The website that I animate, Chicagopostmodernpoetry.com consistantly has over 3800 unique visits and over 100,000 hits a month which is amazing for site focused on our small poetic part of the world.
It is interesting because over the past six months many members of our community have read in San Francisco and New York, the Mecca and Medina of the poetic world and so many poets commented on not expecting innovation from our part of the country! But the dialogue that is happening is leading to new ways
with poets like Stacy Szymaszek taking Olson and French Poetry and the Sea and creating something totally new, a poet like Mark Tardi who has fused math and music into a new sense of verse, John Tipton who takes an Eliotonian sense of order and turns it on its head to creat something new, or a poet like Simone Muench who while being firmly in the mainstream innovates on the edges to make a poetry that is new and fresh.
In the end the Prairie Rennaisance is real- it is new and it is building a new sense and innovative poetics not bound by traditional lines- a poetry that fuses traditional, experimental and innovative into something new.
Poets who feel free to smash the divisions, Experimental, Neo Formalist, Mainstream and to make something new again. Many may wince at the idea of a new collection of poets but in a sense we are an island in the middle of the sea of the US and that island has been recognized for what it is; something new.
A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry
Monday, March 21, 2005
What the hell is the Prairie Rennaissance?