Postmodern Collage Poetry

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

Thursday, March 30, 2006

So Little to Fight Over

recently I have had the chance to write prose which is very much like having a lover who is not your wife when you are a poet....

**************Baseball season starts Sunday I know this is true because all my conversations with Mark Tardi end with the following phrase "World Champions"

Catherine Daly is coming back to the Midwest she has got to be one of the most glamourous poets I think that it is the LA thing no body is glamourous in Chicago we have too much blood under our fingernails...

I have been getting up early like 4 AM to write... the cats are confused

It is one year since Robert Creeley died I miss his presence and miss that there will be no more books well at least Peter Gizzi is alive....

My grandmother had to go into a nursing home she is 92 there has been allot of familial sadness about this she is quite a figure when other people were hiding in rootcellars or collaborating with the Nazis she was running a business, alone as a young woman, negotiating the vaguries of Fascist Italy, enduring bombings and deportations feeding deserters from the army hiding in the alps, helping American and British flyers to escape all while having SS soldiers sleeping in her hotel...

Been reading allot lately just finished Liz Willis' new book, rush out and buy it she is really something.

Saw Mark Tardi last night, I like the fact that I dont have to explain anything to Mark and that we share the same manias... his only fault is that he is a South Side Cubs fan which is kind of like being a dog with gills...

I am tired of Chicago maybe I will move to Des Moines :) or Dallas somewhere without loudness..

read in Gary last week at Bill Allegrezza's IUNW really engaging people met a couple of nice younger poets

" Paulo Leminski Poem"

let me vanish
let me melt
let me fall apart
after me
after us
after all
nothing but charm
is left

-Paulo Leminski translated by Regina Alfarano and Robert Creeley (C) Green Integer

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Innovative Poetry

recently on another blog someone commented that I was ranting, incoherently for a poetry that is innovative and challenging. So I thought I ought to say what I mean....

Main Stream Poetry? Like Watching Paint Dry.

Reading Poets like Jorie Graham, Tony Hoagland, Ed Hirsch, Mary Oliver, Ted Kooser, Billy Collins, Tim Siebles, Kay Ryan, Franz Wright and many others who fall into the river of mainstream contemporary poetry their work is often uninteresting with the taste of wallpaper paste for the following reasons;

1) the subject matter is often a bore and is based in either personal experience, humor or some other sort of post confessional mode. No one really cares about how these poets work out their manias and need for therapy and their work is like watching paint dry.

2) The writing itself is simplistic and does not challenge us as readers to expand our minds and our need to grow as an audience. All one has to do is read one of these poets or their kin and then read work by interesting poets like Robert Creeley or Charles Bernstein to figure out that there is allot of drivel being excreted by our mainstream friends.

3) Allot of mainstream poetry pretends to be deep and emotive when really it is an occasion to celebrate some banality be it Child birth or environmental destruction or alike but to sew it up in a nice poetic package.

Experimental Poetry drifts toward Banality

It is normal for experimental poets to make fun of the more mainstream among us and to act as if because they are following in the traditions of Stein or Pound or Howe or Bernstein their work is somehow more interesting as less banal and many times it is but sometimes it is formulaic.

In point of fact allot of PostModern, Post Avant writing is unreadable but at least it is interesting!

Picasso asserted that one must be able to create the art before one can abstract from it. Many Experimental poets have simply passed over literary formation to get some books out and get that MFA and model themselves on some poetic mentor without really thinking about their own formation. It is impossible to be a great and innovative poet if you are not a deep reader.

Experimental poets who are deep readers are not the norm.

Poets like Peter Gizzi or Lisa Jarnot are rare gems in an ocean of less than well read who frankly get published because they were in he right place (Add MFA program here) at the right time (In their 20's when they are attractive to former professors). Or know someone who will publish them.

The experimental writers that I think are truly innovative you will find a few things that they all have in common.

1) they are a little older and to use Peter Gizzi as an example they have lived full lives apart from their poetic lives. they have rich formations the way Creeley and Duncan had rich formations in activism. Look at the poets for whom this is true, Gizzi, Creeley, Bernstein, Stein,
Williams, Jarnot, and on an on.

2) They have read allot and they are well informed.

I think of poets like Jen Hofer, Catherine Daly or Peter O'Leary, or John Tipton or translators like Chris Daniels or others who are not just writing for poetry-land but are truly writing poetry that is innovative and has some depth be it Hofer's interest in Latin America or Daly's use of mystical texts or O'Leary use of medieval and post modernists or Tipton's use of measured experimentation.

3) How many times have you sat at the reading and listened to a 27 year old poet, writing about some sort of obscure idea or artform and after a while you realize that they know very little about anything?

Think about how refreshing it is to read a book of poetry that is obviously well thought out?

I realize that many people in Poetry Land are sensitive souls and that I am a bull in a china shop and tha even mild critique is viewed as mean spirited.

This commentary is not personal, it is business.

I am weary of sitting and listening to work that has not been thought through and puts on the costume of experimental while really being someone's therapy or someone's gimmick.

We all know the mainstream stuff is mostly boring crap but we have a right to expect more from those who call themselves experimental and dare to carry that mantel.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


recently while at AWP and now back home I have come to ask a few questions of myself and to wonder what poetry means in a world of blinking lights and weblogs?

I have been spending allot of my time with translations and poems that are not my own. I recently completed a translated Brazil section for Aufgabe where I got to see how great translators like Chris Daniels, Charles Perrone, Odile Cisneros and Idra Novey do it and place my translations next to theirs, I am pleased that I can at least be a utility infielder to this murder's row of translators.

I have also been working on a presentation on Epic and Creation in American (Not United Statesian) poetry. For the &Now Conference. The thing that I cannot keep from thinking is that so many of us poets including me are ignorant of so much. I read neruda or leminski and I see a breadth that none of my poetic comrades has and I wonder what are we missing?

Reading Brazilian poets one cannot but feel a sympatico.

Unlike European poets or Spanish language American writing Brazilians are almost as insular as Americans in English and the fact that no reads their books either is comforting. having said this there are more Brazilian poetry sites on the web than American sites and this makes for an interesting contrast.

I was always satiated by the romance of latin american poetry. there are so many romantic notions in latin american poetry, it is the sweep of the culture I think the Inkas the Aztecs the Conquistadors San Martin and Bolivar the artists, Rivera, Kahlo the poets, Neruda, Vallejo and Dario but Brazil was always other and when I first encountered their writing and their poetry I knew it was home... kind of the way an American feels in Japan at a baseball game it is familiar and yet different and comforting.

I guess allot of this is personal too. been going through allot of Family things of late with my Nonna who is 92 years old, she speaks mostly italian dialect now and she has retreated into life in the 1920s and 30s and our region's unique dialect is as much french as italian and is a kind of fusion and spending much time speaking dialect
(correctly called gallo-italiano) I find myself in touch with a linguistic root that is as deep as possible and wonder how I can fuse this into my poetry?

I have started to collect gallo italian words and they make for interesting tongue play...

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Poetry AWP and a Small Press Europe Central

Next week I am going to AWP with Bill Allegrezza my partner in Cracked Slab Books to launch our first title Edging by Michelle Noteboom. This is such an interesting book and I hope that
people will like it? It is a compelling work and I normally do not like Body oriented poetry as I am uncomfortable with these things but this book is really interesting. AWP is an interesting gathering on so many levels while it is a literary event it really feels more like a tradeshow.

Most of the room is angling to get something out of someone and those who go into the week thinking otherwise are deluding themselves. The part I like the best is the book fair and seeing old friends. When AWP was in Chicago two years ago I was able to get a publisher for my book-- a great day.

Recently on the we have been discussing "Experimental poetry" in Chicago which sounds like a mid 1970's play don't you think? I have to say that when you list out the poets writing here who are of interest it is quite a grouping. I also think that it is impressive because of the fact that there are few institutions here to support a community. Having said this I think that sometimes poets delude themselves into thinking what they are doing really has an impact. I find that American poets are so profoundly Whitmanesque. " I celebrate and sing myself" that they have a hard time moving beyond their own worlds.

I have been reading the novel Europe Central which I have found totally engrossing. I am on page 50 and we have already spent time with Kathe Kollwitz and Anna Akhmatova. I find this book engrossing because of the fact that he weaves history and poetry together to create a really interesting narrative. This is something I find missing in American poetry. I look at poetry in other languages or at other times and there is a sense of mission and transcendence that is not in existance today- and then I remember that there are some poets working this way-

I absolutely loved Garin Cycholl's new book along with Chris Glomski's Eleni Sikeliano's California poem was excellent as well so maybe I am wrong to yearn for big history in poems?