2 nov. 2005

Maybe that's the difference too between two different cultural approaches to poetry. One is oriented toward a sort of workshop consensus model, where tactics are discussed in detail but strategy is left unntouched. After all, the workshop can only work if there is some broad agreement first about what is acceptable and what is not. There have to be unarticulated "givens." Maybe even articulated givens.

The other is oriented toward "poetics," the idea that each poem must be judged in relation to an overarching aesthetic project. It's not a question of correcting a line-break here or there, questioning an image or line. A lot of us don't really think like that. It seems almost amateurish, though curiously it is the mark of a certain kind of "professionalism" in some quarters.

I assume I have enough poetic "technique" to do what I want to do, within my limits. That is, I assume I don't have to sign up for the line-break seminar, the simile refresher course. If I fail, it will be because my aesthetic vision fails to be convincing enough to that particular reader making the judgment. It will be a failure of connection, on the phatic level almost, not a deficient command of poetic technique. I could improve on technique or craft too, I'm sure. I'm no Ronald Johnson. But I don't see the workshop culture as producing Ronald Johnson-style technique either. That is, poems that have been workshopped to death still don't seem technically masterful to me in any way I'm at all interested in, even if they don't have obvious flaws. They just seem "beige" to me, to quote Gary Sullivan earlier today.

I'm not even sure I want to be Lorine Niedecker or Ronald Johnson. Even if I had the choice to write as well in that style as they do, that's not the model I would be interested in pursuing either. I'm using them as shorthand for a certain pared-down, technically adept poetics derived from objectivism. I lack that sort of talent, obviously, but that's not what I was meant to write anyway.

2 comentarios:

Laura Carter dijo...

I agree with you. There are lots of unwritten workshop assumptions---books on it by now---and I used to keep lists of them when I felt like my poems were being graded or assessed based on them (some of them are actually useful, but rarely explained in terms of historical precedent). It would almost be better to hear: "That sucks." Or "why are you holding back?" Or even "your poem sounds too much like mine!"

Yes, Niedecker & Johnson turn in a good bit. I love Niedecker's longer poems, but some I find hard to breathe in. Sometimes I think I like ARK better for the idea of it than the language, at least if I'm being a selfish reader. It has its moments.

Ange M dijo...

There has to be some agenda behind Kasey's viewpoint; I feel it echoed in Josh's response to Bahr, too. There is a framework for understanding poetry among the avant-academics I definitely need some help with. And it makes me feel downright old-fashioned.