31 ago. 2007

There's an interesting fault-line between poets who see technique and craft as essential and those who get impatient with that. In Creeley's letter to Rothenberg on the deep he expresses a certain impatience with those who write off the engagement of the poet with the language itself. Creeley says it's not the time to do away with the technical innovations of O'Hara, Creeley himself, Williams, Ginsberg--at exactly the time when Bly was proposing to do just that.

A lot of poets who don't believe in engagement with language end up not going as far as they might have. At some point they come up against a set of serious limitations.

I think this fault-line is more significant than the avant/quietude one.

9 comentarios:

Emily Lloyd dijo...

Hear, hear. And, for me, a quietude poem/poet that interestingly engages with language can be more welcome than an avant one that does not, never mind my usual preferences. I think there has been a widespread assumption that avant poems by default "engage with language"--no, no, no they don't.

Robert dijo...

Interesting point. My theory is that it's the poets who've been most influenced by poetry in translation who tend to be impatient with craft in language.

Jordan dijo...

Interesting. I've found that in poetryland, craft is the last refuge of a scoundrel: a deliberately vague barrier to admission into one club or another, which usually comes down to either a restricted affect, aggressive use of internal rhyme and consonance, relative suppression or revelation of the subject, or a set of rules for narrative.

Jonathan dijo...

Good points. Is resistance to craft, though, also a refuge for scoundrels, so that any attitude toward craft is scoundrel-like? I'm thnking of Bly, for example.

Jordan dijo...

My quarrel is with pure assertions of superiority carrying unimpeachable slogans as shields. You can't argue with someone stuck on the magic word "craft," but neither can you have a conversation with someone peddling the enlightenment of going "beyond craft."

Apparently it is impossible to see writing as the activity of human beings and not robot subject positions.

Jonathan dijo...

I do hate the word craft--even more when used as sign of unimpeachable superiority. Yet I still find myself asking for the poet's stylistic bona fides. When Silliman in a poem wrote a line about "an intensely personal nervous breakdown" I saw that as a betrayal of a certain principle that he otherwise observed. That is, since nervous breakdowns are intense and personal by definition, I saw that as an unintentional pleonasm. But that's just me.

Jordan dijo...

The navel of the dream, and just when we were convinced it was real experience, and not organic either!

jeff dijo...

I'm late to this post, but want to inquire about the Creeley quote anyway. What's its source? I've been reading Creeley for decades, but must have missed that letter.

Jonathan dijo...

It's in Rothenberg's Pre-faces, New York: New Directions, 1981.