Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Too Much of Language Poetry Is A Disguise

. . .for bad writing


Blogger poetzie said...

It's interesting because I think in a lot of ways, they would agree with you and probably thank you for such a comment. The "disguise," however, is (if the poetry truly has the political message backed by Language Poetry)constructed in order to re-define what poetry IS. LP is struggling so hard against the traditional lyric voice which most of feel so comfortable speaking out of (myself included!) and which all of us have come to know, over the years, as "good poetry".

And, yes, a lot of it is crap. I am constantly disappointed by FENCE magazine because it turns out poetry that asserts to be fresh and interesting but really is a kind of nonsensical, self-riteous series of word games and is very little craft. A lot of the first book prizes are going to books like this, and though some of them are quite good (I love Sabrina Orah Mark's The Babies very much! http://www.saturnaliabooks.com/html/babies.html) a lot of them play the same games over and over again and don't really have meaning-- they only have language. At the same time, a lot of really boring books are winning the more traditional prizes, like the Yale prize, poems that have already been written hundreds of times and even in the same way. I vote for a balance, mostly because I have to believe that there needs to be room for CRAFT in poetry, regardless of the political statement. And, like I say in my own blog, I'm not ready to give up on beauty.

12/7/05 07:32  
Blogger Tony said...

Richard Siken's "Crush" won the Yale prize and it's an amazing book.

12/7/05 12:10  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

Siken is writing poetry—why call it "language poetry" with or without the "equals".

I also happen to think that Ron Silliman is writing some of the most significant *poetry* in America today (along with Miles, Hejinnian, S. Howe; and what about Nate Mackey? Why don't any of the pomo lodos write about Mackey?) and it gives me no end of personal pleasure to have had the opportunity to sit on a panel & award him money for it. (hey, solution to foetry is put me, Boy Emo, in the judges seat)

"Too much. . ." I say, fooey to the taxidermist; and that we shouldn't be shooting poetry in the mouth just to kill and stuff our muses.

poetzie - more soon (what fun to find you!) ~PoetDee

p.s. thinking or writing a lot about screwing has never made one a better lover

as gramma always said: the proof is in the pudding

12/7/05 15:10  
Blogger Lorna Dee Cervantes said...

What this means is that it's too much like eatin' mackeral, I might like it but there's too many bones for the work of the meat—who can even taste it? (re: fence) Especially when there's so much wild, line caught Copper River salmon sweetening the menu, something you can really sink your teeth into, as opposed to the carcinogenic farmed variety; and I think this is the point (farming) that shouldn't be lost or someone's going sit on it, maybe even Poetry.

Good points revealed in the blog, Burning Patience about Proletariat poetry (Ron's true 'tradition') a vein that runs deep in the Americas. Heck, what they call language poetry today is not much different from Ruben Dario's Blue or many other indigenous poets of the Americas (even before Vallejo) which predates the modernist tail by a couple centuries.

12/7/05 15:22  
Blogger poetzie said...

Lorna- What you say about much of what is being called Language Poetry not being true to its roots is right on- I remember an interview I conducted with Cole Swensen for Sniper Logic lit mag and she was absolutely adimant about that fact that she is not a LP because she doesn't prescribe to the political beliefs which they so strongly hold (like the manifesto written by Hejinian et al in the early 70s ish time). Yet everywhere you look, Cole is lumped into the LP group with poets like Rosemarie Waldrop and Leslie Scalapino who do have very significant political motivations behind their poetry. Just becuase a poem does not have a clear linear narrative does not mean it's a LP, though all poets who write this way tend to be "typecast". It's a shame. But definitely interesting to think about.

And I am waiting for FENCE to change my mind. I think I have like a 3 year subscription.

13/7/05 08:02  

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