Skip to main content

HATING THE OTHER KIND OF POETRY

Originally published in Copper Nickel, this is a fascinating short article by Robert Archambeau about poetry wars and poetry politics: who is accepted and why. Well worth the short time it will take to read.
1. This is not a how-to guide
It isn’t quite a how-not-to guide either, but I suppose that’s closer.
2. “What you should be doing,” or: the limits of disinterest
A few years ago, when the Conceptualist poet Kenneth Goldsmith was making big waves in the little demitasse cup of the American poetry world, I wrote an essay that tried to explain what his work had to offer and what it didn’t. The email I received in response was gratifying in quantity, if bewildering in content. I’d tried merely to describe Goldsmith’s work, but I found I was condemned for having praised him, praised for having condemned him, praised for having praised him, and condemned for having condemned him—all in roughly equal measure. The uniform distribution of responses on the chart of praise and blame gave me some reassurance that my attempt at mere description hadn’t unintentionally become a clear act of advocacy or disapproval, but it also confirmed my suspicion that people were not particularly inclined to view as innocent an essay that did its best to remain neutral: an agenda, the thinking went, must lurk just below the surface. I am not so naïve as to believe that truly disinterested inquiry is possible, but the notion that we may approach disinterest asymptotically—like a curving line that comes ever closer to another line without ever touching it—was clearly alien to a literary audience that had been through several decades of the hermeneutics of suspicion. Only M, a critic from whom I had learned a great deal over the years, and who had always been kind to me, saw the essay for what it was, or tried to be—and she didn’t like it. “What you should be doing,” she told me, “is making a strong case for the poetry you believe in, and against the poetry you don’t.” She’d been doing exactly that for decades, and I knew people who revered her for it. I also knew people people who all but spat when they said her name. More.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Amy Holman

My mother made herself the deer with a broken leg  We saw a deer through the pane into someone else’s yard. The leg moved like a tube sock pinned to the hip  and half filled with sticks. I did not like to see it suffer, either. She was upset —my mother —that no one helped  the doe. Was it a mother, too? As if we were the first to observe the scene. We weren’t. All had been told to let her be. My mother had suffered a destruction  of the self, a divorce, and no one cared. That wasn’t true.  We were grown, on our own. I agree it was hard. Yet  in those moments of a cold November day, we watched  a doe, disabled and enduring, walk across a yard and eat  a hedge. I wish she could have seen it like that. Amy Holman is the author of the collection, Wrens Fly Through This Opened Window (Somondoco Press, 2010) and four chapbooks, including the prizewinning Wait for Me, I’m Gone (Dream Horse Press, 2005). Recent poems have been in or accepted by Blueline,

Beneath the Chickenshit Mormon Sun by Bruce Embree

I've posted this before, on a depressing day probably just like this one. This poem makes me feel better. That's all I have to say on that. It turned out worse than I thought The champion defended his title then Eldridge Cleaver came on to talk about his reasons for becoming a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Grandma and I damn near fell out of our chairs Went to town and got crazy drunk Came back home, called you long-distance after cruising and drooling Mainstreet again This is my last wish and love poem It is as follows Want to hold the wake at noon with plenty of acid and rum No friends and relatives Ghost music by Hendrix and the Byrds drowning all sound as you fuck me to dust beneath the chickenshit Mormon sun. Links:  http://www.limberlostpress.com/authors/161embree1.html

Bree

No Mote black swans i almost didnt see but for their glowy beaks red as sumac- they didnt match the dark tones of lake, stuck out like your lust for me while i read to the children all cloistered- who could hear me even from the colonnade, all hickory and hops-vine, where i saw you watch me from inside a white willow tree. mergansers with their heads trailing swam among dead stakes of lotus. that belted kingfisher bode us a good day, and returned the children to their cages below bald cypress knees so naked i had to look away. you willowed no longer, i took leaf to mean wing, and feather to mean ivy. i took a shaded path back to the armory. it got hot and thick and i could breathe more heavily, rapt on high, no mote of hope. Bree is a poet and visual artist living in Pleasureville, KY. Her Green Panda Press has put out hand-made chapbooks, anthologies and sundry of the very small art and poetry press since 2001. In 2015 she began Least Bittern Books out of Henry County, K