Friday, March 27, 2009

Lit Crime

The process of writing the last post, and thinking over Konrad’s responses to it, helped me to get clearer on what it is that has me looking for something other than formal innovation right now as a measure of the new. It’s just this: I don’t think change can come to poetry from within poetry, no matter how formally innovative or “anti-literary” its lineage. Poetry I think is kind of like the Eternals in Zardoz, waiting for Sean Connery to come and break the protective bubble so they can finally age and breathe. It’s ugly out there, but it’s also alive.

14 comments:

Drew said...

Don't you think Burt Reynolds should have been dressed like this in Deliverance?

This film is proof that not having the budget you want can result in poetry.

Do you know this TV on the Radio homage to Zardoz?

rodney k said...

Hi Drew,

"This film is proof that not having the budget you want can result in poetry."

That says it all.

Through the magic of Wikipedia, I now "know" that John Boorman got carte blanche to make "Zardoz" because he'd scored big with "Deliverance." And isn't that a James Dickey story/screenplay? So it all circles back to (or out of) poetry.

Hadn't seen that video, but almost wept as the head crawled across the NY skyline. Great concept.

rodney k said...

P.S. The Zardoz reference, and the chance to show the picture of Connery in this loin-thingy, makes this post sound way more macho than I intended. Bring on the Xenas ...

Drew said...

I see a man in hip high flare books, orange bikini, and a long braided pony tail. Yet it IS macho.

I guess we need a Lucy Lawless / Connery "loin thingy" poem from you now? I guess it should have a Battlestar Galactica reference?

Nada said...

Ah yes, I remember him well. Zardoz was quite the icon among the hippies of West Marin in the early 70s. (It's only now that I realized that's Sean Connery, though! Hotttt!) Also "Flesh Gordon," Zappa's 200 Motels, and communal stoned viewings of Star Trek.

More memoir material, I know, I know.

konrad said...

yeah, i'm with Drew: macho or crypto-transvestite?

anyway, hmmm. I thought what i was thinking about does involve innovation coming from outside poetry, esp. regarding the ELO stuff and games?

In addition to words, that work draws on software languages, coding techniques, visual culture and design, and music and iconic symbols. These are all extra-literary forces that are changing what it means to write.

Don't poets have the tools and skills to make "films" now? Or are they poem-films? Or film-poems? Or flash-poems? etc etc. Are they not just "poems"? No term suffices when the terms are in flux.

Maybe i don't understand the seriousness beneath the humor here, but it seems like i'm talking about innovation that occurs as new tools alter what we consider as writing (a collective kind of change), and you seem to be talking about changes that occur because new authorial modes (amazone, blogging, discussion lists, online zines) create new social relations and opportunities for strong voices to come along and lead poetry on.

I don't see why you would want to prefer one kind of change on over the other. Don't they both expose the tradition to revision and supplementation by outsiders?

rodney k said...

Hi Konrad,

This is a highly personal and provisional response, but I find myself less excited by formal innovation right now—whether perpetrated by coders, filmmakers, poet-filmmakers, video game designers, or straight-up poets—than by formats like the one this discussion is happening in.

The model of the formal experimenter moving the medium forward for a hepped audience is at least a century old (Dada, etc.). Whereas the conditions under which communication's happening here, with its demands (and constrictions) of compression, speed, humor, comment chains, and unselfconsciousness about form, feel (to me at least) like a window opened on a close party. At least for the moment, and speaking just for myself.

DUSIE said...

for one terrible second, I thought that was you!

konrad said...

But aren't those new modes of communication also a kind of "formal innovation?"

rodney k said...

Hi Susana,

I only wish that was true. Seriously. Braid notwithstanding.

Hi Konrad,

No, I don’t think so, not exactly. Or at least, to sweep what Kevin or the Seely respondents are doing on Amazon, or what we’re doing here on the Blogger template, under the skirts of the same word used for what, say, the ELO poets are up to would tend to erase a distinction I was hoping to bring into clearer focus.

At least it seems that way to me, in trying to account for the energies I’m responding to these days.

gabe said...

At the risk of jumping in on a conversation that is admittedly outside of my realm, and over my head, I have come across quite a bit of "twitter poetry" lately. One's bio even asks if you can "modify form poems to fit the Tweet limit?" Is this indicative of the working within the confines you're referring to?

Or is this the exact opposite of what you're talking about? Meaning they are actually trying to create, or recreate, what the common definition of "poetry" is. While this comment thread for most people wouldn't be seen as poetry in the classic sense, which is exactly your point.

Hope some of this rambling made sense, the post was incredibly intriguing to me, but unfortunately as of right now this is a subject I am still working my way through. Which probably shines through in this comment...

rodney k said...

Hi Gabe,

Glad you braved Sean Connery in a loincloth and left a comment!

I think your Twitter poetry example is fascinating. I'm with you in wondering if the writing done on Twitter already, without the special formatting markers to identify it as "poetry" (line breaks, stanza divisions, artful spacing, etc.), isn't itself a kind of poem. Or at least a fruitful material for poetry. In the same way that text message exchanges on their own aren't necessarily novels, but they've spawned the genre of the cell phone novel, which takes the cell phone's formatting features (screen size, abbreviations, short bursts of dialog) as the frame for the subjects (and subjectivities) the stories explore.

I'm still working through all this, too. Not sure I'm ready to call this comment stream a poem exactly, though it seems like it would take just a small adjustment to turn the language generated here (or on Twitter) into "content" for a literature already lousy with form.

Maybe I'm working toward a poetry that's willing to divide the labor: the unselfconscious, socially revealing, and tech-enabled exchanges of social networking provide the content; the poet brings the form, or maybe just the frame, that "sets" the work to poetry, like musicians set words.

Not exactly a "found poem," though maybe something like that. Maybe, first, a removal of the assumptions that still insist on the word "found" in front of "poem." Plus "found poetry" for me is a term that lays stress on the poet's remoteness from the material. Whereas here or on Twitter, we're all in the Play-Do together: pulling it, breaking it, rolling it into tiny balls and popping it in our mouths.

Drew said...

It's can be hard to find poetry in places you're suppose to find it, like poetry magazines. Because poetry is a thing that happens as the natural expression of an occasion and certain combination of elements like hail in sunlight. Finding FRONTING and MANNERISM in the place you're supposed to find poetry is bummer, but the point is those are NON-POETIC bummers. So WHERE you're looking for poetry when it doesn't just OVERTAKE you on a DVD or on the sidewalk is a good question. You could look at the ELEMENTS at play that seem to do activating it R, like maybe -- intelligibility / surprise, engagement a living vernacular as a OCCASION, POETIC NON-BUMMER or POETIC BUMMER -either way. SOMETHING / LIKE SOMEBODY'S LISTENING and CONSTRAINT (MANIFESTATION SHAPE) - and yr INTO IT

as far as twitter... Not Quite What I Was Planning is a good example. "3000 miles away from the truth" as life story. or maybe a Buddhist aspirational glam: "Next time, better parents, better hair" It happens with Post Secret too... you get the idea.

w/ Zardoz, free artistic license combines with an inadequate budget to make poetry - the inadequate just means constraint and it turns out to be not at all inadequate, it turns out to be a hole that the poetry manages to leak through...

Nada said...

We Did It Ourselves!
Presented by Guthrie Lonergan

Monday, April 6, 2009 at 7:30pm
220 36th Street, 5th Floor
Brooklyn, New York

"The success and failure (and illusion and depravity) of DIY in the era of Web 2.0 -- Little entries in The Big Database -- selections of new Internet art and Internet 'non-art' -- My Favorites! -- Something very real struggling beneath a heavy and ancient structure of corporate software defaults and cultural banality... What have we done? I will try very hard to offer insightful and enthusiastic annotation as I surf the net in public for you. I broke my laptop's keyboard but maybe I can borrow my girlfriend's. We will look at a vague Internet art movement (moment?) still growing -- critical of but subject to technology -- artists in relationship to The Big Database, collecting tiny home video thumbnails, or posting difficult metaphysical questions on Yahoo! Answers (a lot of Travis Hallenbeck and Joel Holmberg), etc. -- regular Internet users as artists -- artists using Google.com -- And with just-as-powerful pieces of online 'amateur content' -- an entire YouTube-based Fandom for fans of box-fans and washing machines, and 11 year-old kids sharing dull dreams as downloadable 3d models. A fully linked playlist will be released after the event... Please come!" - Guthrie