Friday, April 24, 2009

A Hole That the Poetry Manages to Leak Through

For a long time now, seems like I’ve been looking for the poetic in all the wrong places: Zardoz, blog wars, movietelling, Amazon reviews—almost anywhere that doesn’t label itself as “experimental” or “poetry.” In response to Gabe’s question about Twitter poems, Drew Gardner left a comment that gives me a better handle on why:
“It can be hard to find poetry in places you’re supposed to find it, like poetry magazines. Because poetry is a thing that happens as the natural expression of an occasion and certain combinations of elements like hail in sunlight. Finding FRONTING and MANNERISM in the place you’re supposed to find poetry is a 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 be activating it, like maybe -- intelligibility / surprise, engagement with a living vernacular as an OCCASION, POETIC NON-BUMMER or POETIC BUMMER -- either way. SOMETHING / LIKE SOMEBODY’S LISTENING and CONSTRAINT (MANIFESTATION SHAPE) -- and yr INTO IT.

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....”
If that’s not an up-to-the-tweet defense of poesy, sign me up as key grip on the Zardoz remake.


Nada Gordon: 2 ludic 4 U said...

Yeah. This from my Mayer thesis (1986):

"The literary canon grants us a wall of solid objects so mighty and musty we sometimes forget that the works contained therein are records of just such negotiations between real people and real life / historical situations, fixed and removed though these objects seem. Canon-space is, of course, limited -- who knows what works have passed through the alimentary canal of history? -- and so the canon excludes. My (admittedly naive) hope is that one day the canon will be so inclusive that it won't exist as such anymore, so that all verbal messages might be considered objects of literary study -- really, the study of meaning itself."

Phanero Noemikon said...

I cannot agree with this enough,
and this is kind of touched on in things like Arte Povera, except that there is a switch in that, and what i mean is, once the art is art it sort of ceases to be art.

So in effect what you might be talking about is a combination of vernacular for vernacular's sake used as a vehicle for 'affect harvesting'.. I use google image search for this all the time. What I really like is to make some very literary sounding material which seems really bad or poor, but then match that with a picture, and harvest the frisson from that. It's hit and miss, but but complexifying the archive with responses, there might be further levels of association back into both the virnacular and litertiary.

These are my new terms for these transitional or hybrid sites of production.

virnacular is the virality of the vernacular, and litertiary
represents a form of literature
which is not focused on the actual product, but the production of the remainder as a socially non-linear
event-process, something akin the now dull 'relational aesthetics'
I suppose. It's good ground.

And Nada's comments are very cool,
especially in light of Verdi's? joke in one of his works where he points to the linguistic closeness of Ab domine and abdomen, or somesuch. And then also the finality of semiosis itself, paradoxically

a terminus that is itself
primality in disguise, or
in terms of myth

disguised as a monster

for instance

konrad said...

i must comment bc of the utterly Drewian poetry of my circumstantial word verification correlation with the alimentary canal metaphor in Nada's comment:


Is it a "lax sense of aesthetics?"

rodney k said...

Hi Lanny,

I like your "affect harvesting," partly for its sinister implications. The aim I think of a practice like that is to slip feeling past the usual "social filters" (another useful Drew term) that deflect response into predicted channels. Which works best maybe--is genuine, and not just a strategy--when feeling came to you that way in the first place.

"Nuissance" is extraordinary, and the Tales of Hoffman clip--wowza.

Unknown said...

Do you think a lay person like myself could understand this better by replacing the word "poetry" with "poetic?"

For whatever reason there seems to be a certain stigma attached with the word poetry, while people seemingly use the word poetic with a sense of freedom.

By looking for that which is poetic in the things described in this and other posts, maybe we will begin to see the poetry.

My two cents, kinda feel like I'm on the Freshman team trying to play with the Varsity...

rodney k said...

Hi Gabe,

If this is Varsity, I’d hate to see the JV squad. ☺ Glad you weighed in.

I’m with you that “poetry” drags a lot of cultural freight in its train, while “poetic’s” gone feather-light and attaches itself to movies, basketball players, or flower arrangements without anyone batting an eye. It reminds me a little of Robert Musil’s bit about a “racehorse of genius” in The Man Without Qualities, where our (anti-)hero, who’s blown his youth striving to be a genius, reads a newspaper article where the word gets applied in the sports section to a thoroughbred. Maybe the Austrian modernist equivalent of our habit of calling power forwards “poetry in motion.”

What do you think the reasons are for the stigma attached to “poetry”? It’s said to be unpopular because of its difficulty. Maybe it has as much to do though with the way poetry habitually gets walled off from everyday life, a sacred space where you can dump all your sincere (and often not particularly difficult) feelings about the war, the miracle of parenthood, or your grandmother’s shingles in a way that's not permitted in “real life,” where we’re told in ways big and small that nobody much cares.

On the other side, I wonder what it is “poetic” does to avoid the bad odor of “poetry.” Is it the promise of poetry—elevated feelings, a sense of heightened meaning, the compulsion of a significant sigh at the end—without the time investment in all those bothersome words? (I don’t mean to say this is what poetry is, but what I think people who prefer “poetic” to “poetry” may mean when they call something that’s not poetry “poetic.”)

Oddly, I find myself more baffled by poetry’s popularity than its neglect. The other night a self-identified slam poet read on the radio to a theater audience. The hollers and whistles at the end, for work that seemed to me to be performing the gestures normally expected of poetry without being especially poetic, utterly baffled me. I don't expect anyone to react to poetry that way, and somehow couldn't believe they were applauding for the poetry, but for themselves: for their surprise at not hating the thing they expected to giggle at or dislike. How paranoid is that?

Unknown said...

I think you have outlined it exactly. People like the idea of poetry, hence the reason poetic gets free rain.

Honestly, I would put the blame for poetry getting a bad wrap on our educational system. I am a college graduate, and outside of my own personal attempts at reading poetry, I was never exposed to it in 16 years of schooling.

So now when I sit down and actually try to read it, it inevitably leads to frustration, because I don't have that basic understanding of the form and craft that should rightfully come with a basic education. Discussions such as this help to overcome that, but not enough people are having them.

On your paranoia, I think that you are probably right in that some if not a majority of the crowd was only congratulating themselves for actually "getting" poetry. But for some of those audience members, maybe that performance will be the "hole that poetry manages to leak through," and they in turn will go on to seek out higher forms of the genre, and possibly try it out for themselves. That could just be my eternal optimist coming out though...