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Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Identification 

Yesterday at the Writers House for Lyn Hejinian's Q&A, Kathy Lou Schultz was asking about the wordings of, the categorization of where poetry is headed. In fact, I believe the one term she used by example in her question was, "post-Language."

What I appreciated most in Hejinian's response was her emphasis on how many "tendrils" are sent out by younger writers today, and as she said, tendrils which are not just dipping into the lineage of poetry but many other "things."

This makes me think about a poet friend of mine (won't mention his name, since I'm positive he wouldn't want me to) who recently said that much of the poetry being written today is a hybrid of Language School and New York School. It's something to explore of course, in the idea that these are two forces which have quite a bit of exposure and influence, etc. But I prefer Hejinian's approach, that it's much wider, that there's so much more going on and going into the poems written today.

The care of the identification of who we are and/or what we're doing is going on all the time of course, and it does help us see how the view is or isn't a clearing for everyone at work. For instance, this reminds me of the BANJO
conversation between Carol Mirakove and Kaia Sand, when Carol asked about the "Women in the Avant-Garde" panel Kaia had put together. Kaia said, "I chose the term 'avant garde' over 'experimental' because 'avant-garde' implies the social side of the work. There are a lot of ways to pitch in with an avant-garde movement--this is an inclusive frame. So many artists have shown us that if you want to extend what's possible, you need to build the ground to walk on--and that's collective action."

Kaia is always an inspiration because she sees the value of "an inclusive frame" as something vital to real progress derived from real determination for the self actualized: whole as body of many. It's all these ideas that make me have less anger for the competitive nature in so many poets, and more sadness for them. Those who have nothing at the end of the barrel of the gun they aim then their own gains are sad creatures. And I say creatures, because everyone I've met who fits this has gotten a kind of creepy, reptilian, jumpy, weird guilty-because-I-fucked-you-over manner about them that they just can't seem to ever shake.

Oh, by the way, two myths Hejinian dispelled:

1.) The blog that's floating around out there where My Life is being posted one sentence at a time has nothing to do with her. She says she has no idea who this is, and wants everyone to know that it is in fact not her. That was a surprise.

2.) When I asked her about the conversation that was going on after her reading/talk at Villanova University around the table of snacks about younger poets and politics, about how she sounded dismayed, she made it clear that she was talking about something specific to her region that had been going on. She also added to this that she wanted everyone to know that that Poetry Project Newsletter which had caused such a stir where it looked as if she was criticizing young poets for not having a political center was something that was taken out of context completely. In fact she went on to say that she feels younger poets writing today have shown themselves as having great courage and vitality.

more later,
CAConrad
p.s. after the Lyn Hejinian event I went to a nearby thrift store and found (for only $1) a 1958 EVERGREEN REVIEW, which has Frank O'Hara's "In Memory of My Feelings" as well as a conversation between O'Hara and painter Franz Kline. John Rechy also appears, writing on El Paso and Juarez. Poems by Creeley, McClure, Snyder and others. It's great, and I'm glad I found it, but at the same time it's really impossible to not notice that in a magazine which is 188 pages long, there's not a single woman.

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