Saturday, January 21, 2006

A question: can/how much does shared geography trump aesthetic allegiances? I'm positive that what comes into my poetry appreciation radar would be much more narrow if it weren't for the different writers/schools that all of us regard as central reference points. Could it possibly be a disability for cities with larger poetry communities that one's company can become more "specialized"? I was citing an example to Ray last night, I think, how the film Good Night and Good Luck showed Edward R. Murrow interviewing the likes of Liberace in order to have a forum with as wide an audience as it did that was able to be as revelatory as it was in reporting the shenanigans of McCarthy. How much should a poetry community exert itself to engage other factions when it is just darn comfortable to "preach to the choir" and be surrounded by aesthetic kin? Is it worth it? What do we expect in return? Would you describe the circle of writers you fraternize with regularly as homogeneous, variations within the choir or otherwise? What poets would you like to abduct other states/cities/towns/hamlets to add to our Chicago midsts?


At 10:05 AM, Blogger Dave said...

I think that the phrase you give - "variations within the choir" - would be closest to my feelings about the poets I talk with, write with, and read with. Because while we agree about the kinds of poetry we cannot truck with, we choose vastly different aesthetics for our opposition. Reading with Jesse in Milwaukee, and seeing him read on Friday, I note that we (he and I) follow very different traditions; Chuck Stebelton commented to me that Jesse's work is so aural, and mine is so based on vision.

But I also think it's essential that we all (at least) attempt to understand one another, even if we don't agree with each other's work. Jesse, Roberto, and I read a Jackson Mac Low piece together last week - we were three poets with very different styles, meeting together at this common point of reference, or "central reference point," as you say.

My experiences seeing the work written by such different writers as Joel Felix and Laura Sims and Chuck Stebelton, for example, has helped to solidify my own aesthetic choices.

At 5:08 PM, Blogger bill said...

poets in the community here have vastly differing poetics. i think dave is correct there. and in some sense, i see how you would suggest that the community could be closed, thus effectively putting blinders on our fields of vision. this seems especially the case, as ray likes to suggest, because one often sees very similar crowds at readings in milwaukee and in chicago. it's rare that i don't see at least one person i know at any reading.

that said, the existence of such a group of poets who are losely connected is good for fostering experimental poetics, no matter how different the individual poetics are. having come from a relative poetic backwater to here several years ago, i'm still very grateful for all the wonderful experimental poets in the region. we could say that local experimental poets need to acknowledge other types of "mainstream" poetry more often, but i personally feel that it is hard to forget such poetry, even in a tight group. where i work in academia, the poetics i see at night and on the weekends does not have a home besides the home that i make for it (or that other writers make); plus, the poetry that we see advertised in the media most often, even in our own cities, is "mainstream." check out the Reader's reading page or the Tribune's book section.

in sum, i think we should be open to each other's poetics, as dave states, but i also think we should be aware and welcoming to mainstream poetics--even though mainstream poets might not be that open to use (though many are).

At 11:55 AM, Blogger Kerri said...

I should know better than to read the comment boxes on Silliman's blog, but, friends, this toss looks in our direction..

"Ron will refer to the 'Chicago scene' or the 'Chapel Hill Scene' because there are five or eight people in town who often read together or are associated in some way, run a small magazine or meet at the same coffee-house. This kind of thing is very big among the French, and to a lesser extent in a few other European nations (the Czechs, etc.). It tends to make its participants somewhat insular, and to increase their sense of importance among themselves."

THE CHICAGO RENAISSANCE has at least 9 members, no?


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