Sunday, June 1, 2008

comments on my own comment

I frequently visit Poetry Foundation's Harriet, and late last night when I was there I felt a need to respond to Kenneth Goldsmith's "Charles Bernstein Recants" post. [ Have never figured out why I often find myself reading and/or composing when I ought to be in bed. ] Others had made brief comments; but I knew mine would be considerably longer, and that it would be difficult to write, not only because I was tired but also because my thoughts had not yet been consciously formed. As June began last year, I conceived the task of making three poems each day for that month--I made 85. My intent was to further explore styles which were not, as Ron Silliman has said, my "cup of tea" and (for the most part) I succeeded. My comment at Harriet shows as having been posted on June 1, 2008 12:05 AM. Made five minor fixes today. This is the repaired version: My thought chamber's been clocked askew over this. Isn't Charles Bernstein a poet of irony/parody/satire, a probable Alexamder Pope for our time? It may well be he was being on the horizontal at the symposium in Arizona, but for me/ only the photo of him here is an indication of that. If so, my feeling is--from what it is said he said-- he went too far. Saying that "the only real difference between the work of the post-avant and my neighbor across the hall at the university, Carl Dennis, is in the way it is received and written about. . . ." (thank you, Annie Finch) doesn't indicate a solid position one way or another. Given the number of poets now writing, each one with a personality at a different location on the personality scale at any one moment, and given that the same is true for those who read poems, chances are there are audiences for poems made from a myriad of aesthetic stances. Saying that "only poets working in solitude and individually can produce poems of enduring value" suffers from a similar vagueness. Even in a collaborative effort, each poet is working alone in her/his own solitude, such as it is; and there is no reason a collaborative effort can't produce an enduring poem. To mess with Gertrude Stein's "A rose is a rose is a rose" by changing it to: "Creativity is creativity is creativity." I honestly do not get into Stein's work, not yet anyway; but that doesn't make her work any less creative. - To mess with Elizabeth Barrett Browning by changing one word: "How do I love thee? Let me create the ways." Her famed sonnet is not made less thereby. From my perspective, there is room for as many ways of working with words as can be imagined. Each maker of poems finds her/his own comfort zone. What else can one do? Each maker of poems learns from other makers of poems and from anyone and any thing. I do agree that becoming too attached to one's own way of making is dangerous and ultimately pompous like a tyrant king or tyrant president. Backing away from such a self-important attitude is an honorable move, but ceasing to follow one's own lights is not. Perhaps Mr. Bernstein's lights have phased to a new color. If they have, then they have. I, like Whitman, like most humans, am likely to change my view of something at any moment. Positive inescapability. For years I mistakenly spelled Rilke's first name "Ranier" because I didn't pay close enough attention to what was entering my eyes, and because I liked the sound of it. ======= On thinking about it, it seems normal that those at the forefront of a movement would project nonconciliatory attitudes. After all, they firmly believe in their agendas. If they seem pompous, therefore, it may be they are or it may be their convictions just make it appear they are. Pound? I still am unable to tell Charles Bernstein's stand now, and I am not sure hearing him read his lengthy Recantorium poem would dispel my uncertainty. From reading a few of his poems, I doubt reading his work would be of use since I often have trouble catching the tone in a word passage. The GRE exam I took in 1984 had two tone questions. My answers? And what aesthetic am I advocating? See my It Poetics post. Rho00084

1 comment:

Jeremy James Thompson said...

I continue to suspect that there are no non-mercurial stances or perspectives within so many debates concerning the conceptual (poetics). I need to investigate the post you are commenting on.