Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Post-Avant, SoQ, Oral/Visual Poetries

A lively discussion from April, 2009,  on how we might critically define our multi-varied poetries. ... or not
G.M. Palmer,
Art Durkee,
John Moore Williams and
VizPo Central all chime in.

What it all boils down in a way is simply the struggle for markets, the creation of marketing techniques, and securing a base from which to launch one's endeavors forth in the poetic /academic market place. "Pushing the Product" as they say in the music industry--"shipping x number of Units"--trucks rumbling through the night on lonesome "routes" long abandoned for the more glamourous freeways, stocked with crates and boxes of Units whoe main point of existence is simply that--that they exist and were shipped. How many were sold--usually conflated with those shipped--is a matter open to conjecture. The books, however, have long been cooked and "That's Entertainment."
 David-Baptiste Chirot

Is this really what "it all boils down to?"

Let's hope not.
Palmer (of Strong Verse) wrings his hands at the sorry state of poetry. Unfortunately, as seems typical of members of that particular choir, he's way too impressed by sales figures and embarrassingly wrong-headed comparisons with the likes of whats-her-name... of Harry Potter Ltd. One more sad example of how the Corporate Empire's Bottom Line psychosis derails rational thought
But he hosts a good discussion.


  1. I'm not "impressed" by sales figures. I do, however, use sales figures to demonstrate the impact that poetry has on the professional literary world--which is damn near zero. This means that poetry is relegated to the obsessive compulsive and the narcissistic--not a place any art should live.

  2. Palmer,
    Your views are right up to date--agree perfectly with the Supreme Court: money is speech.

    And here I had the notion that making art had something to do with the love of it--the love of doing and making. I may be wrong, but you're going to have pay a bit more attention to basic logic and be more careful in your choice of words to convince me. I can't make heads or tails of your comment.

    You are claiming that: because poetry has near zero 'impact' (a metaphor that needs explaining--have no idea what you mean by 'impact.'): therefore (?) poetry is 'relegated' (who or what does this'relegating?') to the obsessive compulsive and narcissistic. ... which seems not to have to do with persons, but is a kind of 'place.'

    A 'place' that would be transformed or altered in some way if only the 'professional literary world (again.. another place.. are any of these places inhabited, one wonders?)... so this professional space/place would, by some unaccounted for magical force, cure this other place of OCD and narcissim. Who knew "places" could be assigned DSM-IV classifications!

    And these transformations--with no agents! That does save you the trouble of bothering with psychological questions, I'll grant you that.

    So...what on earth are you trying to say? Beyond a display of anxious contempt, I mean?

    Let me quote once more Steven Augustine on the same subject: "We need a non-mercantile equivalent for the word “career”. We need a word denoting a long-term pursuit of creative projects, or project, in which the quality of the ongoing results evolve with experience, but in which the effort is not motivated by the promise of money, or likewise judged by its monetary potential. We need a term like that and there is none; just the vaguely-insulting “avocation” (which imputes, somehow, a touching childishness or eccentricity) or the explicitly insulting “hobby” (for which “skill” plays no necessary role)."

    I like rather like 'vocation,' a word that calls to mind, not its religious associations, but ... vacation. Vocation-vacation... from the whole bought and paid for pimp whore 'professional' class.

  3. Sigh.

    If making a bit of art that no one cares about is enough for your muse then so be it. But there is a great deal to be said for ambition--one that includes snagging the focus of a great many ears and eyes with language.

    Perhaps poetry's ship has sailed--perhaps poetry in America will never be loved my more than a handful of people. I, however, have no interest in behaving as if that is true.

  4. What grounds do you have for trusting those readers you are so eager to appease? Trusting them, that is--to seek more than satisfaction of their own ignorance, bigotry and reinforcement for their own received notions? That's exactly what mass market publications do. It's what the corporate publishers want. It's what sells. There's a multibillion dollar industry there--what old folks like me used to call "Madison Avenue."

    You call your wish for fame and readers "ambition," but it sounds much more like insecurity--that you are less interested in your art than in your neediness, your hunger for confirmation. Not at all the same thing.

    If you first write what you love, nourishing your understanding and improving your powers of judgment--and then, after you've generated work deserving of the effort--go out and seek readers, publication, all that goes into selling a 'thing,' a product.. well and good. That's a worthy ambition. I would encourage you. But if you are writing, not through your own intelligence, sensibility and aesthetic ambition, but producing on demand what you can only guess others might want and need--that isn't ambition: it's pandering.

    Not just bad art. It's bad faith. Perversion of your own character, of such talent and insight as you may possess. Surely you don't think that sales and the countless readers you hope to attract--surely you don't really believe that will bring you satisfaction? Peace?

    The way is littered with the bodies of those who shared such delusions. I would hope you might ask more of yourself.

    As for myself--I find that aesthetic ambition is richly rewarding. Believing in your own calling and in the work you generate makes the selling both easier, and without the terrible anxiety and psychological damage that comes of trying to satisfy needs the roots of which almost surely lie elsewhere.


  5. I also come in peace, G.M.
    Maybe this will help...


  6. Here's a link to the web page in the previous comment.


  7. "If making a bit of art that no one cares about is enough for your muse then so be it."

    Not giving a damn if anyone else gives a damn is the whole point of *having* a muse. Save yourself lots of grief, my friend, and learn to write code instead of fucking with Art. You might just get the gigantic audience you need.

  8. After her mother had been taken by the Nazis, forbidden to perform, forbidden to teach music to non Jews, Alice Herz Sommer, now 106, tells Ofer Aderet: " ...an inner voice told me, 'From now on you alone can help yourself. Not your husband, not the doctor, not the child.' And at that moment I knew I had to play Frederic Chopin's 24 etudes, which are the greatest challenge for any pianist. Like Goethe's 'Faust' or Shakespeare's 'Hamlet.' I ran home and from that moment on I practiced for hours and hours. Until they forced us out."

    That, Mr. Palmer, is how an artist thinks. That is what 'ambition' looks like.