Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Abuzz in the Comments Section

Here is a great post, full of useful questions by someone out there in the void:

"Thank you for the sensitivity of your response. I must say though that it is not just the prestige Language poets of Hejinian or Bernstein (or just a few) that get teaching posts in academe but a quite large number of experimental assistant professors who were hired in strong academic positions in the 90s and at the beginning of the 20th century. This is not to say that there is not a mainstream current but reasoning guides me not to overlook how the job market truly is and how much the assumed hostility to experimentals is a false assumption.

Furthermore, why do some experimentals want to be in those SoQ journals, those presses, and those readings? Why, if your explanation of his motives is correct, is Ron so concerned about their prizes, readings, and presses if he cannot stand the work itself. Why would he wish to get in to spheres that champion a work that he does not like? And why do experimentals exclude others with the same force as they are excluded from so called SoQ outlets? As you acknowledge, many experimentals have done quite well in erecting their own readings, presses, and series for over THIRTY YEARS--quite awhile now.

Quite frankly, the sales of a midlist FSG or Pitt series (for example) poetry book (and this is not conjecture but inside knowledge) are still quite low in comparison to all other trade publishing because poetry sales are all low. A book by a top Language poet like Silliman (and his work itself deserves to be called the top) with a great high prestige experimental press like Salt Publishing (which polices its barriers with as much vigilance as FSG and even posts an essay on its website by the publisher that implies that he favors authors who have a very public, show-offy presence) is likely to sell just as much as a book by a midlist SoQ poets (and I don't mean Billy Collins). So it is hardly the money, right? So is it a lusting after a certain kind of PRESTIGE and if so, jeez, that is just so disappointing...And I think that lusting for prestige may be in fact where some of that us-against-them bile comes from: some of that is indeed the same kind of public arrogance, mud-slinging, and yes "angry" diatribes and longing for prizes and longing for status that SoQ poets dish out in spades. Why would experimentals even want that? Ideology does not require this kind of lusting for favor and prestige--the kind that makes the criticisms of SoQ venues smack of ego-driven desires for their kind of fame and recognition when there are other far more holistic realms of recognition, especially the honor of the work itself.

I, for one, would rather just be respected by a few people who truly understand my work than popularly and superficially adored by the many whose principles vy with my own. I also think that there is a time to be QUIET, to let the work speak for itself. I am saddened that for some experimentals the very word quiet is suspect. Everyting is not as it seems. Letting work speak for itself without over-valorization, romanticization, and overt politicization is a form of quietitude that holds some honor in an increasingly COMPETITIVE mass-mediated world where clamoring for favor, fame, prizes, and prestige rules. Let's reexamine the experimentals-versus-traditionals reality show...Additionally, there are certain Pan-Asian poetics that thrive on an ecologically centered poetics of quiet that are not like the SoQ; that's why a LABEL like "quietude" is so problematic because some cultural manifestations of quietude are not inherently anglophile or problematic to me.

You see: many experimental poets' work is just too important and strong to repeat those kind of ego-driven, us-versus-them tactics and longings. It's quite regrettable, especially when we need MUCH, MUCH more close analyses of the work itself than this insistent warring."

No comments: