Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Here's something to marinate on: By attemping to model artistic production on social struggle, the avant-garde ends up producing artworks that restrict possiblities of social exploration and connection.

Oops! A fine pickle.

(Pickles, waffles, donuts, muffins: I guess I'm hungry.)

I imagine you could make a perfectly plausible argument, in the abstract, for what David's saying. But my own experience has been just the opposite. I remember dutifully taking workshops in college, laboring to create perfectly honed metaphors and conceits, then scratching my head when my teacher would pick up someone else's poem and simply say: "I get it." In that world poetry was a mystical gift, given to some and not others. It's like believing in fate: even if it's true, it doesn't give you much help with living.

Discovering avant-garde writing was a liberation from this narrow idea of poetry. Did the avant-garde have its own hierarchies, its own pretensions? Sure. But the sense that poetic practice could be something open to discussion and debate gave me a way back into poetry, one that wasn't simply based on the work of individual and isolated souls, but that recognized the role of groups and communities in making a context for reading and writing.

Stir & stew.

No comments: