Saturday, September 11, 2004

On "Experimental" Poetry

Everybody likes to beat up on the strawman/woman of confessional "narrative" poetry. Everybody has read language poetry and now the narrative poetry of the 1970s is no longer "smart." We agree that such poetry is ludicrous. However, we have noted with interest that most of these people who have read language poetry, Jorie Graham and Ashbery, and who admire each others' poems for being "smart" have just exchanged cosmetics. They are writing the same little pious poems that the confessional poets wrote. Only instead of writing poems that are "real" (grampa, child abuse, nature) they write poems that are "smart" (signifier, ellipsis, problematize). The concept of psychology is the same. What does "experimental" mean these days? Oddly it has come to mean the same as "alternative music" meant in the 1990s. It means nostalgic. The same thing "real" meant in the 70s and 80s. (Somwhere in this rat beats Eliot's hyacinth girl). Experimental poetry buries its head and plays a funeral dirge on a violin because it reminds it of the movies it used to watch when it had a head. We laugh at this phenomenon. Poetry is hilarious. Montgomery Cliff is not the same person as Montgomery Clift. Are manifestoes nostalgic? Are you nostalgic? Are you my Acapulco? We are patently nostalgic. We prefer to read Anatol Stern. What happened?

2 Comments:

Blogger Erik said...

For what it's worth and pardon my ignorance: Francis Bacon talks about hypothesis being overwhelmed by theses in the creating of natural histories. In my mind his appendices work out to be like case studies in which experiment is dominated by observation.

October 19, 2005 at 10:36 AM  
Blogger olga stamata said...

experimentalism in art/poetry is a notion that i find almost laughable in this age of virtual sameness. Historically, experimentalism has been plagued by either overwrought dialectism or pedantically conditioned radicalism. With the partial exception of peripheral groupings: zurich dada, Bataillean Surrealism,Vienna Group (kinderoper.literary cabaret), Gruppo 63, etc., most a. garde practitioners (neo dada, a. kaprow, fluxus, minimalists, conceptualists bla bla) have fallen under the spell of Ducahmp's (male dominate) disconnected, anti-aestheticism.Although Flux-work can be appreciated as a template for lived art most flux pieces seem deliberately empirical and tend to disengagedly explore irrationalism without fully embracing it (a disavowal of one's own lunacy?) It seems that the avant garde has lost sight not just of its political/social underpinnings but of its sense of psycho-expansiveness. Consider individuals like; baroness loringhoven who were ignored or devalued as poets/artists because of their erratic behavior and unwillingness to engage in serious empirical inquiry. Others like A. Cravan, Baader defined a certain lived through irrationalism that was self-engendered and had nothing to do with- alogic inquisition (fluxus/happenings/concretsism/conceptual art).
Given the endless experiments/inquiries into language/meaning do we need further rehashed innovation (becomes commodified means) or should we consider the lunacy/paroxysm of poetic acts (chambered or environmental) as a possibility of momentary egress from virtuality.

February 27, 2006 at 2:51 PM  

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