No, not a werewolf. I was a person who attended poetry readings.
Maryrose alerted me to a very nice post on Mark Wallace's blog about how nice poetry readings are, how they allow poetry communities and poetry-based relationships to flourish, and how keen this whole world is.
Curtis Faville responded in the comments with some concerns about such "poetry communities" and how the performative nature of a poetry reading says nothing about the quality of poetry on the page, which he seems to equate with the quality of poetry.
Now, resigning myself to the role of poetry blogger, I'm going to use this opportunity to reply to both of them, first to suggest that Faville is a bit off in his sense that the page is the proper home of poetry, and to bear witness to my own experiences with poetry communities.
1. The page is not the ultimate arbiter of poeminess. That is limiting and ahistorical. It denies the poemy effectiveness of language when spoken. It is a giant "fuck you" to sound poetry. It insists that poetry is not for now but for the ages. But, as someone who lives now and not in the ages, I could hardly care what the ages or those who live in the ages think. Their poemic concerns are, by and large, none of my business. They are a wildly unpredictable bunch, who never return my e-mails. I'll let them work out poeminess on their own; they won't decide what I get poemy goodness from.
2. The performative nature of the page is indeed different from the performative nature of the reading, and one doesn't necessarily translate into the other. I think I just mentioned this.
Now, on to my experience as a teenager who, unlike Wallace, had access to poetry readings. Then we'll get back to this. (We will, today, ignore the role of the internet.)
When I was 19ish and growing up in New York City I started going to poetry readings. For a while I went fairly regularly to readings at the Ear Inn. Perhaps some of you reading this also were going to readings there then. Do you remember me? At the time I looked something like the guy on the left, the taller one:
No, you probably don't remember me. I found going to these poetry readings mostly an alienating experience, mostly (with a few exceptions) filled with endless encounters with unwelcoming careerists, whom I had nothing to offer. I was a quiet, awkward teenager. I had little to offer for a careerist poem. Even the poetry zine I was publishing was more interested in what people who didn't consider themselves poets wrote than "real" poets. I was largely superfluous to the scene. No one seemed to be talking about things I was interested in talking about anyways -- no one was talking shop, certainly, and if they had it probably would have been a very different type of shop than what I was interested in.
So I had access to a poetry scene as a teenager, and found it to be fairly disgusting and off-putting. It was nice to see some of the poets whose work I enjoyed read, and it made me feel connected to moderately famous people, but these connections were fairly ephemeral and certainly were nothing like what Mark Wallace is talking about.
And then I moved to Portland, where there wasn't a poetry scene (of the sort of poetry I was interested in, anyways). A handful of (generally non-careerist) poets got together (read: were organized by David Abel) and started up a scene, and it's doing well now, and now I finding myself agreeing with Wallace's assessment, that the interaction of interesting people is one of the main draws of "being a poet". I'd even go further, and suggest that some of the most interesting poetic moments happen in those or out of those interactions -- or, at least, it's been important to me. (See: Frank O'Hara: The Poetics of Coterie by Lytle Shaw, and eventually there will be a link to a pdf for The Redundancies here.)
So now I've lived in a place with a dysfunctional (for my needs) poetry scene, and one with a functional poetry scene (for my needs), and I'm about to move to a third city, and I am, frankly, a bit worried that I won't have a functional poetry scene in this new city. Which is to say, that I won't have poetry in this new city. In that sense. And what will I have to do about it, or what will I be able to do about it.
3. Which makes Faville's reaction -- of withdrawal, of burying one's head in the page, and declaring it to be the true place of poetry -- seem all the more tempting; it is safer, more controllable. Hell, we can all agree, is other people. But I'm not ready to give up on the possibilities and the poetics of human interaction yet.
Books shaped like books
Journals ask me for poems sometimes
Other poety blogs
- angela rawlings
- Brian Kim Stefans
- Catherine Daly
- Charles Alexander
- Crag Hill
- Craig Conley
- Dodie Bellamy
- For Godot
- Gary Barwin
- Geof Huth
- Geoffrey Chaucer
- Grand Text Auto
- Harriet [The Poetry Foundation]
- J.A. Lee
- Jenny Sampirisi
- Johannes Göransson
- Joseph Bradshaw
- Kasey Mohammad
- Lanny Quarles
- Mark Wallace
- Maryrose Larkin
- Michael Kelleher
- Nicholas Manning
- Patrick Playter Hartigan
- Pearl Pirie
- Rodney Koeneke
- Ron Silliman
- Sam Lohmann
- Sina Queyras
- Susana Gardner
- Troy Lloyd
'Pataphysics A.D. Melville Aaron Tucker advertising as poetry Agius of Corvey AIDS Alexis Muirhead Alfred Joyce Kilmer Alixandra Bamford alphabet anagrams Ange Mlinko anticipatory plagiarism aphorism appropriation Aram Saroyan archiving Armand Schwerner Arthur Golding B.L. Ullman bad writing Barack Obama Barrett Watten Bauhaus Bill Kennedy Bob Perelman book reviews books books rec'd bookstores Borders bpNichol Buggeryville news C.T. Funkhouser Canada Catherine Daly chance Charles O. Hartman Charles Olson children's literature Christian Bök Clark Coolidge Coach House Press communities complexity conceptual poetics constraint writing Crag Hill Craig Conley criticism Curtis Faville Dan Raphael Dante Alighieri Darby Conley Dave Pollard David Abel David Foster Wallace David Markson David Melnick derek beaulieu dictionaries Donato Mancini Donatus Doug Nufer Edwin Abbott Abbott Eileen Joy Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl elaboration Elliot Spitzer Emily Dickinson Emmett Williams Ennius Ennodius erasure Eric Prenowitz Erik Satie Ernst Robert Curtius etymologies Exercises in Penmanship Ezra Pound feminism flarf flim footnotes Franco Moretti François Rabelais Frank O'Hara Fred Wah Frederic Jameson furniture text Garrison Keillor Gary Barwin Gary Snyder Gary Sullivan Geof Huth George Lakoff George Oppen Georges Perec Gerard Manley Hopkins Gertrude Stein Gil Ott Google Guy Davenport Hank Lazer Hannah Weiner Hebrew Heinrich Heine Henry David Thoreau Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Homer homophonic translation Hugh Kenner Hugh Primas hypertext infinity informalism introductions Issue 1 J.W.D. Dougherty Jack Spicer Jackson Mac Low Jacques Barzun Jacques Derrida James Wright Jason Christie Jay MillAr Jeanne Heuving Jen Bervin Jennifer Bartlett Jerome Jesse Huisken Jesse Seldess Jim Carpenter Joan Retallack Johannes Göransson John Ashbery John Cage John Dryden John Oswald JonArno Lawson Jordan Scott Joseph Addison Joseph Bradshaw Joseph Noble journals Juliana Spahr K. Silem Mohammad Karl Marx Karlheinz Stockhausen Karri Kokko Katherine Parrish Ken Clinger Kenneth Goldsmith Kurt Schwitters Larry Eigner Latin Leo Daedalus Lindsay Hill linkdump Lisa Radon lists Ludwig Wittgenstein Lyn Hejinian Lynn Behrendt lyrics Lytle Shaw Lytton Smith M. NourbeSe Philip Maggie Helwig Mahmoud Darwish mail art manifesto Marcel Duchamp Marcus Boon marginalia Marjorie Perloff Mark Nowak mARK oWEns Mark Truscott Mark Wallace Mary Norbert Körte Maryrose Larkin me medieval Michael Kelleher Michael Maranda Michael Schiavo Michel Foucault Monica de la Torre Morton Feldman music my poetry N+7 Natalie Zina Walschots Neo-Benshi New York City newspoem Nicholas Manning Nick Montfort Nick Piombino Nico Vassilakis Ogden Nash Olivier Messiaen Orson Welles Oulipo Ovid Pål Waaktaar palindrome Parasitic Ventures Press parts of speech Paul Dutton Paul Zumthor pdfs Peanuts Pearl Pirie Performance Works Northwest Philip Whalen Plato poem poetics poetics as ethics poetics as politics Poetry Foundation polyglot populism Portland procedures Pseudo-Cicero Pseudo-Piuma publishing punctuation puns purpose of poetry queer Ray Bradbury Raymond Roussel reading rhyme rhyme time Richard Foreman Rob Read Robert Bly Robert Dewhurst Robert Mittenthal Robert Rauschenberg Robert Wilson Rodney Koeneke Ron Silliman Rubba Ducky Rudy Clay Ryan Fitzpatrick Sam Lohmann Santa Claus Sarah Mangold Sarah Palin scrabble second language Sesame Street Sharron Harris Sigmund Freud Sina Queyras Slavoj Žižek Sonja Ahlers Spare Room spoken vs read Stan Rogal Stephanie Young Stephen Cain Stephen Collis Stephen McLaughlin Stephen Ratcliffe Steve McCaffery Steve Venright survey Susan Polis Schutz Tears for Fears Ted Berrigan The Agora the Scream The Simpsons Theodor Adorno theory Thomas A. Clark three nice poety things Tina Darragh Toronto translation U.S. ukulele Valerie Solanas Vergil Virginia Woolf Walt Whitman Walter Benjamin William Shakespeare William Stafford William Wordsworth wisdom from the mountain tops writing exercises würm