I am not posting to this blog so much, lately, and little longer than a quotation, because I am plunged in my academic training, and I suspect it will be that way for at least the next few months.

Nevertheless, a quick note. I am working on my selections for Spare Room's 100th reading, which will be a big hoe-down of an event featuring "One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets from the Past Hundred Years". Ten people who have been involved with organizing Spare Room have been asked to select ten poems from ten poets, which will then be read on Sunday, January 25th, starting at 2pm, and going on for a few hours.

And I am flying back to Portland for the event!

Picking ten poets is not the tricky part. I quickly picked a few that I wanted to ensure were included (Jackson Mac Low, Hannah Wiener, and others) and saved a few spots to choose after I saw what others had chosen, so I could balance out the dance card. Those will be easy to fill.

But I was trying to pick exactly which Jackson Mac Low poem to read last night, and it was overwhelming. Not only because there were so many options, but also because I wanted something that would "work" read aloud, and something that would work without context (in case people didn't know from Jackson -- something that would be "self-evident", or approximately self-evident). But I also wanted something that would justify his inclusion -- a "show-stopper" -- and something that would point to all the reasons why he's such an important poet to me. But I also also wanted to use this as an opportunity to read one of his texts that I've wanted to work with for ages.

This is almost certainly too much to demand of a few minutes of text, however. Plus if everyone chooses all of their poems with this method, the evening will be impossibly ponderous, unrelentingly so, and it will reinforce the Norton Anthology approach to poetry -- that it is monumental, and that poems should feel complete in themselves in some way. And some poems do, and sometimes that is nice, but of course that's not actually what I'm interested about in Jackson's work, or Ted Berrigan's (outside of the Sonnets), or Hannah Weiner's -- all of them were interested in making a quotidian poetry, a poetry that lived with them. Jackson's processes, Ted's postcards, Hannah's journals, all point to this very unmonumental approach.

So I'm trying to recalibrate with that in mind. I will try to push the event away from "100 monuments of awesomeness" and more towards "100 years of people doing stuff" -- though the urge to show that poetry can be monumental and awesome is great, and not to be completely neglected, and I'm sure the event overall will be a mix of the monumental, the everyday, and the in-between -- and maybe the event itself will be some or all of those things.


  1. k said...

    :( Why must I be visiting with Dad many many states away while you are back in town and such a great event will be happening?  


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