2.22.2009

Recap

A couple of people have emailed me asking for my take on the Plumbline and I wrote a post for my own blog that begins a little differently, but is pretty much identical to this one. This project has generated a good deal of useful discussion in a short time, I think, though necessarily much of the talk at this point is range-finding and terminological in nature. The original idea, which I think has been undergoing a few modifications behind the scenes, was to initiate a discussion that would seek to find a new kind of center for poetic practice, and for the poem in this historical moment. (Or perhaps the intention was / is to rediscover an old center now obscured.)

The Plumbline was pulled out of the old tool box, frankly, in reaction to a number of current trends that seem out of kilter, so there is an element of the polemical in our discussions, though they are secondary to our main purposes. Henry has explicitly named Flarf as one thing he's reacting against; my own frustration with current practice stems from the cultural configuration that sponsors an all-or-nothing divide between the so called "School of Quietude" and the so called "Post Avant." I'm already on record as preferring something like Seth Abramson's ecology of current poetry as a starting point. One of the things that attracts me to this effort, as I've said, is that the polemical intent is subordinated to an exploratory, tentative approach to poetic practice and theorizing about poetry - our own as well as that of others. Speaking for myself, I am more interested in charting my own practice, which has grown stale, than in convincing others to join a movement.

Thus, the Plumbline: An attempt to chart what is actually going on in current poetry and to develop a terminology more descriptive than the one we have got with which to discuss the cultural landscape and the poetic practice located in that landscape. And, yes, an attempt to promote a particular sort of poetry, or poetry based on a particular set of (broadly defined) principles that orbit around the idea of the middle voice, modesty, and the golden mean. A still point, an unwobbling pivot, amidst the static and random noises of current American literary culture. Or that's how I read -- and continue to read -- the intentions of the Plumbline. I suspect Henry will soon be supplementing these remarks with his own take on the show so far, but I know I can speak for all of the Plumbline contributors in inviting other poets into the conversation.


No comments: