4.05.2009

For anyone interested in the recent discussion here and in Joseph's blog about a new Great Voices list, and who missed Mark Wallace's February discussion of Michael Theune's review of The Iowa Anthology of new American Poetries, it's worth taking a look at, especially as a lesson in the fraught business of making a list in the first place. I particulary appreciated Michael's remark, near the top of the long list of comments following the entry, that "While the middle space seems like it is a meeting ground for opposites, and so signals an end to the “poetry wars,” middle space poetry (as I argue in my forthcoming review) in fact very often depends on an other to define itself against. Much middle space theory sets itself up over and against a whole range of “accessible” poetry, from slam to “ultra-talk”/”stand up” poetry. Middle space poetry does not end the poetry wars, but rather wages it by other means." I had naively thought the Plumbline School, by promulgating an avoidance of extremes, would be a non-conflict zone. I begin to see the error of my ways.

5 comments:

Joseph Duemer said...

Well, I'm a partisan of a certain kind of "accessible" poetry, though I understand the shortcomings of much of this sort. It seems to me that the post-avants and their fathers the Language Poets, have theorized poetic language as inaccessible to lived experience. It may be that the new middle ground poets imagine they stand in opposition to this trend, but I don't think they have found the way out of the epistemological dead end of theorized language. I hope to have a bit more to say about this in a post here at TPS before long.

Henry Gould said...

My sense of this particular group - that is, ourselves, the Plumbline School - is that we are exploring various issues in poetics that cluster around an idea of proportion, balance, equilibrium. That is, we are exploring the relationship between style/subject-matter, text/expression, writing/performance - with the basic leading idea being that poems often display some kind of fusion of these binaries, a conjunction of opposites.

I don't see this collaboration we are doing as leading directly to a united front, or stance, or polemic with other tendencies (though I could be wrong). Andrew Shields, for example, posted here recently a positive reading of a poem by Kit Robinson, showing how its "expression" & "description" (my terms here) combine together. Now Kit Robinson is considered part of the "Language School" wing of American poetry. So the alignments are not simple or partisan.

I think the process of imagining or shaping a new version of Hayden Carruth's anthology is a great way to represent what we mean here by the "Plumbline". But I also think it's a very ambitious project. An anthology basically presents an image of an era & its most important work. There are a lot of issues to work through in order to make something like this convincing & relatively "authroitative". I wonder if the Plumbline might consider developing a sort of offshoot blog, where these specific issues (around anthology-making) could be tossed around.

Henry Gould said...

sorry, typo above : obviously I meant AUTHORITATIVE (he said, authoritatively)...

Mairi said...

You didn't mean 'authoritative' at all. At least subconsciously you intended your original 'authroitative,' an interesting and probably ancient portmanteau derived from 'author,' 'throit' - early English for throat, eg. 'Thay schot gude Manfrild in athort the throit,' with 'authoritative' drawing up at the rear. There are no written examples of the word - Plumbline will have the first entry when they revise the OED - but it obviously meant/means the authoritative interpretation or version of the author's voice.

Henry Gould said...

Hwaet! Very gude!

- Jethro the full-throited Authro