Saturday, February 21, 2009


The thing that continues to irritate me about the whole discussion about "camps" is that it is always language poetry and the likes that are accused of being "campish". Meanwhile the Quietist establishment continues to publish the most conservative books and hire the least threatening people for jobs.

This is to say that the problem with the whole "hybrid" notion of two camps coming together is that there are not two or three camps; there is one fundamentally conservative establishment which resists any kind of new ideas or foreign influences, and which perpetuates an "elevated" notion of art.


Blogger The Primes said...

The so called "Quietists" may just be a product of public education. As poets, they seem to be imitating what they know in terms of what a lyric poem should look like,and how such a thing should function as an aesthetically pleasing communication tool.

Case in point, the other night I watched some giddy kids absolutely going frickin' bananas to read their Billy Collins and e.e. cummings aloud. Wow. The enthusiasm and drama were definitely there, but how are you going to tell them that the work is lame? They poured their little hearts out and actually made the work kinda important.
Now, I don't think this is an isolated occurence. My bet is that such preferences are as country-wide as it gets.

So a lot of this Quietists posturing may just be a defense for the poem-template they know-- anything else would somehow take the authenticity away from them and their work while marginallizing their efforts.

So, the problem is probably K-12 education. As a teacher in K-12, I can tell you the majority of teachers don't get it, and for those who do, they are embarrassed of sharing their po-life with colleagues. There' d be a witch hunt.

SO: if Obama wanted to help the arts, economically, it may be smart to revamp curriculums and have schools, as well as textbook companies, buy work from a variety of contemporary writers. Could you imagine Houghton-Mifflin commisioning chapbooks for k12? I'd probably swallow my tongue.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Rauan Klassnik said...

wouldn't it be more fun if we had "gangs" instead of "camps"-- ?? --

and we could wear jackets with the name of the our gang stitched on the back...

and you could tell, also, which gang we "ran with" by the brand of moped we went zipping by on....

(and I envision drive-by shootings and the like to settle any disputes...)

10:06 AM  
Blogger Iain said...

It's especially confusing for someone whose only access to the poetry world is through the blogs. The extent that certain people go on and on about "insularity" made me think for a little while (a couple years back) that the "quietists" must be being silenced in some unfair way.

It doesn't help that a lot of the web's conservative poetry apologists are pretty good at using what I guess I'll somewhat carelessly call "the language of the Left". It was pretty confusing for a little while, but upon visiting the bookstore, finding none of the poetry I wanted to read and a whole shelf of Billy Collins put things quickly in perspective.

12:23 PM  
Blogger The Primes said...

Rauan-- that's pretty funny. Mopeds are cool, but what about the tree house and the broadway musical?


2:21 PM  
Blogger Rauan Klassnik said...

everything, JR, everything... different types of cub and scout badges. and different types of cookies for fund-raising.

different types of trees for Israel, Palestine, etc,....

we're talking some damned tough gangs, here, man....

3:46 PM  
Blogger Max said...

I disagree about the extent to which this conservative group really controls much of anything anymore (since they seem to be ceding territory as time goes on, not consolidating it), but as regarding this group's characterization of itself as the pure holders of tradition and of others as "camps," I do agree that they're silly.

Worth opposing? Uh, maybe. But again, I don't see them fortifying their position, really, as time goes on. Younger writers are filtering into MFA jobs all the time. I think what we need to fear is another solidification as these younger writers (1) age and (2) grow comfortable in their cushy jobs.

And actually, I would be in favor of camps if they really, truly were violent street gangs. That is the only condition under which I would like them. If you're going to slag someone off, at least be willing to shoot them in the chest or cut their throat, naw'mean?

5:37 PM  

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