Tuesday, July 07, 2009


My post below did bring up some pretty basic points.

For one that the change in literary taste (as Kent suggested in his post) is not just a change in writing styles but a change in reading approaches, and that literary criticism and academic writing is now more important to poetry than it was just a few years ago.

Either Language Poetry's entrance into the academy led to a more theoretical or academic approach; or Langpo's institutionalization was merely a sign of that change.

There is not only little criticism on Edson, I get the impression that there was little criticism on any contemporary poetry for some time. (This is a totally unscientific observation, ironically). This may have something to do with the now crumbling regime of quietist workshopism- poems were not to be discussed academically but in a workshop setting which was supposed to be about getting rid of the rough edges.

[If there's anything surprising about Edson it's that he was ever allowed - however peripherally - to become known in this quietist system. Though, as I noted below, the way he was brought into the discussion was as a loopy writer of the unconscious, and he was not ever made a model but a funny aberration. Not a serious writer!]

When practicing poets are involved in the writing of the academic studies of contemporary poetry, it makes sense that you get something like "conceptual writing" which seems to be made to be subjected to academic study.

See Kenny Goldsmith's little one-paragraph cliffnotes whose aim is clearly to convince/explain to academics and undergrads that one can teach/write papers about these works - look! It's easy! Here's how you teach this material! How you write a paper about it!

Edson is certainly not poetry that lends itself to that model of criticism (something subverts gender, something points out this or that about the urban geography etc). It takes another form of criticism.

However, as I noted, Deleuze and Guattari and many scholars have written about Michaux (and Par Backstrom has a two-part essay about Michaux and the grotesque in the new Action, Yes, continuing into the next issue); another kind of criticism could do interesting things with Edson, but it wouldn't fit in with the model of criticism you see in Goldsmith's little cliffnotes or those cliche essays you get 90 percent of the time at academic conferences that are based on writers subverting gender roles etc.

I tend to appreciate the move away from quietist workshop methods of reading to a more critically aware framework, but I also think there doesn't seem to be much awareness about the implications of this change and the possible influences of the academic setting (I remember a friend of mine telling me that he was not an academic poet merely a poet who happened to work in the academy, but things are not as simple as that).

(OK. I"ve got to go take care of my daughter, but I'll try to get somewhere in the future.)


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