Monday, March 10, 2008

Thoughts from Spring Break

Here are some thoughts/experiences I had during spring break, as Joyelle and I traveled to Iowa city and Minneapolis.

- Apparently it is pretentious and off-putting to start one's reading by reading a part of an essay that refers to Deleuze and Guattari and Bakhtin. Apparently this will make the audience think you are a jerk. At least that is what I was told... (The manifesto/essay is forthcoming in Mark Novak's XCP so you can judge for yourself.)

- What is a "difficult poem"? Somebody at the Workshop asked Joyelle how she taught "difficult poems." Charles Bernstein used the same phrase when he spoke at Notre Dame last year. I still don't know what is meant by that.

- The fallacy "Good books end up winning contests" or "good books will in the end be published" is still being spoken, even by intelligent people. This is the most atrocious fallacy I know, since most of my favorite books by people my age remain unpublished while every day I glance through books that are a waste of paper. The very notion that there is a "good" should at this point have been debunked. When asked what this means, most people seem to mean "finished," "uniform," "even" or "ordered." Secondly, contests seldom lead to original books being published - because usually there are "readers" who are instructed to remove books that don't fit a certain normalizing mold.

- Maria Damon and I are still searching for Brian Horihan, who was an undergrad with me at the U of M and one of Maria's students. In his apartment, Brian had a couch, a shelf of Pasolini, Burroughs and various pervy sci-fi, and an aquarium with a snake called Max. Last thing Maria knew, he had graduated with a film degree from UW Milwaukee and was moving to France.If you know a person that fits this description, tell him to contact us.

- When signing a copy of my book for Maria, I accidentally referred to her book Dark End of the Street as Darkness at the Edge of Town. She said she likes Bruce so it was no big deal.

- It was also nice to see John Minczeski, who was my first poetry teacher (My mom enrolled me in a summer camp when I was in 8th grade to keep me out of trouble. According to John I showed up wearing a shirt with Nietzsche's face on it. Apparently nothing's changed...)


Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

9:27 PM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

You also found out that Sinead like McNuggets.

And gourmet meatballs.

And that the 'Big' Mac is a total misnomer.

9:28 PM  
Blogger Sandra Simonds said...

I had a shirt with Mark Twain's head on it.

PS I need yr address ASAP

8:34 AM  
Blogger mark wallace said...

Regarding "difficult poems," I don't think you're going to like the answer.

American college students, if they have had any experience of literature at all (which many of them don't), will usually at a bare minimum understand the idea that literature "tells a story"--although their idea of what a story is may come more from television programs and movies than from literature.

A difficult poem, then, is going to be any poem that doesn't transparently tell a story, because once a poem isn't a story, no one has any idea what it is.

Told you you weren't going to like it.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I always thought those story poems were very difficult.

4:50 PM  

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