Saturday, February 07, 2009

American Hybrids (2)

One obvious point I missed in my previous post: How absurd is it to see someone like Alice Notley as a hybrid of language poetry and quietist lyrics? Utterly absurd.

Not only does her work precede both of those "camps," it also has very very little to do with either. What this model does is make ahistorical two historical tendencies (both appearing in the 1970s).

There's also something unfortunate about seeing certain language poets as "compromised" and others as "uncompromised."

Further, why is compromise so important? Why is it important to see Notley etc as compromises of these two camps?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What we have here is the desire of all bureaucracies to control conflict and ensure the smooth functioning of the bureaucracy. The bureaucracy, in this case, is the "representative anthology." Bill Knott said somewhere that "anthologies are the enemies of poets," and I think he's right; that is, anthologies are the enemies of the differences that make poets distinctive.

7:38 AM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Like any group, it's important to look back historically and see that there are people doing what you want to do, and then incorporate them into your "school"- Ron does this all the time. He has some magical ability to decide who belongs to his Quietism. Didn't Ginsberg attempt to put himself in line with Blake and Whitman? It's all about lineages.

12:23 AM  
Blogger mark wallace said...

Sure, Amish. But isn't the opposite--imagining that you as a writer have no historical influences--just as problematic? Writers claim all the time that "I just do what I do" but still turn out to have traceable influences, even when those influences aren't so easily identified as being from a defined group of writers.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Yeah, you're probably right, Mark: no one writes in any kind of vacuum. Certainly I feel like new lines are created from old ones, but yes, point taken.

8:27 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

But you can get to the point where lineage is everything and that's always too simplistic. Especially because Ron's lineage leaves out foreign literature, and extra-literary influences, history etc. Also: Both Ron and Perloff has the problem of finding the "right" lineage - ie Ashbe.ry's Rimbaud is the "correct" one etc.

The Hybrid anthology seems to me to be a good example of where lineage totally obliterates nuance and historical context.

5:27 AM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Oh yes, I certainly see your point, JoGo: for Ron, it's ALL about lineages and influences. It's not about "interesting," but rather about who is doing work that fits a mold.

"History is a nightmare" etc. etc.

I'll have to check that anthology out.

6:15 AM  

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