Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Katy Lederer/Hybrid

Here's a really interesting little interview with Katy Lederer about her work on the small journal Explosive. After a while she starts talking about American Hybrid, which is interesting because I immediately started thinking - from the very first answer - that here was a totally different model of "hybrid" - one that focuses on one person's editorial ideas (aesthetic, geographic etc) on a very local level. And when I berate Kent that I want the discussion to be more specific (as opposed to vast labels like "post-avant" etc), I would include this interview in a piece of writing that is specific. Very interesting.

Lederer doesn't theorize her hybridization project; her answers are more social. And I think that is just as interesting.

But I was actually more intrigued when she does posit a kind of theory of "hybridization":

"It is, in some small part, because of my disappointment with the way the “hybridization” thing panned out (especially during eight years of the Bush administration—my God!) that I ended up writing poetry about my day job at a hedge fund (talk about creative and destructive at once! Talk about the grotesque seductions of cancer!). I wanted to get dirty. I wanted to sin! I thought: I am going to “hybridize” with something as far outside of academic poetry as I can think up."

What this made me think about: Both Cole Swensen and Katy Lederer engage in their "hybrid" projects from Iowa. In Cole's intro to American Hybrid she talks about purifying the language and resisting mass culture etc. And it's exactly the failure of "hybridization" that leads Lederer to want to "get dirty" with money, the market place etc. Hybridization seems to demand the academy as a liminal space - due to geographic dislocation, estrangement from "the community" - but at the same time the academy is portrayed as a failed liminal space, in part - I deduce - because it couldn't deal with Bush, the market place etc.

I'll continue to think about this. Please chip in.


Blogger Providence said...

The academy is the marketplace! Its failure to "deal with" the same needs to be theorized as a familial relation.

Part of the failure will have to do with the medium--which, in all of this socio-stylistic-historico-speculae, tends to be taken for granted. If you look at the conditions for success (by any measure) in the artworld vs. poetryland, you'll see that the marketplace and the media are intimately colluding before it even becomes possible for academic discourse to mitigate. [Sarah Crane's _The Transformation of the Avant-Garde_ is good on this point.]

10:32 AM  
Blogger Jay Thompson said...

Hi Johannes--

Thanks for the "Thermos" link. And thanks, too, a whole year ago, for mentioning Forrest Gander's alternative terminology for the "hybrid" as a possible poetics of the mongrel space, the pre-categorical churn like in the Cambrian explosion or the dawn of the printing press.

Talking with Forrest helped me frame my half of an essay I wrote in collaboration with Michael Theune on the limits of American Hybrid's definition of, and canon-maker investment in, its own term.

Lederer's mutts are so much more interesting than some of Hybrid's chimeras (not many true cross-breedings in that book; a lot of suturing).

So: our beast of an essay will be out soon (pending our editor's thumbs-up)...

2:08 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


Great, let me know when it's out.


5:32 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


Yes, the academy is clearly not existing apart from the marketplace. I think Lederer's statement moves toward a more interesting position.


5:36 PM  

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