Friday, September 3, 2010

I've been inolved with an interesting discussion on Steven Waling's blog, Brando's Hat, which started on Todd Swift's blog, specifically, on his post on Seamus Heaney, quoted below. Waling asked the question "[why do] different people ... appreciate different things". The discussion then revolved around why some people prefer innovative poetry, others more conventional poetry. I was accused by Steven of thinking myself "better than" readers of mainstream poetry because I said that enjoyment of innovative / experimental / avant-garde type poetry was a sign of increasing reader sophistication. I stand by that position, and I don't think it implies a value-judgement. I argued that innovative poetry vs conventional poetry was analagous to modern jazz vs standard pop music. some things are an acquired taste, and to acquire a taste is to become more sophisticated. An appreciation of standard pop music doesn't need to be acquired, as it's the dominant form in our culture; we absorb it from an early age. For the same reason, one could argue, an appreciation of more conventional poetry, such as Heaney's also doesn't need to be acquired; that doesn't mean it's better or worse, just that it's the dominant form. I don't know whether my argument is right, but it's an interesting line of thought. Maybe the best way to appreciate any poetry is to approach it with a completely open mind. That's difficult to do, of course, but we need to try. Maybe afficionados of innovative poetry (or, in Andrew Duncan's phrase, "art poetry") - and I include myself here - may have to re-acquire the taste for more conventional poetry to perhaps discover insights they didn't realise were there.


John B-R said...

Hell, Alan, you ARE better than other people!

Personally, I now* know why I prefer the kind of work I do: for me it IS an ethical issue. It's because innovative poetry is much more likely to "abjure the language of mastery." (to quote myself)

*after reading in Sarah Kofman's *Smothered Words*

That's something it never occurs to the Walcotts or Heaneys or dare I add the Billy Collinses etc etc to do. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that "conventional poetry" worships at the feet of the language of mastery, and hence at the feet of masters, and hence ... their big thing is masters and mastery ... and ... well ... that ain't MY politics and I ain't gonna prop up that world.

Ed Baker said...

well I am certainly following these every-other words..
(and I will certainly like-wise google

"abjure" however, am working on a new run-of po-ems..

here are a cpl of parts (first drafts, mind y'all) of what cannot not be abjured away
by any Fly-by-Knight Master (Academic) Poet:



she said not so much as a beg
as that of typical command of a

woman in the opened window
leans into her owned words her
letters generated passed through

and through the opening heart/mind
a simultaneity comes and goes to
-wards center "and what if your cent

-er has no circumference?" My words.

letters. poems, drawings means to and end
fall into her heaves to reach me down into
some momentary .... bliss her mouth a little

open moist heaves again these heaves she
illicits solicits posits this incredible want de:
sire is this tongue going in is not the only thing




same-said feel to cut-through
Sun Young de:mands rise/fall into
out-stretched Mountain Valley be

low the horizon ... Her!


She. She. SHE! Opens her mouth. Her
mouth. A little open. A song. a psalm. A
prayer. Lamentation's Song To Amsterdam ... She. Sings.

Dances. she Dances the Round dance, The Moist Dance: She sings AND

Sings and dances simultaneously

Dances one dance with me:


Drum to beat on stone moon

on full girl older

now change is inevitable and... frightening -

"Olde Man, Why does love always hurt?"

all adequate pluck is a magic of sorts it s

twanger strung taught teaches that

"Everyone from can as you do in dreams,"

I re:ply.

( title of book?

Anonymous said...

Louis Armstrong has been quoted as once referring to BeBop as "Chinese Music" - so from his perspective it seems to have been substantially different from the work he was producing... but who among us doesn't have the Hot Fives and Sevens right next to Charlie Parker in their collections?

"... as I say comparisons are odious, but what we're sayin now is true..."

Japhy Ryder