Saturday, April 17, 2004

getting the brush off?

I read an interesting comment on Ron Silliman's blog recently. He says:

"Readers of this blog will know by now that while I am interested in most aspects of the post-avant writing landscape, one sector that I have tended to be less enthusiastic is that segment of retro-avant-gardism that tends to employ new technology in order to generate post-rational texts, ranging from tossing dice to the latest in flash technology. I often feel that such writing is too in love with techné & not with the text, sort of an avant-gardism at all costs strategy that can yield works as lumbering as anything the school of quietude could produce."

OK, different strokes, etc. Though, first of all, 'lumbering' poems occur everywhere, from the most conservative to the most post-avant, language and post-language venues. They're not just the preserve of 'official verse culture', or 'school of quietude', or 'retro-avant-gardism'. We've all seen them, and mostly likely written them ourselves (though if we were 100 per cent wise, never published them).

But I found his further reference to the venues he feels such writers gather rather puzzling. Or am I being picky? (Of course I am.) So, he goes on to say:

"The result is that I tend to approach certain venues – Augie Highland’s Muse Apprentice Guild, the email journal Poethia, Geoffrey Gazta’s BlazeVox, even UbuWeb – with some caution. As I do writers who primarily associate with such locales."

Caution? Are they so scary? I'm being picky because I've been published in a couple of those quarters Ron mentions and my work, though it has flirted with ideas of generating post-rational texts (as he admits his has), isn't primarily concerned with procedures like that. And when I look at the works I and others have had published in, say, Poethia, I see more of a mix of work. Have a look yourself, for instance, see one of my favourites, Mary Rising Higgins's single author issue or those by Susan Schultz or Sheila Murphy. Indeed, my good self - might as well give it a plug. Consider some of the poems there by these poets - Cassie Lewis, MTC Cronin, Harriet Zinnes, Andrew Burke, kari edwards, Catherine Daly, Lawrence Upton, Gerald Schwartz. I could name others as well.

Look, I've given up losing sleep about who likes what but I was a bit exercised by that particular brush off and wanted to say it, on the record, that you don't need to be cautious when looking at any of the above venues. They have a certain bent, which is as it should be, but do not need caveats of 'caution - only for certain poets' ringed around them.


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