questions, questions, questions - lyrically speaking

Some hot discussion on the 'new lyric' in Australian poetry over at Pam Brown's new place for talkin' about poetry.

Questions Pam put up for discussion:

  • How much does the concept of the new Aussie lyric have to do with formalism?
  • How different is this new Aussie lyric from the earlier notion of lyric as an instrument of personal expression?
  • Is the new Aussie lyric consciously engaged in thought and its processes in language?
  • Is this re-emergence of the lyrical a trend against/an escape from recent movements and influences in poetry?
  • Could the new lyrical engage with notions of authenticity (originality/faking), appropriation (copying) involving the persona of the poet?

Someone added an extra question backchannel which Pam placed upfront:

"I wondered if an extra question could be added (which you imply up front), about the gendering of this new eruption."

and Pam proposed a further question in the comments:

"I wonder why there is never any wit, anything funny or (dreaded term) humorous in the poems of other new lyricists?"

The debate has become somewhat sidetracked by discussions of prizes and awards (yours truly confesses to have been a part of that) but maybe the comments will again look at questions, questions, questions.


Paul said…
To what extent is it a poetry of pretention and affectation concerned primarily with creating an idealised portrait-by-implication of the poet? What is the point of their poetry? What function does it serve? What is it designed to do apart from proving their cleverness, their sensitivity, their manners, their education? It is a poetry of ego and glorification of the self and it is served up by beautiful young women to their professors in return for... I hate 'literature', Jill Jones, with a passion which grows everyday, the more I know about it.
Jill Jones said…

I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at. Your questions assume there's a whole bunch of young women poets writing a certain kind of poetry (well-mannered?) under the auspices of older (male?) teachers. I'm not sure where this idea comes from.

In fact, there's a whole bunch of poeple of various ages and genders writing poetry - they may be enrolled in a course of some kind related to writing, or they may well not be. They may be writing on a bus, or in an office, or late at night after the kids have gone to bed.

You seem to move from an assumption about a particular kind of poet (should she exist - why she?) and/or poetry which you don't like (fair enough, there's plenty to dislike out there), to 'literature' in general?

On the gender thing, I wonder why you're suggesting that it is a problem that women might be clever, or educated, or that they, instead of being self-effacing, might flex their egos? Is ego a dirty word? Would you give the same serve to male poets and their writing, I wonder?

It was a women, Marianne Moore, who wrote:


I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
all this fiddle.
Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine.

etc ...

She wanted "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,".
Paul said…
I was continuing on from Pam's point about the majority of the prize winning Aussie lyricists being women, Jill.
"Could the new lyrical engage with notions of authenticity (originality/faking), appropriation (copying) involving the persona of the poet?"
I was also addressing this question, about the poet as construct, the function of certain types of poetry being merely to demonstrate the construct which is the poet and so on.
I should have remained silent, as usual.
Jill Jones said…
Sure, OK, now I get it - that reference to the things Pam said. It seemed in your initial comment that you were pushing the idea further and generalising to say all female poets (in Australia?) writing the lyric - and you could debate what that really is - were too clever for their own good, or something like that. That's something I'd take issue with, if only because it is a huge generalisation, let alone some of the other implications about gender. And especially if you were aiming this directly at me.

But, yes, some poets do write according to some kind of construct, some kind of view they have about what a poet is. Is that what you're saying?
Paul said…
Yes they do, and I do my best never to aim my comments at anyone in particular, just at certain types of poetry, not even at certain types of poets, you see, since the poet is an artificial construct. But I could blabber on all day about my theories, Jill Jones, I have done many times. I know most people will disagree with me, so I don't bother. That is another of my beliefs you see, all theory is just excuses for past practice, fun perhaps to create elegant constructions of thought, but largely irrelevant, the work of academics, not of poets.
Paul said…
I don't think Pam likes my comments, Jill. She keeps deleting the post I comment on. Perhaps Marcuse is a bit too cannon and not enough canon. It seems no-one on the inside of Australian Poetry is much interested in the observations of someone on the outside. "We will have no loquacious bad boys in Australian Poetry. That is our last word." The longer it goes on the funnier and more ridiculous it seems to me and the people who follow me.

Anyway, I have found the perfectly perfect, every single word, quote.

Bob Dylan on The New Aussie Lyricism -
"Banker's nieces seek perfection,
expecting all the gifts that wise men bring."

Have a fantabulous day, Jill Jones. Not all serious poetry is serious, as Australia's most widely read poet once said.
Jill Jones said…
I'd be asking Pam about why she deleted the post. My reading is that she was thinking 'on the go' then revising, and it was nowt to do with your response. But, you see, Paul, I don't know for sure, so do ask her.

A few of the other posters also deleted their own posts. I don't know why for sure.

You know, some of us have read Marcuse. 'Repressive tolerance', co-option and all that. Don't we all partake in this, in some ways large and small? For instance, you quote the Bobster. Now he's doing a Christmas album. I guess it's not all serious, seriously.

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