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Tuesday, May 09, 2006
This may appeal to you only if you're interested in writing or if you're a writer. I'm just letting you know before you invest your time reading the entry. See how nice I am?

Another interesting article was featured on Poetry Foundation. This time, Jeffrey McDaniel wrote about a program at Columbia University in New York City that featured Camille Paglia.

Here are parts of the story that grabbed my attention.

"'Poets want to be revered by professors: Jorie Graham, for example. Maybe she had some talent early on,' Paglia continues. This elicits a big laugh from the audience. 'She is like a mirror to the professors; they look into her and see themselves.' More wild laughter. This audience loves to see Paglia rip into someone and draw blood: the meaner the jab, the louder the applause.

Jorie-bashing is a little too en vogue these days, but I'm interested in this crisis of an audience. Who exactly are poets writing for? Why shouldn't they write for other poets who are professors? What is the incentive not to do that? Isn't that the main audience today? Aren't other poets and professors the ones giving out the prizes? If poets don't write for professors, then who should they write for? An audience they aren't even sure exists? If a poem falls over in a forest, and there's no one there to . . ."


Now, I could go into my own Jorie bashing since I witnessed her atrocious behavior once at a reading, but what I'm really interested in is McDaniel's question: "Who exactly are poets writing for?" Let's replace the word "poets" with "writers" and ask the same question.

Long Division and I have had an ongoing conversation about experimental writers. I think she believes she won't ever convince me that experimental writing is important. That's untrue, though. I believe it's important, and her reasons have convinced me to delve more into some writers that I feel are "too out there." Much like my previous music question, I wanted some in-depth reasons as to why certain things are considered genius. Long Division delivered, and I am complying.

I take issue with McDaniel's questions, "Aren't other poets and professors the ones giving out the prizes? If poets don't write for professors, then who should they write for?" Is he suggesting that if there is no audience outside a pure academic circle that writers should not even publish their works? What is the purpose of publishing? Self gratitude? If you know beforehand that no one will read or understand your work, would you still publish it?

Another part of the story that I'd like to comment on:

"Paglia continues to rip into the present: 'Nothing is going to last from this generation of major poets. Most of the poetry written today is in dead English.' She argues that there's a need for poems written in working-class American vernacular..."


I only half agree with Paglia about this. Her generalization that nothing will last is, of course, short-sighted and was probably only spoken to make her sound cool with the audience she won over with her Jorie-bashing. She says poems should be written in working-class American vernacular. I can agree with that to a certain extent; however, there are already several poets of this generation of major poets working in American vernacular such as Billy Collins and Ted Kooser. By saying nothing of this generation of poets will last, and by stating her American venacular opinion, I'm not exactly sure what she considers good, American poetry or writing.

I'm currently reading her book Break, Blow, Burn, and I'm really enjoying it. I'm noticing, though, that a majority of the poems she writes about (and you can tell she truly loves them) are poems that were considered "experimental" when they were first published. Still, they weren't so experimental to lose touch with the intended auidence: the common reader. The writers practically had one foot in pushing the envelope and one foot in what the period readers would understand.

Song of the Day
"Heat of the Moment" by Asia
posted by pimplomat @ 12:54 PM  
3 Comments:
  • At Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, Blogger Ondine said…

    I'd love to hear your jorie story. I have none, really. Only that I would see her walking around town all the time, with all that crazy hair. That's what I remember about her.

     
  • At Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, Blogger pimplomat said…

    She had just one the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and she was giving a reading at SMU. The school newspaper had a photographer there for this PUBLIC event. After the photographer took a few pictures, Jorie turned to her and curtly said, "Are you going to do that all night?"

    Then when Jorie started to read her poems, several audience members opened their books to read along with her. She turned to them and said, "Please don't read along. I hate when people do that."

    The chill in the air was an artic degree.

     
  • At Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, Blogger pimplomat said…

    I should really proofread my comments before I post them.

     
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