Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

"The Avant-Garde Tradition"

This is one of my favorite phrases. Who coined it? Ron Silliman? Marjorie Perloff? Anyway, I trust s/he had tongue at least partially in cheek. But I think both would agree that some versions of the "Old" avant-garde are still alive, if not well. Which I guess is not avant or arriere, but more like being a subculture, like the Rainbow Nation or Society for Creative Anachronism. Which is fine with me, as long as you don't really think it's 1967 or 1215.

Three addenda to the list in the previous post:
- self-image as intellectually/ethically superior (if not salvific) remnant community (read: classing off)
- heroically nihilistic irony; deadly serious levity
- you gotta have the right clothes.

Of course, this is the worst of the self-conscious worst. There are some young'uns doing unconventional work with a self-deprecating humor about it. Or who don't worry about being original or unique when they write or paint (I can't help but like Brenda Coultas). But, paradoxically, it does seem as though being avant is "in" - that is, it is indeed becoming institutionalized, which is what always happens. It's not a matter simply of the "poets of quietude" defecting (or passing), but of younger poets choosing to specialize as Experimentalist.

Then there is the inevitable populist backlash; if you don't believe me, come to Kansas. [for an account of the previous cycle, in the early part of the last century, see Poetry and the Public]

BTW, it's "soi-disant," Joe, NOT "soi-dit" (tho personally, I like that version better).

And, yes, the implication is indeed that I am a capitalist running-dog. Anyone who owns their own home (read: mortgage), and is not about to be foreclosed upon, is now officially a capitalist running-dog - at least until the economy starts looking up.


Ron said...

I'm perfectly happy to concede that fluxus is dada for boring people. Yes, all the old avant forms linger on, as do all the old PRE-avant forms as well. Poetry can overwhelmed by these modes of nostalgia -- it's the Dutch Elm Disease of verse. But fortunately, it ain't all there is.


Joseph Harrington said...

Fortunately, indeed.

It's interesting to me, too, that the "New Poetry" of the 1910s is (still) the Old (middlebrow) Poetry of the 21st c. If it were cars, they'd go broke.

Maybe Fluxus is boring dada.

Kris H. said...

Maybe you won't even see this...but I refuse to be a capitalist running dog, even though I not only had a mortgage, I paid it off.

I might be a bitch, though...

Joseph Harrington said...

No, "Kris," you're absolutely not a bitch (tho you may be a turtle). Thanks for visiting!

As to mortgages, you're obviously not thinking like a 20-something avant-garde poet with a trust fund . . .