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.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Buzz-Words of the Avant-Garde

This one is tougher than the one below, since it’s more like the fish describing the water, given how I read nowadays. But here are some cues that the book of poetry being blurbed is “avant-garde” or “experimental” or “edgy” or unconventional, or whatever buzz-label you will:

- [blurb concentrates on the form of the poetry while giving little indication of the poet’s tone, concerns, etc.]
- [blurb lists a series of concerns and topics that are wildly disparate, to the point of goofiness]
- between _______ and ______: the prose poem and the sacred incantation; the villanelle and the pasquinade; part _____, part _______. ________ meets ______.
- disjunctive [as implicit compliment]; problematize; construct; configures; manipulates; appropriates; displacement
- provocative; idiosyncratic
- vectors; processes; investigations; conceptual
- provocative vectors; conceptual idiosyncracies
- “political” [as implicit compliment; or, even more question-begging:] “social” or “cultural” [or, worse:] “a political intervention”; radical ______; intersections [better yet, interstices] between poetry and politics [or] private and public space
- the nature of language [or nature – or thinking, or any other abstract category that has a “nature”]

That’s the best I could come up with. Like I say, these are all things I like or am interested in, so who am I to say. But has this vocabulary (or the one in the previous post) changed much in the last 30 years? Sometimes I think everyone in the U.S. is too busy to have an aesthetic idea. I know I am . . .

Resolved: “In America, there will always be avant-gardes, b/c America will always be a country town,” vs.
Resolved: “In America, there will always be avant-gardes, b/c America will always be a market society that demands innovation as the only way to distinguish between the relative desirability of cultural products” –
Or: number two b/c of number one? Help me out, here . . .

2 comments:

Benjamin Dean-Cartwright said...

I enjoyed both of these buzz-words posts. They cracked me up. I am 90.2% certain that some of the poets I read avidly in my mid-twenties had blurbs on their books similar to the first ones you described.

Currently, a lot of my time is spent going to poetry readings and feeling like I have a giant horn growing out of the center of my head because I don't like the books with blurbs from the second group you described.

That's hyperbole.

I'm just fine with despising the books I despise and liking the ones I like. I'm thankful that my tastes differ from most of the people I know, because I learn about new books from them, and this prevents me from reading the same things over and over again.

I will say honestly, though, that I've never felt more like a fish out of water than when I moved into this town/scene/school. I moved here trying to stretch myself out of old poetic tastes and habits, and then encountered The Other and said "oh shit! oh shit! not this!" (What the hell? Lacan?! What is he doing here? He's everywhere. I moved our couch and he was sitting behind it eating a bag of pretzels)

My current position is one of not liking that which surrounds the scene near me and not wanting to return to what I used to love. I distrust both of these things. Leaving the country for awhile is going to be very good for me.

Joseph Harrington said...

See what happens when you leave the provincialism of the west coast for the flesh-pots of kansas??

I can sympathize (as some previous posts in these pages indicate) - false dichotomies everywhere. A lot of people feel compelled to be soulful or disjunctive b/c that's what they think they have to do to sell. Whatever.

At least Lacan wasn't hiding between the cheeks of the fireplace.