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.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

"I feel like a spectator
 of the present. History, help."

- Kaia Sand, Remember to Wave.

That just about sums it up.

Does looking at the past make one feel like a spectator of the present? What is the point of looking at the past, if it doesn't enable/empower you to do something in the present? Is History the agent, or me?

Maybe I look at the past like a train wreck, disgusted but unable to look away (could Benjamin's angel of history have chosen to turn its back on the past? I don't think so.). I hope I am not merely a "history buff," building a Civil War ship in a bottle. In America, "history" is a hobby - hence, the present.

"To those who were held prisoner in the Portland Assembly Center, and to those whose lives were ended or rent by the Vanport flood - to you I acknowledge a responsibility," Sand writes. "Here is one small attempt at addressing that responsibility through committed inquiry, through pedestrian investigation" [in both literal and figurative senses of the word]

Notice that she says "addressing," not "redressing." It's not inquiry in the service of a larger goal to which she is committed (I don't think). And this distinguishes this approach to "docupoetry" [*cringe*] from other poets I admire a great deal, e.g., Muriel Rukeyser, Mark Nowak, Ed Sanders, or Craig Perez, all of whom envision poetry as doing cultural-political work. All of those poets have educated me, which I guess is cultural-political work.

But Sand's attitude is not dissimilar to Susan Howe's in this regard - a kind of psychological/ethical compulsion to "address" the past - acknowledge the dead were alive - but not necessarily to change it (or the present, for that matter). I guess that resonates with me, insofar as I'm trying to write a (poem? multi-genre monstrosity?) about history, personal and national. I have no idea what it will do. But it is an attempt to "address the past." Somehow, that seems apt.