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.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sui Wha?

Nicholas Ripatrazone has posted an enlightened appeal for more literary magazines in creative-writing classrooms (over at Luna Park ) - and for students to read them before they submit work to them.

But one part tripped me up. He recalls having stumbled upon some poems by a novelist in a lit mag and comments, "Something about such genre jumping seemed freeing; I would learn that such freedom was endemic to literary magazines."

Endemic? Now, novelists have written poems ever since there have been novels - and there are novels and plays, etc., by poets, memoirs by playwrights, etc. And it's not like literary journals are en masse including "other" or "trans-genre" as a generic category (save with some shining exceptions like Hotel Amerika or Fringe). It's still the Big Three, when it comes to officially approved genres. So, I have to wonder what the excitement here is all about.

A few lines later it becomes clear what Ripatrazone means: "The poem had felt like prose . . . ." Well, in my view, there are way, way too many poems that "feel like" prose - i.e., that interrupt the cadences of prose with arbitrary and unnecessary line breaks. To me, that's not freeing, that's irritating. And the fact that a novelist can do it doesn't make it any less irritating.

I think maybe what's at issue here is the (unconscious?) co-optation of the term "mixed-genre" (or "multi-genre") by the literary establishment. Instead of meaning a text that combines the conventions of, say, poetry and fiction, verse + prose, it comes to mean (get this) - a novelist who also writes poems!

In other words, a term describing a literary trend that is, if not new, certainly coming into its own is re-purposed to describe something that has been going on for hundreds of years. One could come up with a worse definition of ideology.