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The Point of the Practice?

Defining terms, or “poetics taxonomy”

People debate words. I’m used to arguments on what counts as poetry and haiku and the resulting bruised toes or public accept anyone’s self-nominated place and self-defining inclusion while no longer associating with that part of the fold, or else trying to educate that way of doing poetry into the right way.

[Sidenote, speaking of haiku, an article on the day in the life of tinywords, a haiku journal, via GotPoetry News]

Defining any word for forever, realistically, is trying to can the ocean to stop storm waves. The larger the population, the larger number of people who can get quorum and diversify definitions and affirm each other and go off to their own colony of poetry.

As with language itself, isolated small populations grow and into accents, dialects, short-cut idioms, eventually becoming a whole other language. How to keep it mutually comprehensible? Does insisting on a Queen’s English for poetry tie everyone together and keep a united empire of literature or just prevent evolution while suppressing creative forces of change? Who gets to be the queen and who has to learn to understand the Queen’s Poetry while speaking their local poetries? Royalists of the canon have no quibble with there being a queen and their careers go on the same. Others want revolution to become the Head of State of Poetry themselves. Others refuse to recognize that anyone should be more recognizable than any other and want a flattening of hierarchies of long tail effect by resenting big names and deifying small names. It’s a variant of raising the embattled Common Man as romantic ne’er do well hero. But what happens when Common Man starts to get recognition. You can’t be an anti-success to the degree of becoming successful. That breaks the model.

Both models of is based on status thru limited access. Not everyone can be the Queen’s Poetry of state addresses and transcendent hope of the right binary triumphing in the just the right level of delicacy of subtle dance thru meter and chance resonance with a wide group of mainstream of the street.

Not everyone can be the rebel at the cutting edge of syntax, subverting ideological systems of all, one non-phrase at a time.

Both are niche-based. Each engage the idea of establishment from one end of the stick. Is vispo trying to overturn the empire, carry on as if empire didn’t exist, running on both sides of the imaginary fence?

In the comments on the post at Ed Baker in April there was a discussion of what fits under the umbrella.

Conrad DiDiodato: Visual poetry, descendent of 20s Concrete, Dada & Fluxus poetics, is by nature an amorphous beast: by nature designed to stand any establishmentarian notion of Art on its head.

Bob Grumman: Well maybe. I think it’s “just” a fusion of poetry (words) and graphics. Which bothers people I call “segreceptuals”–for segregating their modes of perception from one another and thus being unable to appreciate an art that is both visual and linguistic.

Conrad: It’s in spirit and practice anti-art.

Bob: Possibly for some. Certainly not for me. For me, it’s one very effective road to Beauty, hence, an art.

*

Why are we doing poetry the way we are? Maybe it’s a conscious decision to look for new questions or new answers. We’re doing it for ourselves as individuals, to find that groove in ourselves, no matter what the outward look of the end or transitional point results.

Ok, maybe we could compromise and find the overlap of gratifying ourselves and stretching to please another and explore but that’s still about ourselves. Maybe we do it to avoid ease, or to create ease, or to be anti-group or to be group, but the impetus is internal.

*

[I don’t get any of it. I’m in a maelstrom of confusion; have been for three sessions of Influency now. But I keep coming back. Stubborn. Stub-born. Born stubbing my toe? Born. Stubbing. Born.]
~ Chantal Perrot on Meredith Quartermain at influency salon

Meredith Quartermain on Michael Boughn:

“Blaser, Boughn’s teacher and life-long friend, saw that the problem of certainties is in the way we use language,[…] We go wrong, he said, when we use words to dominate the real and when we rely on violently repressive grammatical relations in sentences; in that language, we see only dead reflections of our tiny selves.

Instead, he called for breaking up conventional syntax, or relations between words, so that another powerful force inherent in language itself—“an immense untapped laughter” (The Fire 30) —can speak in the poetry. […] disturb conventional grammar and particularly its subordinative relations.” Blaser explains:

The statement I drive the car is much less interesting than what the car is doing. A key, silver-silk, gas, burns, gears, motion, outer parts, wheels, hubs, spokes, fellies, tires, Fortuna, distances: I drive. Perhaps Amor hitches a ride.

The first example is arranged according to hypotaxis, the “subordinative expression” of what is going on in the sentence—I’m in charge. The second is arranged according to a kind of parataxis, one thing beside another without “expression of their syntactic relation.” (The Fire 98)

That’s the best explanation for the mechanism of how messing with syntax works to add up to more than a burden of a list. It’s not what you’re doing. It’s what you’re not doing.

Related posts:

  1. string practice not theory Dan Waber’s Strings at vispo.com. Heavens. What he can convey so simply and beautifully…...

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