Tuesday, July 19, 2005

School of quietude north?

Is there a School of Quietude North? (The School of Quietude is Ron Silliman's tag for lyric, conservative, traditionalist poetry.) Is Canada currently suffering from a dominance of SoQ style poetics? Which Canadian poets fit this mold?

66 comments:

dfb said...

ok - i'll start - i love nameing name:

George Murray, Paul Vermeersch, Zach Wells, all theose Montreal goof’s – Solway, Starnino and their lackies – JPF – you would know there names better than i would. basically the whole Art Bar crowd here in toronto, George Elliott Clarke, pretty much anyone Rob Mclennan talks about. Maybe Rob too.

love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

I dunno about Vermeersch, Clarke, or mclennan. I've actually never read Murray. But isn't traditionalist zealotry at the heart of SoQ poetry? I don't quite see V, C, & m as traditionalists. Is the SoQ question one of form or content? Is an SoQ poet one who writes sonnets about gardening? I've written a sonnet using the language of R2-D2 (which I'm sure you'd hate, daniel) and I've seen some interesting free verse poems about gardening. Actually one of my favourite books of CanPo of all time is Robert Kroetsch's Seed Catalogue... I dunno.

dfb said...

sure all three of those guys are pushing poetry absolutly nowhere - i don’t think it’s about subject matter that make them SoQN but intention (“don’t rock that boat”) – and i’m not saying this to be a put down (i’m rather fond of rob – but he knows how i feel about his writing) - rob works very hard (mostly for rob) and he sure published allsorts – but his main thrust is not avant, and his main interest is not advant – and despite his use of lower case his writing is moving side ways at best.

V, M, and E (there are so many others too) again they cover ground that’s best covered by high school poetry – maybe they writing is with different words but fuck man it’s stuff you learn from cohen records that your big sister had

love
dfb

Daniel Sendecki said...

Well, I propose we adopt the moniker SOQ>49 for the School of Quietude North. It's hip.

Hmmmm... A good way to start a thread, by naming names in a movement that doesn't own up to ever existing in the first place.

Does that hold true north of the border, too? So would the aforementioned poets name themselves as such? Do they really take up the questions and poetries expressed by the SOQ outlined by Silliman?

What places someone in the SOQ anyway? My rudimentary grasp of the SOQ that Uncle Ron talks about is a poetic that is over(t)ly demonstrative and holds yr. hand while walking you to the gold at the end of the rainbow.

Need longer to ruminate. What I do know is that my bookcase is populated with all of the poets dfb names (with the exception of Starnino--will have to go pick up some tonight).

But I'd have to say that the poets above, with my limited reading, are a tossed salad of sorts; they offer another potential.

To me, however, the poetry I know from these poets is less anecdotal than your average New Yorker stuff and in many cases seems to reconcile some of the aims of what passes as mainstream poetry with some of the more avant stuff. Like Stockwell Day in a wetsuit.

I guess the 'best' poets of any school are always the ones pressed in around the margins, anyway.

dfb said...

holds your hand while walking you…

endlessly nowhere you haven’t been 100 times before that’s it - i have always maintain that i want to be surprised - and the ones i mentioned above - in the brief (and not so brief (i’ve been stuck in readings by GCE more times than i need)) look that i will give these guys work - they are hand holding ever so sweetly until they deliver me their genuine heartfelt insight ----

puke

dfb

farty wendy said...

oh say...a blog...with the not bein down with boring shit. can i say that it's poss that poetry itself actually sucks, is bad poetry and what are you gonna do? poetry sucks. can you even imagine poetry that doesn't suck? maybe, but it's prob'ly not doin what these poets are doin'. prob'ly not poetry. poetry is su-uh-uh-kin.

ryan said...

I agree. Poetry SUCKS! (I have a t-shirt that expresses just this point). We should all just stop writing poetry. I know I have ;)

ryan

dfb said...

i guess poetry suck if your only reading SoQN - and i guess that's what they taught FW- but if (s)he actually managed to look around at the thousands and thousands of books and stuff being made outside her little CLASSroom, just laying around she might have realized that it was her teachers were wrong, poetry don't suck, it’s just the canon that she’s sucking.

love
dfb

farty wendy said...

you see? clearly an soq response. when poetry matters to you, its `state', its `function' or the condition of scholarship, you are quivering with status quo envy.
you are a teacher.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to take dfb seriously when he's "nameing names" when there are so many grammar/spelling errors. "theose" Montreal "goof's"? "there" instead of "their"? "absolutly" and "advant"? What does "poetry don't suck it's just the canon that she's sucking" mean, exactly?

Perhaps dfb should have paid more attention in "theose" CLASSrooms.

Anonymous said...

If what you're trying to do is weaken Daniel's argument by pointing out his grammar—please don't, this is a very weak rhetorical device. There's a big difference between objecting to something on the grounds that his logic is flawed and objecting to something on aesthetic grounds, which is what seems to be happening here.

Could his slaphappy use of grammar be intentional? Maaaaaaaaaybe.

Perhaps you should post under your own name? Or is that glass house not comfortable when its got your address on it?

Anonymity is annoying ain't it?

--Anonymous, author of some of the world's greatest pieces of literature.

Anonymous said...

i always thot the plural of goofs was gooves.

;-)

dfb said...

neither teacher nor student (got g12 and dysleixia) - self taught and not interested in anything written by people with no names


best you read more and then come out and play kiddies i'll waiting --i'm all ways waiting for little lit fuckers to grow up - always waiting

love
dfb

Anonymous said...

ok the - to perhaps focus the arguement again on the idea of a dominance in canadian poetry of a conservative, traditional poetic - i have seen arguemnts supporting this idea for quite a while now - even within bodies of work by some authors (for instance davey's and wershler-henry's arguement abt the focus within Nichol criticism on the 'normal' text fo the martyrology) but anyway - i woudl also suggest that anonymous posters "out" themselves so that we can discuss matters face-to-face (or at least name-to-name), eh?
--derek

Daniel Sendecki said...

Names! Yes! But we all have to be aware of the implications of the categorizing or labelling any of the poets we are going to discuss. We've framed the SoQ in such a negative light, that you would swear its hurtful to be called SoQ as opposed to being called a language poet. This could go downhill fast.

I'm rereading books on my shelf a la Vermeesch, mclennan, et al.

Have we come any closer concerning what it means to be of SoQ is "traditionalist zealotry" at the heart of it all? Is it really a case of "pushing poetry absolutly nowhere".

I know a lot of experimentalists, vispoets and the like that push poetry nowhere, and in fact drag it backwards a few decades. They are not SoQ though.

dfb said...

as far as i can see this is going nowhere because everyone is standing around waiting to react instead of saying something - even if they might be wrong! – typical student thinking –

frankly being called a langpo – is as bad as being called SoQN – both involve following some rules (written or not) for some reason that i doubt the writer knows why anymore – it’s seems to be all about getting into the middle ground – you know the crappy jo urnals (here you can only imagine what i’m talking about)

Go
To the root of the matter
Get laid
Have a friend
Do anything
But be a free fucking agent.

--Jack Spicer, Admonitions

Daniel Sendecki said...

I could never be accused of worrying about being wrong. It's the position with which I'm most familiar!

Okay let's name names. Vermeesch first. In his poetry ("Burn" is all I have) the first person singular surfaces again and again in his poetry and Vermeesch seems to have a preoccupation with unwrapping the narrator as subject; which seems typical of neo-formalist SOQ types -- correct me if I am wrong. What's lacking in Vermeesch's poetry, which exludes him from typical SOQN (or SoQ>49) is that, and I don't know how to phrase it, but mmmm... the continual search for epiphanies, which characterizes SOQ. Yes there's a lot of hand-holding going on in Vermeesch's work but a lot of Vermeesch's concluding lines are understated, mundane, and sort of defeat what was going on earlier in the work. I like that juxtaposition.

I'm at work presently, so can't pull out any examples, but will this weekend.

I dug this out from past notes, it's attributed to Henry Gould, but I forget from where -- probably Silliman's Blog. Gould contends that the SoQ/post-avant divide is bound to fail becuase it is simply, and I quote:

"us vs. them" paranoia as convenience. Why? Because literature, art and poetry are rooted in fundamental ethical and aesthetic criteria. Inner law. And every work of art is an imperfect attempt to express that law . . . the effort to promote certain forms of art and poetry on a rhetorical-collective-political basis (by which certain literary groups and trends are inherently and historically "superior" to others) is bound to fail. Because art finds its sanction only through the art itself, and collective ideologies and networks are only forms of intellectual inside trading. They corrupt the essential "work" of art -- which is to express the ethical and aesthetic problem in its own original and irreducible terms.

End quote.

dfb said...

i just looked up some of PV work on line, found 6, – and each and everyone of them reaches for a very lame “epiphanies” - take a look at the last line – often cut out from the stanza before (a breath line- so we can savor the reveal).

http://www.library.utoronto.ca/canpoetry/vermeersch/poems.htm

they sure are all at home in the narrative and the sure do a lot of hand holding and explaining along the way lest we get lost in-between stanzas. They remind me bad short short stories –

Is that a what SoQN means?

Love

dfb

asthma_boy said...

Way to do your homework, daniel. I don't know if there is a "continual search for epiphanies" in SoQ poetry so much as there is a guarantee of previously established epiphanies. The lyric I appears in my work from time to time. Maybe I'm a part time SoQer.

I'd like to think I'm a "free fucking agent" though.

dfb said...

That’s a good point – “there is a guarantee of previously established epiphanies” especially if they are from a dead poet who “EVERYONE” knowledge’s is a “GREAT”

“crumbs of the giants” as my poem school

(specking of which I saw Zwells read a year or so ago and he read a al purty (a really fucking stupid ap poem) poem - just to make sure we didn’t think he was a queer or anything – cuz you know it was in toronto. PV (and lot’s of others) can’t go long with out pointing out that they are the spiritual butt boys of the “real poets”

love

dfb
(only you can know if you are a free agent)

asthma_boy said...

and DS, it's not us vs. them for me. i don't consider myself post-avant or anything like that. i was just curious is SoQ could be applied to CanPo. I think it can to a certain extent. Is the terminology necessarily contigent on its "opposite"? I dunno...

Daniel Sendecki said...

Well, way to go U of T for posting six PV poems that fly in the face of what I said. "A Fat Kid Watches a Snake Eat a..." though is interesting (although less so outside of the context of the book that it comes from) for what it does to the narrator as subject. Unless I've been reading PV incorrectly, the Fat Kid is, of course, PV himself; the poem is confessional. I find the closing couple of lines "There isn't much time, he'd hoped there would be, there should be… / the fat kid / looks for a stick" to be understated and not that gushingly relevatory. But I digress...

I don't think of this in terms of us vs them, either. Although dfb seems to be framing the idea that SoQ is based upon a model of progress, or a lack therof...

The irony of course is that the poets that I know dfb digs -- the Steve Venrights, jwcurrys, have been carving paths across the landscape of (canadian) poetry that I love.

Hmmm. Exactly what was my point... none....

Anonymous said...

but to understate the moment where the revelation should be is part of the same game...the understatement is a nostalgic sigh.

dfb said...

oh it’s me vs them for sure. it’s me vs everyone – in the writing game. my gang was disbanded years ago.

now think about rob m - can he write a poem with out dropping a name of another poem – it’s like DWH of the middle (class brow) poet world – also rob and his essay on BF2 – is more about what the middle poets are doing and very little about what those who move forward are doing (and not very well thought out – to call queen street quarterly the “best” at anything is to prove one has a limited grasp).

rob plays in the avant OTHER only because that is where the real small press action is. someone (who cares) should do an index of rm poems that drop names and to whom – then you’ll see his crazy love of newlove/bowering types.

it’s best to read these guys occasionally in an old BC monthly, not in a watered down modernist pant 30 years after it’s interesting.

love

dfb

asthma_boy said...

i'm well aware of rob's newlove love. i wonder about your recent nastiness toward dwh and christian bok though... these two are among my favourite poets and i can't see where your hate for them comes from.

Anonymous said...

"it’s me vs everyone – in the writing game. my gang was disbanded years ago."

no special hatred needed, seems like.

dfb said...

sorry it is not recent nastiness - i just desided to share it recently - i doubt if either of them would find as a surprize- we don't talk much

love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

i deleted the vulgarity. i just don't understand. i probably shouldn't have asked.

dfb said...

sorry - you deleted the remark that i thought DWH had unlawful contact with the departed poetic body of bpnichol

ok – your page – just want to be sure of the rules.

asthma_boy said...

just didn't think it was a critically insightful comment on Nicholodeon.

dfb said...

i think it is the only critically insightful comment one can make on Nicholodeon

as a series of broadsides (free handouts) - it was mildly interesting- a joke and bp enjoyed a good joke. but as book it is just a bloated monster of theft and plagiarism.

Anonymous said...

honestly, i think it'd be refreshing if one of these blogs just let the fur fly once in a while...

dfb said...

JPF - a quick question - have you looked at much concrete and or visual poetry - or were you just dazzled by the pictures in Nicholodeon.

a serious question

with love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

daniel,

you can't help but be a bitch, eh?

i have looked at a fair amount of concrete and vizpo, but i'm no scholar of it. my favourite dwh poem in nicholodeon is grain. (for obvious reasons). it's a post-prairie poem.

my fave dwh book is the tapeworm foundry -- i use it in my workshops and the students always respond to it. its possibilities, its humour...

moving on....

dfb said...

yea i thought so

"but the kids love it"

alway the best way to judge something - you should try this rapper called M & M - he also speaks the voice of todays youth

doubt i'll see you soon

dfb

asthma_boy said...

actually, daniel, my poetry workshop students are adults and they are very well read and very intelligent.

think before you post.

Anonymous said...

i thought dfb half interesting for a moment. but he's like so many you see. bitter long-in-the-tooth marginals suffering from lifelong gouty overproductivity.

Anonymous said...

once again i wish the anonymous posters would have half the guts taht JPF and DfB have in their discussions by stating their opinions from out of the veil of anonymity (perhaps i am hitting my head against the wall tho) ... but anyway - Daniel, i HAVE read and studied quite a bit of concrete and visual poetry, and while there are problems with darren's book, there are also some very interesting positivies - one of which is that it increasing the profile of a marginalized form, another is that YES it did um ... "fuck the corpse" of a canadian poetry icon, and by doing so, i th ink, exposed some of the falicies involved in bpNichol criticism (one of which being taht his work was beyond critique or reproach) ... i also rank it rather high for involving inself with a whole series of sub-sets of concrete in a single book - for instance photocopy degeneration & manipulation, found, translation, dry-transfer, collage, absurd, etc etc (AND theft & plagiarism - perhaps poetically engaged?)... and "the kids love it" too. not a bad accomplishment in a single (not perfect by a longshot) volume.
-- derek

Anonymous said...

derek who?

Anonymous said...

my apologies: my name is derek beaulieu. and you? who might you be?

dfb said...

Derek – I’ll do this by point

“one of which is that it increasing the profile of a marginalized form”

No not true – if anything DWH work is another really uninteresting version of concrete poetry – much more in line the steal and burn approach of a beth learn or bill keith – and i doubt that book would be remembered in the same way as a High C or a Criss Cross. visual poetry works in a slow fashion and books that last need to work levels that deliver over time. unfortunately DWH’s design and approach look like a brochure for a “dot com” that burst.

“exposed some of the fallacies involved in bpNichol criticism (one of which being that his work was beyond critique or reproach”

i guess I should say that i’m not a big bp fan – and his work has a lot of problems- but i get the difference between homage and gang rape – DWH has habit of doing the nasty with other peoples stuff – i think the words he now uses is “uncreative writing” – whatever.

and frankly Derek the work is not accomplished in any of the style he “samples” (very similar to the substandard work of beth learn again). if you think so i think you need to visit a good book store and buy some books.

both DWH and CB’s visual work is lacking – unlike Mcaffery who covered so much more with so little.

i will give you one thing – you didn’t use the tag vispo – which is concrete for “ i don’t know what the fuck i’m talking about”

Good try

dfb

Anonymous said...

Daniel;
i gotta tell you, i find that "good try" at the end of your letter rather condescending (and the "i think you need to visit a good book store and buy some books" as well), but i'll just deal with the letter instead ...

- i believe that while concrete poetry is a marginalized and slow moving form - i think that _Nicholodeon_ worked to increase the exposure of concrete poetry in the late 1990's in a way that _Criss Cross_ and _High C_ (both - yes - esceptional books without a doubt) couldn't if for no other reason than they are (both?) out of print. in fact whiel we are on that point:

- _Nicholodeon_ has joined those 2 texts, as it also now out of print - after 3 editions.

- the "uncreative writing" work is actually that of Kenneth Goldsmith. and whiel darren has edited Goldsmith's work through Coach House, as far as i know he does not currently practice that style - although yes he is a proponent of it.

- as i said in my post, i realize that _Nicholodeon_ is not as accomplished book - and is a problematic text in a great number of ways - a fact that Wershler-Henry has recognized as well in fact, both in print (his article in _Open Letter_ 11:3 comes immediatly to mind) and in conversation.

- i certainly would not argue that either Wershler-Henry or Bok (and Bok's published body of work in this genre is rather small, to be frank) are doing ground-breaking work in concrete poetry, but i think that they are adding to the genre, even if only in the way that they are raising hackles (clearly), spurring conversation, and adding to the critical discourse around concrete poetry in canada.

- is wershler-benry's work anywhere near as important in Canadian concrete poetic history as that of curry, riddell, UU, lefler, mccaffery, nichol, bissett, dutton - or many others (including yourself) - ? of course not. but, like i said, we do - at least - keep arguing... and for that, i am pleased.

anyway - all the best
derek

dfb said...

http://www.spiraldragon.com/underwhich/catalogue/highlights.shtml

http://www.bitwalla.com/afterwords/tech/search.cgi?terms=+high%20+ground

http://www.bookthug.ca/miva/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=BookThug&Product_Code=523&Category_Code=D

http://www.bitwalla.com/afterwords/tech/search.cgi?terms=+love%20+book%20+remembrances

that is not even looking at abebooks

then you say

“as i said in my post, i realize that _Nicholodeon_ is not as accomplished book - and is a problematic text in a great number of ways - a fact that Wershler-Henry has recognized as well in fact, both in print (his article in _Open Letter_ 11:3 comes immediatly to mind) and in conversation”

so i have no argument – and as for rather condescending tone at the end of my post – yes it is.

i know what i’m talking about and JPF seems to have gotten upset with my answer when he asked what was my issue with the power twins.

anyway a interesting Friday night

love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

i'm not upset about anything. I'm in no way a visual poetry scholar -- it's far from my specialty. i am a big fan of dwh's writing though.

i just shouldn't have asked you abt Bok and Wershler-Henry, daniel. the bitterness is just stifling.

dfb said...

i find it strange that by expressing an option it’s called bitter. i don’t have bitterness, i just find it really surprising that people don’t see through his (dwh’s) work – it’s a sham – based on some every light weight second ideas.

guess it’s tough when we don’t all agree, john – maybe i need to take your special ed ucational course or something – i wonder will i ever fit in – guess it’s to late to get a reading in montreal - god are you up there it’s me, margret

asthma_boy said...

you don't just express options (opinions?), daniel. you just bitch and moan. your rhetorical strategy is pretty weak -- it's basically name calling. you favour cynicism over critical thought. the way you treat other posters is pretty classless. if it's not bitterness behind your postings then it's rage, or fear, or something.

but still, you are more than welcome to read in montreal.

dfb said...

i didn’t think it was about rhetorical style – i thought it was just the way ya spoke – yes i name call- cuz it’s like making an example, a quick, fast and dirty illustration – this isn’t scholarship (it’s a fucking blog) - i don’t do scholarship and if you didn’t get it by now i don’t have much respect for that shit.

and as for my attitude toward others as being pretty classless – well ya know i often run with a classless crowd – and the ill-informed (which in this case unfortunately is you). i don’t care if you like DWH and or CB’s work. i just think in the long run neither is of much interest.

My favorite quote about eunoia “i won’t be reading it in seven years”

and there is so much hot air (type) wasted on them – when much more interesting things go by unmentioned (dummy spit, moby jane, a penny dreadful) the list goes on and on – but the small press is often just like entertainment tonight- do you know what “Brad and Tom” are doing, because Brad and Tom are the guys with the largest voice in the room – it is interesting that neither you nor derek have lived in the same city as these bozo’s (for a decade). they are how shall i put it – not good neighbors.

so i have just chosen not to play lurker anymore – so i get to be asshole. i can live with that.

JPF – i am actually fond of you (as i am of db), i sure don’t agree with you on stuff, and i sure don’t enjoy all your work – but you have a view and that is entirely your own and i think quite hard fought. weathered and worn and it leaks and makes a wonderful sound that is unique – and i like that.

you didn’t steal it and just start talking so loudly that people forgot it wasn’t your idea to start with.

love
dfb

asthma_boy said...

my blog, i get the last word. i choose this word: sigh.

Jonathan Ball said...

JPF, i would like to congratulate you, first & foremost, on a great blog. Your posts may be few & far between, but they always seem to rile up the crowd.

i must admit i am not sure where i fit into all of this. i do not know much about concrete poetry, though i am a fan of some of what i have seen, most recently i like beaulieu's stuff where i find it. i am going to have to search out much more of this stuff.

as far as the SoQ school, i am not sure how i feel about this issue. i write a lot of "I" poetry & also a lot of more avant-garde work. one thing i do hate is when i see writing that struggles towards some epiphany... not that i necessarily abhor the struggle but that it always seems so forced & derivative. but why does "I" always seem to people to call up the horrors of the lyric? there are plenty of problems with lyric poetry as a form, certainly, but there are also many strengths, i feel. certainly "I" is suitable in expressive and communicative writing, some of which i write and some of which i enjoy. much of "I" poetry is crap, in my view, but this has nothing to do with it being "lyric" as much as it has to do with slavish adherence to elements of the lyric tradition which bore me.

it seems to me much more interesting to investigate one's flaws & admit one's confusion than to pretend to have epiphanies. & also to leave lyric by the wayside from time to time & do other things. & why not play with the possibilities of language & narrative as well? i don't see what point there is in setting up a political viewpoint and narrow-mindedly liking only what falls within this range.

i am the first to admit that i do not have a united or consistent identity. there are moments when i want to read beaulieu, others when i want to read fiorentino, and still others when i want to read faulkner or ondaatje or even put the books away & pull out my mr. show dvds. i would like to meet these people who have static, fully-formed personalities.

Jonathan Ball said...

sorry jon, i must have walked away to sign for a package while you were posting the last word, just noticed it now.

asthma_boy said...

that's ok, Jonathan, your comments are welcome.

Blah blah blah said...

This is stupid. So-called "traditional" poetry is no better or worse today than so-called "avant garde' poetry. There is excellent work being written in both camps and there is shit being written in both camps... if, in fact, they are actually camps, which I doubt.

Both styles are easily praised by their adherents, and both styles are easily belittled by their detractors.

At the end of the day, I'd rather read something good, be it "traditional" (lame classification) or "avant garde" (equally lame classification).

If anything is making Canadian poetry suffer, it is all these arguments which are trying to produce aesthetic doctrine out of what is essentially a matter of taste.

asthma_boy said...

i agree with you -- both "camps" can produce good work. even ron silliman would agree with you there. his argument has never been SoQ = bad / post-avant = good. silliman has often admitted that SoQ poets were capable of and often produced good work. tradition is not a bad thing. innovation is not a bad thing.

i disagree with you when you say that these kind of arguments make Canadian poetry suffer. if there's a specific trend developing, it's good to discuss its implications. and aesthetics are always a matter of taste. does that mean we can never classify or argue?

i don't like the fact that the thread was quickly reduced to name calling. that's not cool.

Jonathan Ball said...

i agree with jon (and not just because he spells his name without an "h" as do i) -- at the end of the day, both "camps" produce good work and bad work. debate is never "bad" though it can be unproductive when it devolves to name-calling and similar boring & repetitive nonsense.

my concern with such "debates" is that it seems like little more than the kind of infighting featured in the more embarassing parts of this thread often typifies public discourse instead of the intelligent discussion which is so badly needed if canadian poetry is going to get any of the recognition it deserves outside of our borders (or even within our borders, where a lot of people have never heard of kroetsch, let alone silliman).

it's certainly useful to identify trends & to analyze different schools (assuming they exist) in order to learn from past writers & avoid derivation when unnecessary and detrimental to one's intentions. also to understand one's intentions when writing & work against one's own expectations in order to grow as a person & an artist.

but, then again, when the brits are shooting innocent people five times in the head for no reason, aesthetics don't interest me, at least for today.

Daniel Sendecki said...

Nothing's wrong with acknowledging the nature of literary reaction in Canada. The SOQN produces writers of significance, so do the avants and post-avants.

One point that should be brought up, and might be underlying some of the hostility present in this thread, might be the way in which the SOQ tends to possess more resources for seeing its poetry put into publication. There are far less experimental presses and journals compared with SOQ-style houses, methinks. This is institutionalized, as well, I think to a great degree.

Well, if nothing else, this thread made me go back and read some Paul Vermeesch and Rob Mclennan and George Eliot Clarke.

Blah Blah Blah said...

I don't think it's a bad thing to recognize trends and reflect on them, but I do not think that is what is happening here. It seems to me that whatever isn't so-called "avant-garde" poetry is being automatically lumped (mostly by dfb) into this arbitrary category of SoQN...which might as well be called "poems that make syntactic sense". This is ridiculous. Are Vermeersch and Starnino really so similar? I would argue not. Are Clarke and McClennan of the same school? Not on your life.

There's more than two ways of thinking about/making poetry. It's not so black and white. These types of discussions tend to simplify the trends (if, in fact, there are any...I have yet to see any real evidence in this forum) rather than shed light on them.

Within the narrative, lyric, epic, concrete, LANGUAGE, and whatever other systems of writing you want slap a label on, there are as many variations and deviations as there are practitioners.

What good does do them, or us, to start lumping very different writers together like this, unless it's simply more convenient for those who wish to form an opinion about a book without ever reading it? That's the only use I can think of.

asthma_boy said...

blah and jonathan,

these two last posts are great. you guys are asking the right kind of questions. and i agree the only camp mclennan, vermeersch, clarke, and starnino all belong to is canadian poetry. but my original questions were: who fits the mold of the SoQ? is there a Canadian version? and the fact that poets with such disparate poetic practices were offered as possible candidates says something encouraging abt Canadian Poetry, right?

one of my favourite bpNichol quotes is "There are many ways of both ways."

Jonathan Ball said...

who fits the mold of SoQ? i suppose i do, at times (though i don't have a trade publication out & am a figure of little to no prominence in the canadian literary scene at present) & then again, not at other times. it's hard to present poets who might "fit the mold" because many writers (especially in canada) seem to oscillate between poles, -- though the bulk of one poet's work might be generally lyric & conservative, often you can find a few or even many more adventurous works in a poet's oeuvre.

who belongs is a tough question for me to answer, because i generally avoid such writing due to personal preference, & so don't know the names as well as i might otherwise. when i read a book that doesn't interest me i usually fall asleep & start reading something else when i wake up.

i'm curious -- does silliman name any names when discussing the SoQ south of the border?

i completely agree with sendecki's complaint that the "conservative poets" (if such a strange beast can be said to exist) seem to run most of the journals (though thankfully not all). i've published fairly conservative works in fairly conservative journals, which is fine, but i often find myself frustrated that the work i'm more excited about, which i feel represents me better, is harder to publish.

the problem is (i think) the same problem that canadian writing has always faced -- if there is an SoQ conspiracy, its members live in toronto & review books (or rather, choose NOT to review books), effectively dictating to a large degree what gets studied & what gets sold, & what is moved beyond our borders as "representative" of canadian poetry.

asthma_boy said...

ron silliman is all about naming names. it seems he's made alot of enemies with his discourse. but it's a valuable discourse.

i dunno if there's an SoQN conspiracy, but i do think that Creative Writing MA's and MFA's are producing alot of SoQ type poets and these poets often find themselves running the show, whether it be as editors of the literary journals or book reviewers, or whatever. however, the U of Manitoba and the U of Calgary are two graduate schools that have experimental writers at the helm.

Jonathan Ball said...

as a graduate of the U of Manitoba about to move to attend the U of Calgary, i'd have to agree. ultimately it's a matter of numbers. as more and more writers move into experimental terrain, we're seeing more and more journals being started to publish experimental work and more established journals accepting a mix or work that is rather conservative or that moves into experimental terrain. i would like to see the day that grant funders and literary awards and book review pages consistently give consideration to experimental writers as well -- such cases seem to be too few and far between.

on a perhaps unrelated note, i was thinking today that one of the difficulties of the literary world (aside from the problem of getting certain kinds of work published) is that the time delays involved in placing and publishing work are so large that it's possible to write a book or two in the time it takes you to publish a book, and sometimes even to place a book with a publisher (similar delays exist with individual poems in journals) -- i always find that whatever i'm publishing, by the time it's actually published it no longer seems to represent me, though i may still feel the pieces are strong. hell, i'm almost done this second book and i've yet to even hear back from the publisher i sent the first one to whether they want to run with it or not.

t.burgess said...

nice blog, palms, nice. a damn sight better'n my unholy hate blog was. interesting chat, too...i'd say to you this: you know when they kick the psycho off the reality show early 'cause (s)he's too much for everyone? the show sux when they leave. cultivate some of these recidivists, keep 'em.

johannesbrahms B said...

hey ive just looked at these 61
posts on jpf's lurch fever, and,
while much of it can be summarized
as the exact same argument for the billionth time with similar results,
i have to wonder if the anonymous
who wrote that daniel's "good try" ending was condescending was also
the anonymous who wrote:

"thought dfb half interesting for a moment. but he's like so many you see. bitter long-in-the-tooth marginals suffering from lifelong gouty overproductivity.
5:01 PM "

...i hope that was two different anonymouses. the anonymous
quoted second, (tho written
beforehand) pretty much
defines condescension gargling
itself whole. Read it again:

"thought dfb half interesting for a moment. but he's like so many you see. bitter long-in-the-tooth marginals suffering from lifelong gouty overproductivity."

good try.

but anyway heh, t burgess even
posts on blogs, and likes the recidivists. hurray for recidivists.

interesting at times.

anon jb

Lars Palm said...

amazing how easy it is to get poets into namecalling.

those of you who wish to try might take a look at my call for submissions posted about a week ago (on july 18).

I'll react to whatever comes in within a week

Anonymous said...

Not knowing any names to call, nor call upon, I will call none. This stillness is deafening, more so redeafening. My limited understanding of the poetic form, should it have one, is that it creates dissonances and ruptures, not name calling and nepotisms. Self-flaggation, not self-promotion, though of course a well positioned 'look at me' is well worth the bother and hypenation, not to leave out ampersands and dashes. Anyone, be he or she a poet, prose writer, yawler, talker or just plain converser, should be lauded, not demoted and rimed. Poetry is memory, and remembering is the ketch and carry of expression, be it past, present or future. Like most things cultural, the have's want to ideologize and sequester what should be public and free, not priced and cast into plodetry and ill manners. Lets write, not blather and cast demons upon those brave enough to express what is so often unexpressible. Perhaps once I figure out who these name callers and called names are, I will be better quipped to leave the blithering to those whose sole force of habit is ampersands, hypens and whatnot's. For the time being, I think I'll re-read Ovid and Milozs, and Paz and Jiminez, and anyone else brave enough to have tried to put expression to what is so often unexpressible. As I haven't the faintest how to apply for a USER NAME or a PASSWORD, I will sign as Derrida would have, had he had the patience to write such nonsense (as I have, and no one else). Writers write, or am I wrong?

Stephen Rowntree, Ottawa

Anonymous said...

Picasso, Bacon, Kandinsky and Rothko, to name but four, were masters of their crafts, having mastered the masters before deconstructing the medium. Knowing what came before, and paying tribute and homage to the creative energy that produced it, is something we should all pay attention to; as without a past to work from and learn, we are nothing less than false identities with even falser attitudes and posturing. Profiteers, as one might suggest. Deleuze was a fine and geniune example of the way philosophy can be redefined and reconstructed: his attitudinal stance was, we must climb up on the back of post modernity and ass-fuck the canon, thereby producing a bastard child. Of course Deleuze and Picasso, and Rothko and Kandinsky, and Pollock and Derrida, knew the difference between a false posture and a geniune thought. A great artist, and there are many, just look backwards, perhaps forwards still, learn to master the drawing of a hand, in all its gestures, before attempting to deconstruct the finger and the thumb and the image of a hand. As for Soloway (sic) he taught me English Lit in 1975 when I was a student at John Abbott College inspiring me to push forward regardless of the name calling and poor manners of those still struggling to draw a hand.

Stephen Rowntree, Ottawa

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