For Tomorrow (Saturday, Week 2): Our Creations

Thank you all for contributing to a great discussion on the readings.  Yesterday many good questions/ideas/observations, came up, among them:

1) the readings, a couple of you noted, are “like a musical score.”  This felt especially true of Coolige.  YES!  Aside from the fact that Coolige draws from multiple influences, one of the deepest, that of his musical background in jazz, whenever we are exploring issues of “movement” on the page – and here, I mean “static movement,” not, say, mousover digital poetics, etc. – one necessarily bumps up against “musicality” in poetry.  But what do I mean by “musicality”?  Well, short answer: we’ll get there with sound poetry and the lyric, revisiting Coolidge in the process, so for now – just as when someone says “that’s not music” (say, Cage or Schoenberg or…) one can say of Coolidge’s work: “that’s not poetry,” or less dogmatically: “that’s not doing anything for me.  NO WAY INTO THE POEM.”  Which gets us to …

2) Taste and “I can appreciate it but I don’t like it” versus the much deeper set of questions Jane and others brought up: at what point does the non-closural, wide open work that has multiple ways of looking at it dissolve into “no way in.”  And further, isn’t this Mallarmean form, this extreme use of negative space and exploration of words as units to explore in themselves, isn’t this “running out of steam,” or in any case been hashed and rehashed to the extent that it’s now almost as canonized and familiar, hence potentially conservatizing, as the “confessional poem” or the Beat poems, that we’ve been taught, seen extensively in schools, etc.  I take it these will be questions to be wrestled with in your own collaborations.  When thinking about “what’s next” or “how can I make something that I haven’t done or seen before” and then negotiating that out with each other, questions of what is outmoded, whether outmoded is a problem, and whether an idea is fully developed and not just “word salad” or pastiche or cute (funny, by the way is great, though cute may or may not be, right?) – these will keep surfacing.

Any case, we’ll do some more group work, still focusing on getting to know each other and each other’s interests, this Saturday.  Serious and silly and necessary work.  Please BE ON TIME.  YOUR PEERS ARE COUNTING ON YOU.  No readings, remember, till late Sunday.  Next batch will be shorter, and so forth, until they sort of phase out in favor of your own writing.  Next week, though: VISUAL POETRY and THE ALTERED BOOK as “performative gestures” and/or ways to perform the text.

See you tomorrow,


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