Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Dreaming Bay Poetics 2

Reading Bay Poetics by candlelight last night due to giant power outage in the East Bay. A Tonalists are all about the darkness though so I was okay with it.

Reflecting on the Sunday's celebration, it occurs to me that the making of the anthology (according to Stephanie Young’s description of her process in the introduction) was mirrored by the event. In fact Stephanie commented that putting the book together was more an activity of assembling than editing. Assembled then at the New Yipes space were friends, interlocking affinity groups, lone wolves both in and not in the anthology, people new to the scene and people who have been on the scene quite literally since before Stephanie was born (revealed in the anthology to be 1974). I wasn’t on the scene at the time of the Stephanie birth but some quick math tells me I was the age of several of the younger contributors. Energy was very high among those drinking, talking, skulking, sulking, lurking and posing for pictures. If Stephanie had thrown herself out into the poet mosh pit her feet need not have touched the floor all evening.

One could observe people hanging with writers they were placed with in the anthology (or avoiding them) and there were also many other groupings in what is clearly now a chaotic Bay Area primal soup of poetics. I observed many A Tonalists, writers who have used the term New Brutalist in a poem or comment, surrealists, Beats, language poets, members of the New York School and Flarfists. Could it be that there was one person who was all of the above? Was it Bill Luoma?

The presence of many younger writers in the anthology and at the event seems to be the key aspect of the whole project. Their poetics are quite various and they are at different places in their writing practices and their careers, but they are there (here) in force and are way ready to take over. A number of younger writers are among my close friends and I had a teacher’s (archivist’s, mother's, publisher’s, distributor’s) pride in their power and was reminded of why it is good to show up on the actual scene once in a while.

Bay Poetics is not inclusive and doesn’t really have a poetics other than being experimental. (Poetics being a code word for experimental.) It does constitute, as Stephanie has pointed out, a snapshot of the scene. In that way it seems like an ideal teaching tool. Teaching it would allow students to read younger writers along with their teachers and important influences. The fact that it isn’t complete would allow one to teach books by the not included writers and talk about community. It would be a very different experience from the one I had being taught the New American Poetry in Ron Loewinsohn’s class at Cal in the 70s. The difference is that it feels, as it did on Sunday night, like you can walk right into the book.


Blogger Mr. Horton said...

The plural of poetics is poetics. So Bay Poetics can and should be read as plural in this case.

7:41 AM  

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