Friday, February 22, 2008

What did you expect?

Just back from reading with Elizabeth Robinson for Mark McMorris at Georgetown University as part of their Lannan reading series. I always feel like Alice when I visit Big Eastern Universities, in spite of having grown up on Cape Cod. It was a delight to talk to the class who seemed very smart and, not surprisingly, quite wised in up in the ways of poetic experiment. Tina Darragh showed up, happily, and I was not surprised to find Ammiel Alcalay is prospering there in some sort of Poet Thing position engaging in that building of communities of poetics, translation, politics, and archival discovery which he always seems to be doing. Mark asked Elizabeth and I to focus on seriality for the seminar and I used the opportunity to talk about Spicer’s sense of the community building power of the serial poem, the loneliness of words being like that of people, seriality being present among poems by various members of a neighborhood creating resonances in meaning and possibility. One of Mark’s students, Perry Guevara, asked if I knew of a scene in Alabama but then I discovered that as he had studied with Hank Lazer when he was there he was the scene in Alabama. This puts me in mind of a handwritten sign that used to hang on the door of the North Star bar in Spicer’s old neighborhood in San Francisco. “Yeah, this is the North Star. Whad you expect?” I indirectly quote it in my poem “Spicer’s City.” The point being that life in the scene, along with a lot of other things one does, reading poetry comes to mind, might not seem like enough of an experience to be the utopia it is while it is happening even though everything is a stake all of the time. Speaking of which, I was extremely pleased to see that pillar of the poetry community, Rod Smith, at the reading, gallantly selling books and looking weirdly younger (lack of beard?) than he did the last time I saw him. We discussed the vicissitudes of surviving as poets outside of academia as well as a silly (appalling?) thing that one poet had said to the other in blogland. Rod asserted that whatever I might think about it Flarf could take care of such a statement, perhaps meaning that Flarf is more able to support the scathingly negative critique of silly advice given by older to younger poets about issues they clearly have not dealt with themselves that was clearly required -- but I deny it! More on this, but right now I have to focus on surviving outside of academia.

Laura Moriarty


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