Random Criticism and other exciting ventures of the mindplace

On his blog, Joshua Corey wrote some gab about The Possess Nothing off-site reading at AWP. Here it is:

The stand-out readers are Johannes (reading from A New Quarantine Will Take My Place), Gordon Massman (talk about queer heterosexuality! reading from The Essential Numbers 1991 – 2008), and Abraham Smith, an electric hopping presence (reading from a book I regret not purchasing, whim man mammon). Afterward fall in with Johannes who insists on “famous tequila shots” and leads a small group of us, pied-piper style, to the Whiskey Bar. I wander off and meet Mark and Richard for late night fish n’ chips at a pub.

I had that tequila shot with you. Thank you Johannes. Josh, I should have asked when we were at the whiskey bar. I wish I had known about what you wrote in the future when we were at the bar. Did you hear Shelly Taylor or Lara Glenum? Did you not notice their gangsterly poesy?

This is just another tack on the makes-me-sad-to-be-a-part-of-the-sex-with-the-dick list. Someone as smart and charming as Joshua Corey should know better than to commit the same mistake that’s been made by men, well, since ever. Ignoring women to the point of erasure is offensive, particularly when the women writers held it as down and dirty as the men. Not knocking Gordon, Abe, or Johannes, who are fucking ridiculous awesomeness, just saying, the women is as good as the men, and in my opinion, much better dressed.

When discussing with Charles Alexander the possibility of getting Action books people in for a reading to Tucson, I accidentally labeled them post-avant. My bad. My tongue slips. I’m only young!

So I tried to write something to Charles about the aesthetic sensibility of my new favorite authors. This is what came out:

Dear Charles,

For the work.

I think this is something other than post-avant. Sorry for the mishap. I don’t know what it is, and I don’t think it’s quite there yet. I do think its something new. I don’t know how I fit in the mix yet, but I feel it in my bones. At the Action/Tarpaulin Sky/Black Ocean/Slope Editions reading there were a wide array of new poets with varied aesthetics, but there was something binding them together (maybe it was just energy? maybe it was the PBR?). Perhaps its a push for the absurd, a fascination with language that is less of an intellectual investigation and more of a children’s game, with rules that are only meant to be broken, why have them? I’ve been thinking a lot about how the internet and contemporary artists like Banksy and Koons kind of represent this aesthetic. I’ve been thinking about these sonnets Tim Peterson just scooped for EOAGH, that is half appropriated half riffing and are sonnets, but sonnets that break all the rules a sonnet can have. I’ve been reading Tenney Nathanson’s new book and wish I wrote it. So I’m going to. I think about how I appropriate material that my computer generates based on my likes and dislikes, like my computer writes my poems better than I can. I just took work from Abe Smith that is Hank Williams mixed with William Carlos Williams and captain of the slam team. I am thinking punk rock, being defiant just to be defiant, language without ethics or politics. I am thinking about asking people to publish my work rather than submitting. I like making books, so I think I’m going to duct tape them. there is no grammar or punctuation. there is only grammar and punctuation. Offensive and shocking. I think its all coming out of Langpo, maybe a reaction to Langpo. Deep down we all want to write like Charles Bernstein, but I don’t think I’m that smart or charming. Everybody’s in love with John Ashbery and John Berryman. I think they need to be more in love with Barbara Guest. I think Gertrude Stein was the most well hung poet that ever lived, even though there are rumors about Galway Kinnell. It’s perverse, I know that. I think Zachary Schomburg is onto something.  It’s accessible DaDa. Lady GaGa, who uses auto-tune even though she can sing. Imagine a bird made out of donuts. When you try to shoot it, the bullet misses through the donut hole. It’s definitely not egalitarian. I don’t know if people are more interested in getting drunk and talking about Michael Stipe or Michael Palmer, but I’m interested in their relationship. What if Elizabeth Bishop did sleep with Robert Lowell? Their kids would be less interesting than if Elizabeth Bishop slept with Elizabeth Bishop. Maybe there is no substance or argument… it’s just a show and everyone wants to be a rockstar? I once had a teacher who said in the field of poetry some poets sit and stare at a blade of grass and some run around naked, screaming, and on fire. I’m naked, screaming, and on fire. I can’t wait till I can sit down and write about what it was like.

In short, I don’t know. Drew Krewer and I are going to work on an essay about it soon when I’m done screaming and being on fire.

It’s kind of good I’m not going to Lithuania. I’d rather be O’Hara than Milosz anyway.

Love,
JL