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A site for exploration and discussion about verse, poetics, the aesthetic, and creative writing in general.

Because there is a profound difference between writing something to be read and writing something worth reading; and in that difference might beauty be found.

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

#Poppoetry: The Unsurprising Culture of Poetry in the U.S. -- Part I

So, the plan to pull back and organize has worked quite well. Ditched or clicked off a number of minor projects; finished or shelved the stack of books. (Others have come to take their place. But at least now there's only one stack.) Got seriously organized on my two major projects, and mostly put to bed the two sub-majors.

One of those is this essay about my post on this blog about the poem "Spook House" and the replies thereto (which is here). It took much longer than I expected, and ended up much larger than I expected. I believe the cause is that I had opportunity here to organize some long-pondered thoughts, and my mind grabbed that opportunity and put it to use.

I am wondering if there is anything that needs to be said up front (that need to be said up front, and that won't be repeated below). Primarily I am concerned with ideas that might falsely arise from out of this being a full essay, not a passing post. To that end:

  1. This essay is still very much in tune with and a continuation of the project that is this blog. This blog and the central ideas of the essay go hand in hand. Indeed, by the last third of the essay it is mostly oriented within the blog's normal subject of writing (and reading) poetry.
  2. When it comes to it, the motivations here have little to do with the actual "Spook House" exchange. This is an essay, a demonstration, I've long wanted to put to paper. The exchange (coupled with the greater context of the blog project) was but the arrival of opportunity.
  3. Though this is an essay, and as such carries a flavor of formality in it, I have no editors reading behind me. Imperfections will exist. I plan to revisit the essay editorially in a while. Right now, I need to get it off the ledger.
  4. In line with that, like everything else on this blog, the purpose here is discoursive and not argumentative. Even though this is in essay form, this is still an idea being presented for people to read, explore, ponder, discuss. All comments, continuations, and corrections, are welcome.

I also want to state, perhaps mostly for people for whom the ideas in this essay are new, for people unfamiliar with literary theory and criticism: there is nothing said here that does not come out of well established ideas. (Even if, for reasons which are in part explained in the essay, there are many who reject those ideas.) Indeed, the reading of the texts of the "Spook House" poem, posts, and replies is a fairly basic, literary endeavor. In fact, it is what literary studies -- and literature -- is supposed to be about: engaging texts. That is really all I am doing here: engaging the smaller text of the post and replies, and through it the larger text of the culture of contemporary poetry. This is not an out-of-the-ordinary endeavor, nor an out-of-the-ordnary idea. It is only something that is not often -- if even rarely -- said.

Though it wasn't planned as such, it ended up being a long-form essay. So I'm posting it here in parts. It is four parts on its own, but the third is large so I'll divide it into two, which makes five posts in total. I will space them out over time: I have no fixed schedule. (In truth, I am not yet finished cleaning up parts III and IV.) After I post them here I will also put them on my Hatter's Cabinet site, with a bit of a delay.

Now that they are up, here are the links to the other parts:

  • Part II. Emotionality, Authority, and Morality
  • Part III. The Poem and the Replies: Structure and Ideation
  • Part IV. Summation, Conclusion, and the Inevitable J'accuse

The full essay is also on my Hatters Cabinet site, here.


#Poppoetry: The Unsurprising Culture
of Poetry in the U.S.

I. Introduction: That Which Should Be Assumed


It is remarkable that the great masters of prose have almost always also been poets, be it publicly or only in secret, in the 'closet'; and verily, one writes good prose only face to face with poetry!
-- Nietzsche, The Gay Science (trans. Josefine Nauckhoff) §92

"Look, an epigraph."
"Yeah, like we didn't see that coming."

-- two snotnosed graduate students in an uptown café


Once upon a time . . . .

Yes, that has been said before. But it is as good a way to start as any.

And yes, that too has been said before as well.

Still –

Once upon a time not so long ago there was a blog, a blog about writing and reading poetry; and on that blog there was a post about a poem. And it came to happen that that post rather irked the poet who wrote the poem. So much so, the poet felt something needed to be done. So, he replied to the post on the blog, and in his words he let it be known that, generally speaking, this would not stand, and something needed to be done. And in the following exchanges of reply on his part and response on the part of the blog-writer, he made to do that very something.

Until there came the point where the blog-writer knew there was nothing more to be said to the poet. "Except," that blog-writer added in departure, "this was all very interesting on its own, in that you felt something needed to be done, and in how you did it. There is something worth exploring here. So I will off to do that; and, when I am done, I will on this blog post those explorations, to see if what happened here is as interesting to anyone else as it is to me."

This essay is that exploration.