Date: Tue, 24 Jul 2001
Subject: Re: ebr piece on creative writing pedagogy...

(How will I ever get anything done and get back to the objects of my
interest and commitment, this list is so distracting and engrossing!)

What I've already skimmed of the 57-pp. print-out of your fascinatingly
argued, rousingly oratorical paper looks like it's gonna be quite a read.
Good shot!

Prior to tomorrow's (anon's) more specific replies, let me just say a couple
of related thoughts recently on my mind, a convergence of illuminating


I've been reading Milton's Latin poetry (huh?); recently, I read Anthony
's impeccable, critical edition of Shelley's "Adonais" manuscript. What
handicaps my appreciation of poetry, I'm learning --- with Milton, the
importance of the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot (so relevant and 2001, with
"terrorists" driving explosives around like Good Humor trucks!) and later
anti-monarchist Cromwell-ism for Milton; with Shelley, Tory party politics for
Shelley (he accused Tory critics of causing Keats' death) --- is my utter lack
of preparation in History. But I barely recall taking a single history
class, although I must've (curriculum requirements)!

Imaginative, fantastical or mythological poetry seemingly devoid of political
or historical reference begins to seem stridently agitprop: the whole of
Paradise Lost could/should be read as Milton's autobiographical regicide
remorse; even the prevalence of a mythological setting in Greek tragedy was
a response to popular failures on record for when the dramatists attempted
still contemporary historical subjects to an unreceptive or hostile response
that forced a retreat back into anachronistic Iliad subject matter, . . . etc.

Simultaneously, I was very taken by an essay ("New Hope for The Disappeared") where Ron Silliman pinpoints the "birth" of the English Dept.: 1828, London University, Thomas Dale, the first professor of English literature. --- In a naive way, I doubt I'd ever imagined an antedeluvian academia without an English Department!

And, lastly, Claudia Rankine's (and Carolyn Crumpacker's)
Poetry-for-Teachers-of-Teenagers reading last week, where Rankine unveiled
(drum roll) their Manifesto. Their critique: they
notice that with everything they read in journals these days, there's no
telling when it was written, given the poem's autonomous world; they want more
name-naming ("Bush, Microsoft, Nike") and they're invoking (French
pronunciation) "engagement" . . . ("Nike"? as in Victory of Samothrace? Note
to self: buy/find a newspaper) (I see holes in their critique ---
newmediapoets as a literary Grease [the musical] or "Return to the
'60's"/Pop; the non-recognition that formalist features alone [the
asyntactical, "free verse," open field] absolutely date what's printed today
with a definite terminus post quem; XXth cent. American
heteroglossia/polyvocality as the microcosm of surrounding mass media
journalism; the mere ~existence~ of certain authorial identities [Black, gay,
?feminist] as periodized; the abandonment of the political as "content" as a
conscious, '80's, collective committee fiat of the Language Patriarchs,
etc., etc. --- but still, I'm enthused by their direction.)

Which is to say, the daydream begins---

---poetry lost its "relevance" when the pedagogical needs to explain the
ever-increasing allusions/elusiveness in poetry's synthetic language became
greater than those poetic idiolects' vestigial resemblance to a normative
discourse, ---note!--- a normative discourse that continues as the preferred
vehicle of history and which would, in turn, have needed at least some common
ground of articulation to crosspollinate with the poem's historical context
or, vice-versa, the poem as explaining/augmenting historical particulars.

Next: "Autobiographia Literaria of a Total Failure" or "Avant-Gardist Manqué'"
. . .

. . . "How Being Born at The Wrong Time Alone Spared Me The Worse Degradation of an MFA" . . .:

Late '60's/early '70's increased funding for high school Humanities in high
school made me . . .

new sentence:

. . . The legitimate successor to the fallacious first-person "lyrical"
I-subject is a description of individually experienced creative writing
workshops, and their compote fruit . . .