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
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
Prior to tomorrow's (anon's) more specific replies, let me just say
of related thoughts recently on my mind, a convergence of illuminating
ENGLISH LITERATURE AS ORPHAN OF HISTORY DEPARTMENT
I've been reading Milton's Latin poetry (huh?); recently, I
Knerr's impeccable, critical edition of Shelley's "Adonais"
handicaps my appreciation of poetry, I'm learning --- with Milton, the
importance of the Guy Fawkes Gunpowder Plot (so relevant and
"terrorists" driving explosives around like Good Humor trucks!)
anti-monarchist Cromwell-ism for Milton; with Shelley, Tory party
Shelley (he accused Tory critics of causing Keats' death) ---
is my utter lack
of preparation in History. But I barely recall taking a single
class, although I must've (curriculum requirements)!
Imaginative, fantastical or mythological poetry seemingly devoid of
or historical reference begins to seem stridently agitprop: the whole
Paradise Lost could/should be read as Milton's autobiographical
remorse; even the prevalence of a mythological setting in Greek
a response to popular failures on record for when the dramatists attempted
still contemporary historical subjects to an unreceptive or hostile
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 www.newmediapoets.com Manifesto. Their critique: they
notice that with everything they read in journals these days, there's
telling when it was written, given the poem's autonomous world; they
name-naming ("Bush, Microsoft, Nike") and they're invoking
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
'60's"/Pop; the non-recognition that formalist features alone [the
asyntactical, "free verse," open field] absolutely date what's
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,
?feminist] as periodized; the abandonment of the political as "content"
conscious, '80's, collective committee fiat of the Language
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
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
ground of articulation to crosspollinate with the poem's historical
or, vice-versa, the poem as explaining/augmenting historical particulars.
Next: "Autobiographia Literaria of a Total Failure" or "Avant-Gardist
. . .
. . . "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
school made me . . .
. . . The legitimate successor to the fallacious first-person "lyrical"
I-subject is a description of individually experienced creative writing
workshops, and their compote fruit . . .