Wednesday, April 22, 2009

More of The Hoag

I've read a few more of his essays, one in particular stood out which was about the fear of narrative and the kind of disjunction that is popular today. He brought lots of examples and arguments for and against narrative and some possible reasons why the narrative so prevalent in the 70's and 80's has fallen out of favour, but I get the sense in the end that he is an old zebra and doesn't really want to change his stripes. He talks about the lack of emotion or intent in these poems which gives them an air of lightness. And yes, this is a similar argument to the essay I read yesterday and I both agree and disagree with him. Emotionally charged poems are brilliant, but you don't NEED narrative to achieve that, the fact that many of the these disjunctive poems of today don't have a lot of emotional content doesn't mean that they won't in a few years time. Was The Red Wheelbarrow the pinnacle of modernist writing? Did it achieve everything that is good in poetry? He has to put this in perspective. He mentions one of the reasons disjunction has become so popular is that the world doesn't seem to fit into narrative structures anymore, we live in an age of fragment, of unconnectedness where there are no happy or otherwise endings. He is right about that I think, it is a social change as much as a poetic change and for that reason there isn't any going back (not for the foreseeable future anyway). Not that he doesn't suggest we go back, but he doesn't suggest we go forward either. I guess he is conservative and there is nothing wrong with that, but art for me doesn't have boundaries, even this notion of how poetry must have to have emotional resonance - does it really? Or is it that just the way we've always done it? Can it operate on an intellectual level? A subconscious level? A spiritual level? Are some of things only accessed by disjunction?

Also for me, I think my brain simply works language in that way. I do have a limited attention span and I can't write any other way. And when I read those surprising breaks those leaps of imagination in other pieces of work and get way more of a thrill than I would reading a confessional narrative ala Louise Gluck and others.

Anyway I bought Michelle Leggott's Milk and Honey (AUP, 2005. ISBN: 1-86940-334-7) yesterday and I am liking it (so far) more than her earlier stuff, her phrasing and form seems to fit her ideas better. I seem to get more out of them and less overwhelmed by them, although I think in most ways they are just as mysterious. She seems to be what Hoagland calls a 'collage' poet and perhaps more so than the so called disjunctive poets although that distinction seems fairly pointless. Maybe I'm meaning more surrealist than languagist. No, that's not right either, she crosses over into language poetry sometimes. Labels are stupid anyway.

But to her actual writing - the last stanza of tonight I am sad:
Oh Oh Oh
three peacock feathers
in the letterbox
unsleeping eyes
green and gold and black
big news
morning dews
my screen lights up
it's a beautiful day
I'll go to the city
and make you guess
what I bought
and how it
almost fits
over my fizz
for you
O bird
O bee
O spandex butterfly heart
Astounding collage of images I think, odd and arresting, the first part seems like a collage, then it goes into a bit of sustained address to 'you' and then that word 'fizz'. What is it? Besides the rhyme why did she choose it? The sound? The splatter of saliva on the screen when she says it? Then it ends on that mashup of the colloquially textual 'spandex' and the cliche of 'butterfly heart'. It works for me.

I wrote the Posthistory today, it was just such and intriguing title I couldn't resist. Not sure if I achieved anything, but then I never am.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

/* Google analytics */