02 June 2008

more Conceptual Poetry

Another url on "Harriet" puts Kenneth Goldsmith's posts on the Conceptual Poetry and Its Others symposium together.

A comment on his posts at that site feared that the symposium was engaged in canon formation. As I experienced it, nothing could be further from the truth. This was very much an opening and a questioning, with many poets engaged with poetic works ranging far from the poets present or presenting at the symposium. Marjorie Perloff's role was as a convenor, and I found no one who talked during the symposium (either formally or informally) the least bit interested in setting up borders around "conceptual poetry." Craig Dworkin made comments on the panel that specifically requested we forego the first ten years of criticism that would argue endlessly about defining "conceptual poetry" and argue for what is and what is not conceptual poetry. Rather, let's focus on the works, not on the categorization, and certainly not on canon formation. No one argued with those comments.

Here is Christian Bök's four-square grid for kinds of poetic activity. Thanks to Joseph for filling in my memory blanks to complete this.

Upper left quadrant:

Label COGNITIVE
positive for intentionality
positive for expressivity
connected to games of mimicry
(romanticism, persona poems)


Lower left quadrant:

Label AUTOMATIC
negative for intentionality
positive for expressivity
connected to games of vertigo
(surrealism)


Upper right quadrant:

Label MANNERIST
positive for intentionality
negative for expressivity
connected to games of combat
(oulipo, Roussel, dada)


Lower right quadrant:

Label: ALEATORY
negative for intentionality
negative for expressivity
connected to games of chance
(procedural poems, Cage, Mac Low)

8 Comments:

At 7:50 PM, Blogger Nada said...

That would make all poetry, even one with a foot in each quadrant, totally L7. Ridiculous.

And where are the chicks, indeed?

PuhLEEZ.

 
At 7:51 PM, Blogger Nada said...

I meant "poetries."

 
At 8:24 PM, Blogger Joseph said...

filling in the blanks...

Upper left quadrant:
Label: Cognitive
connected to games of mimicry
(romanticism, persona poems)

Lower left quadrant:
Label: Automatic
connected to games of vertigo
(surrealism)

Upper right quadrant:
Label: Mannerist
(oulipo, Roussel, dada)

For Bok, conceptual poetry is the awareness of each of these categories; a conceptual poet could traverse any of them, and attempt to move outside of them.

 
At 9:20 PM, Blogger charles said...

indeed, Nada, where are the women? There were several as presenters and panelists and respondents at the symposium, which was terrific. Some key work and comments particularly by Caroline Bergvall, Tracie Morris, Cole Swensen, Vanessa Place, and Laynie Browne. But it was particularly pointed out by Laynie that there certainly aren't many in the ubuweb conceptual writing anthology.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger charles said...

thanks, joseph

Christian seemed to be arguing that, yes, one could move around the categories, but that it might be impossible to imagine a poetry outside them entirely.

 
At 9:44 PM, Blogger charles said...

Nada, excuse my ignorance, but what is "L7" -- or do you just mean it makes poetry/poetries into some kind of bingo game?

 
At 11:05 PM, OpenID uncomplicatedly said...

L7 makes a square, she means that it makes all poetry totally lame, the kind of guy who wears a vest and stands next to the cheetos all night.

 
At 11:54 AM, Blogger Tim Peterson said...

Eating EXTREME Cheetos with an EXTREME vest on? Seriously, what could be more avant garde? Especially if there is a group of people doing it. How PERFECTLY DISGRACEFUL! YEAH!

No, what I have a problem with here is the weird definition of "Mannerism." What could it possibly have to do with Dada and Oulipo and...games of combat? On the contrary, Mannerism has to do with a sense of needlessly and elaborately effete over-ornamentation, decoration, and excessiveness.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home