A friend sent me this quote which they picked up from a TLS article quoting James Fenton’s “Manifesto Against Manifestos”, and I thought this was an ideal place to share it:
“Imagine a poem that was so intrinsically interesting that it never occurred to people, when discussing it, to mention treatment, method, tradition, influence, form or any of the usual critical categories. The only thing people wanted to talk about was the subject. Would that not be, in its way, revolutionary.”
Indeed! Work continues on the first issue of NewPoetry. A great issue full of varied, interesting poetic investigation.
Please forward to your networks! NewPoetry.ca is finally accepting submissions.
NewPoetry.ca seeks poetry for its premier gathering of work. The theme is “Beginning” and text, image, audio, video, and web-capable multi-media interpretations are welcome. Visual, lyrical, dub, sound, flarf, narrative, aural, L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, formal, sculptural, hip-hop, slam, recitation, etc., and whatever unnamed hybrids may exist between are welcome and encouraged. Work in both French and English is welcome. NewPoetry is a new multi-aesthetic venture that encourages cross-form collaboration and seeks to bring together as many poetic attempts as possible under one banner. Our goal is simply to showcase interesting work in a variety of styles. Please send work and/or proposal abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org, by June 1, 2011.
NewPoetry seems to have caused some excitement and some dismay in the poetry world. By far, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. But this site and those interested in it are not serving the cause by refusing to engage. As things get ramped up here, hopefully the other editors will be able to chime in, in a much more educated fashion than me, but for now, I’m the only one with posting access!
Three criticisms leveled at the site to this point are (hoping I’m getting the gist of each right):
- that my “rant” in the first post used the word “best”, which implies a devaluing of experiment and failure…
- the project itself does not duly recognize the efforts of those on the web and IRL who have already attempted synergistic projects…
- that the list of contributing editors from the first post and about page seems to form a sort of inadvertant canon, devaluing and excluding those not on the list…
Interesting and pertinent observations, all. And I agree with each of them, in some sense. Though I would offer the following in, if not defence then, explanation:
- My rant was written quickly, in a burst of energy, and used a style closer to journalism and/or communications flack than criticism. These are two forms I am intimate with and can default to at a moment’s notice. In short, I would in retrospect replace the word “best” with “most interesting”. That’s really more in the spirit of what we’re attempting here…
- There have been many, many sites and authors in the last few years who have attempted to build community and collaborative projects. Too many to name. Bookninja itself started out as such, a small community, but one that quickly grew beyond our control into a larger group of many thousands of readers. But it didn’t generate a sense of collaborative energy and cooperative endeavour. It wasn’t designed as such. Other sites have tried to bridge this gap, and in the real world there are several poets and writers and reading series who have tried to act as bridge-builders for a variety of styles and aesthetics. I hope that these people and sites don’t feel in anyway excluded and/or threatened by this one. But if I were to name a few, I would invariably leave others out. An exhaustive list can be made in our links as things get going. So for now: thanks to those who have laid the groundwork for this by seeding our minds with the idea that this can be done…
- The contributing editors were invited to start this project because I realized that to have (what the business and communications folk call) “early adoption” or “buy-in” from the “stakeholders”, NewPoetry.ca needed recognizable names from many different communities to be seen as both leaders and peers. It needed readers to see people like Christian and Carmine on the same editorial board, two people who have actually had their critical disagreements and talks billed as “Cage Matches”. It needed to have Afua Cooper, a dub poet who 25 years ago would have had trouble having her art recognized as poetry. It needed Michael Lista, who only weeks ago was pilloried for seeming to say that little magazines maybe needed a culling. It needed a wide variety of people acting as both individuals and a single organism, one that can stretch its poetic pseudopods into the nooks and crannies of poetry that no single editor could find alone. There was no intention to canonize (would that I had that power!), but there was an intention to have some name recognition, so that the largest possible of people might see something akin to their own aesthetic represented. Obviously, many more were not invited than were—in part to move quickly, in part in an attempt to focus the list, and in part because we just can’t have a committee of EVERYONE. Many of my closest literary friends and colleagues were not invited. They didn’t even know about the project until it was announced. Why? Because that’s incidental. What was best for the project was to see possibilities generated by fields of production bumping up against one another. So a few were invited to create a space quickly for the collaborations to come…
Anyway, I hope some of what I’ve said makes sense. I almost hestiate to write, because I know that on the web the slightest slip in language or logic can unleash a firestorm of criticism. But I’d feel worse if I were to let these criticisms sit with their authors and not be aired here. As I said, I’d like to get the others in here so that this doesn’t seem to be a community led by one. It’s a community led by a community. Would love to hear what you think.