Sunday, November 12, 2006

foulipo and drunken boat #8

In my round-up of journals I forgot to mention the new issue of Drunken Boat, which contains a folio of Canadian writing I edited. It's a slim feature with many ghostly contributors whose work you will find on this blog either to come, or in the archives, or on the links when I can figure out how to move them to the beta blogger. The Drunken Boat also has an exhaustive Oulipo folio containing among other excellent essays and poems, an essay by Juliana Spahr/Stephanie Young, which asks the questions we've all been thinking for a while now, and murmuring about behind the scenes...
In the middle of all this convesation we wote to Craig Dworkin and asked him what was up with all the men and thei love of estictive, numbe based pocesses and he said he didn't know but he told us a joke about a photogaph he once saw of himself and Kenny Goldsmith, Rob Fitterman, Christian Bök, and Darren Wershler-Henry, all in a line, all basically the same age, same stocky build, same bad haicuts, and black t-shits. We could think of no photogaph of Jena Osman, Nada Gordon, Caroline Bergvall, Joan Retallack, Johanna Drucker, and Harryette Mullen all looking the same age, same build, same bad haicuts, same black t-shits. Fo some eason this wok did not unite them. And how thee still seemed, like Michelle Grangaud, elected to the Oulipo in 1995, oom fo only one o two women wites to build a caee in this categoy.
What they suggest is a new category called foulipo.
We thought about Caroline Bergvall's wok, like "About Face," which might be one of the foundational woks of foulipo if foulipo had foundational woks because it is witten out of the emoval of a painful tooth and the wok seems to be slendeizing he face.
And I say, yes, my thought exactly. No offense, I adore you Christian Bok and derek beaulieu, Darren Werschler Henry, Kenneth Goldsmith et al...but why not our own coterie? Never mind looking to the big old Poetry Daddy's for approval, what woman do you want to read your work and go, Oh, yah, that's where I'm heading...

I know who that is for me, though I don't always have a way of connecting with those women and I'm not sure why that is: accessibility, scheduling, a different kind of network, or do we just file ourselves in and focus upward? Is there a Silliwoman out there? Is there someone keeping all the darts in a row, categorizing and canonizing the work? Or, is the work just assembling: Lyn Hejinian, Carla Harryman, Ann Waldman, Susan Howe, Alice Notley, Rae Armantrout, Gail Scott, Lisa Robertson, Erin Moure, Joan Retallack, Rachel Blau Duplessis...and yes, Juliana Spahr, Jena Osman, Elizabeth Treadwell, Mairead Byrne, Carole Mirakove, Rachel Levitsky, Margaret Christakos, Elizabeth Willis, Gail Scott, Renee Gladman, Mary Burger...and overflowing in its excellentness? I'm stopping only because I have laundry to do...and I can't name all of the hot young poets doing curatorial and editorial work...but where is the center I wonder? And what direction?

The center problem is a big one and certainly I don't expect any easy answer. I can look admiringly at folks like Jena Osman, Juliana Spahr, Claudia Rankine, Elizabeth Frost, etc., who are doing amazing work on our behalf. In terms of the poetry however, and a future feminist poetic, I did argue on an earlier post, and in the Brooklyn Rail, that Caroline Bergvall is a new model for an experimental poetic, one that offers new ways for women to investigate language and sound while allowing themselves to experience the headier performative elements of the Boks and Goldsmith's of the world. Taking up an innovative space that is in fact radically feminist...and rooted in the above poets, but moving into a space heretofore claimed by the boys of poetry.

And this bore out when I saw/heard Bergvall read at Fordam in the summer. The 4 Shorter Chaucer Tales are in your face experimental feminist innovations, that are risky, and political, and fun. Bergvall is having fun, and kicking ass...and yes, creating new routes for us to follow. Not sure how this relates to all the flarf fluff fireworks, but I admire Bergvall's ability to have fun and be relevant, or maybe that's not a good word, I guess to provide a polemic of some kind, one that moves us forward... but this is raw and thinking still. Just some thoughts.

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