Monday, December 01, 2008

Neoliberal Poetry?


Engrossed, originally uploaded by The Badger Revolution.

Could she be reading a book of poetry? Or possibly the Neoliberal Poetry Broadside? You can find it here. Where I got mine I can't tell you. It slipped out of a pile of chapbooks I've been trying to organize and review the one's I can review so who knows where I got it. I was happy to find it though, if mildly irritated by a line or two. Mostly I was amused. Though it made me wonder whether it's "neoliberal poetry" that has been making me so cranky of late. Wading through a whack of poetry (reviews to come) I became very irritated. So much posturing and so little to say.
Here is the typical language of branding: “Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me, Inc. . . . the main chance is becoming a free agent in an economy of free agents, looking to have the best season you can imagine in your field, looking to do your best work & chalk up a remarkable track record, & looking to establish your own micro equivalent of the Nike swoosh.” Under neoliberalism, the contemporary poetry scene–especially the “innovative” scene – has succumbed to branding...
Though no branch of poetry is immune. The "I just write what I feel" school which is "tantamount to the quiver of a jellyfish-like sentimentality..." Yes, and no feeling at all...if a poem is going to feel, let it feel. I can take it. Make it intense. If it's going to be all cerebral go for it. Make it way out there. Make me have to spend a weekend reading... Is it wrong to want a poem to say something? "Which one of your little piggies will you chop off first," the pamphlet asks, "because there are just two positions in the neoliberal order:
Cynicism: the willingness to cut your feet to order
Infantilism: the happy-talk that blinds the other 4 piggies to their predicament
This is a broadside out of Brooklyn. A send up many things, the MFA grad scene, the way in which we talk about poetry, the earnest battle lines, the painful Q&As, the courtly aspects, the characters--Deconstruction Dick etc.

We do take ourselves seriously. More on this when I get to the larger questions lurking in the back of this pamphlet, and my irritation.

There is a pdf, or html version here.

Neoliberal Poetry, Chris Alexander, Kristen Gallagher, Matthias Regan, Brooklyn March, 2007

9 comments:

Chris said...

I was also mildly, maybe pleasantly irritated by it but generally into it. Maybe I should reread it.

Lemon Hound said...

Yes, I agree with several of your statements, in theory. This one: "I am in favor of one that aims towards improving particular situations, one that is aimed not at poets but at people who aren't aware of how poetry works in their lives, one that is built more on listening and understanding than on writing."

But I am not sure that means anything about the kind of poetry one engages in. Anyhow, I am perhaps just mildly cranky. The sun goes down too early...

Chris said...

I am, of course, always mildly cranky...

But no, it wouldn't say anything about the kind of poetry one engages in. That would depend on your context. It's not, I suppose, a terribly helpful guideline, except that there is often so much pressure towards the utopian, towards the totalizing.

The captcha word is "unction", which is maybe poignant.

Matt said...

I think the key word here is Ugh!

Lemon Hound said...

Ugh as in you dislike intensely, Matt?

Matt said...

I guess. These people just seem kind of pushy.

Lemon Hound said...

Ha. Yes, and at least as irritating as they are irritated...

VanessaP said...

You, LH, are being too coy. There's an adolescence afoot here which has nothing to do with age and everything to do with hedging one's bets, and blowing smoke up the skirts of others is the easiest dodge of all.

Lemon Hound said...

Me being coy?