Monday, April 12, 2010

Distractions, digressions, nationalistic feelings and literary mudfights on the internet

There have been many, of late. Do we all have spring fever?

Good V evil
Originally uploaded by Shahireh.

The Globe and Mail wrote a fine editorial praising "industrialist Scott Griffin" for his upping of his namesake poetry prize; unfortunately they had to quote an American poet to do it. Do with Emily Dickinson what you will (and I'd prefer to leave her in the attic, but that's just my opinion) but the fact that the fine folks at Canada's other national newspaper couldn't find a single poem by a single living Canadian poet to quote from is mighty unfortunate, to say the least, and it perhaps underscores the need for patrons like Mr. Griffin to put some financial heft behind our national literature in order to demonstrate "to the rest of the world that Canada holds poetry to be as critical to its culture as more popular pursuits such as writing a hit song, and ... establish Canada as a mature, literate Western nation with an intact soul." Soul; schmoul, I can think of 40 Canadian poets off the top of my head who could have been quoted in this editorial!

In any case I have been having a delightful debate in the comments field of this story with some individual who feels that poetry in Canada has gone downhill since "poetry was captured by Postmodern pretensions, or politicized by marxists in the English departments, whose literacy extends to comic books and Japanese anime." Fun!

Ian Brown thinks that sneaking poetry into the office is a perfect waste of time. I used to sneak poetry out of the office...snippets of texts, conversations, meetings. I was forever emailing words and phrases to myself at home. The comment streams of news stories were quite fruitful. In his article, Mr. Brown does mention the names of the Canadians nominated for this year's Griffin prize, and name-drops Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes (U.K.), Francis Turner Palgrave (U.K.), Stanley Kunitz (U.S.), Ben Jonson (U.K.), Percy Bysshe Shelley and the Norton Anthology of English Literature (natch) but he quotes: Thom Gunn (U.K.-U.S.), Ian McEwan (U.K.), J.V. Cunningham (U.S.), Frank O'Hara (U.S.) and Mary Oliver (U.S.).

I think Mr. Brown is a good journalist and I enjoy his columns, but I think we need to sneak him some Canadian poetry ASAP, c/o Globe and Mail. Anyone?

Stephen Patrick Clare and Trevor Adams, authors of Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books, are working on a collaborative Canada's 100 Greatest Books project, to be published in book form in 2011, however they've taken criticism from people like Sean Cranbury for not including poetry or drama in their allowable genres and for not using a transparent, quantifiable method for tallying the votes. They now appear to be trying to rectify at least the omission of poetry and drama, if their Facebook wall is to be believed. These two also mention "the soul of a nation" in their project statement...what's with all this "soul" business? The entire concept gives me hives, but I wish them luck.


Nikki Reimer enjoys a good fight, on or offline.


Daniel Zomparelli said...

I noticed the online fights as well and I am thoroughly enjoying. Not to mention anti-AWP poets, Academic vs. non-Academic poets, and a little one only privvy to our Facebook accounts.

And I was about to lose my shit when I saw this as well:

"poetry was captured by Postmodern pretensions, or politicized by marxists in the English departments, whose literacy extends to comic books and Japanese anime."

But I noticed a certain someone had posted a giant list of poets in Canada and I noticed your name wasn't there, so I assumed it was you. The commenter seemed confused by poets because honestly, they probably don't read poetry.

I'm kinda in love with all the sassiness going on, but it's really funny that all this infighting will result in zero increase in interest for poetry.

Lemon Hound said...

They think there is a 100 great Canadian books?

They think this is an important undertaking?

Seriously. Poetry is all Busby Berkley.

Disperse, disperse, disperse.

nikki reimer said...

I want a middle space for informed discussion online but we mostly get mindless promotion or insecure ranting. I find it disheartening.

No, wait, that's what we're doing here!