Monday, May 03, 2010

Tour Quotes, Real and Imagined

Are you the right kind of poet? Do you write the right kind of poetry? Are you friends with the right poets? Can they advance your career? Have you signed with the right publisher? Are you being disingenuous? Where is the theory behind your work? Can you defend it? With footnotes?

That’s a poem.

No, that’s an anecdote.

There’s a poem.

No, that was a pithy observation.

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I’ve been on book tour all this past week and have been overwhelmed with excitements good and bad, highs and lows, ups and downs, lack of sleep, exciting words, lack of sleep and, um, lack of sleep. Granted, that’s not critical thought, that’s just “feelings.”

I read that book; it wasn’t very good.

My publisher had taken the perhaps unprecedented step of publishing 10 books of poetry together, and calling it "Dektet." Which led me to a tour event in two cities with 9 other poets, none of whom I'd previously met.

Now write the "i got so wasted, and then...." narrative anecdotal subjectivist poem. Do it! (Then publish it under the name of one of your poetry enemies.)

I’ve been humbled and encouraged by the diversity of voices and approaches that I encountered in the other writers. There truly are countless ways to live poetry.

Thank you for introducing me to this “art” business; I was pleasantly surprised.

I did remember that wine always makes me sick.

I was feeling a bit nervous because I wasn’t sure what to expect tonight, but I was really impressed by all the poets.

Sina recently posted “I hate the cuts too...but seriously...we can't sell 5,000 copies of a lit mag annually? What are we doing in the arts?” on Frackbook, in response to a Star article on the federal Publications Assistance Program/Canada Magazine Fund cuts. The party line in these parts (Metro Vancouver, West Coast of Canada), at least amidst the KSW/academic poetry crowd, as far as I understand it, is that “we” are largely uninterested in expanding/diversifying our audiences, in part because our poetry is inherently difficult and the expansion of our audiences could possibly cheapen the reading and discussion experience; also because the act of marketing our poetry is anathema to the poetry itself.

Poets aren’t part of schools; they’re part of cliques.

Several friends and relatives who were it not for me would never have been anywhere near a reading attended, and by all accounts, enjoyed the Dektet launch and the 10 diverse poets who read. Many bought books, and not just mine. They were intrigued, excited and inspired by the possibilities of language.

This leads me to believe that we do in fact have an advertising problem.

If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.

So what are we doing in the arts? In poetry? In general? In words? In language?

In the future, the girls are gonna be spiky.

(Words stolen and modified from DM, TN, DC, KG, ED, KG.)

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Nikki Reimer is the author of [sic] (Frontenac House) and fist things first (Wrinkle Press Chapbook). She lives in Vancouver.

9 comments:

Lemon Hound said...

So glad the girls are going to be spiky.

Yes, I know that's the KSWs line. it's a lot of people's line, and I get that. Perhaps that's the difference though, between a "lit" mag and an "academic" journal, only ever intending to publish to a small, specialized audience.

I love West Coast Line (or Line as it's called now) and TCR, for instance, and see those as the specialized variety.

Magazines like Malahat, Taddle Creek, TNQ etc., seem to be aiming for a wider audience don't they?

Congrats on your first book tour, Nikki.

m said...

I think there is room in poetry for a spectrum, just like in movies or novels. (Although I'm sure no one wants to claim or aspire to be the Danielle Steele/Tom Clancy of poetry.)

I'm not in the KSW camp, although I love to be challenged by their work. But I also read more of the accessible stuff. I know the poetry I write is more on the accessible spectrum and I'm happy with that. I'm just thrilled to learn that people other than my friends or family read my (and other people's) poetry. I think it's great. Bring on the audience!

p.s. Nikki, I'm sorry I missed the launch in Edmonton. I was looking forward to hearing you read and meeting you. Next time you're in town...

nikki reimer said...

Thanks Sina and Marita.

(I like to mix it up in terms of 'accessible' and 'difficult' myself, but that could be because coteries of any kind make me uncomfortable.)

NJC said...

I love the comments that seem to fly around Frontenac launches (I've had similar encounters @ Quartet launches). I appreciate the open manner of speech that poetry "dabblers" often seem to have.
Regardless of the difficulty or accessibility of poetry it all seems to have a specialized audience to me. I enjoy this blog because it respects (all sorts of) poetry in a smart and demanding way. I too am looking forward to spiky girls.

Anonymous said...

"KSW/academic poetry crowd"?

Since when was KSW academic?

Lemon Hound said...

Hey Anonymous.

nikki reimer said...

Full disclaimer: I've been part of KSW from 2005-6 and Jan 2009 to present.

I am the only current, active KSW member to possess but a BA after my name. Every single other member has either/or and MA or Phd in literature. There are active professors, retired professors, and individuals entering Phd programs in literature to become, one assumes, professors.

Though the aims of KSW may not be academic, the simple fact that so many of the active individuals are engaged with the academy in their non-KSW time *can* make KSW a de facto academic space.

I don't wish to speak any further on this, however, especially not in anonymity.

nikki reimer said...

"an" MA, not "and" MA

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks Nikki. That's what I assumed. Even in my days of being exposed to, not a member, but exposed to KSW, which would be the 80s, the academy was always part of the mix.

I'm trying to think of poetry worlds that are not tied to the academy...or poets who don't want to be tied to it.

This makes me extremely sad, to be honest. As though we are, even as a creative people, abdicating our imagination in terms of possible lifestyles and heading down a small, very narrow, untenable stream given the numbers...

I meet so few poets who aren't bucking for the Professor of Creative Writing gig...as I said, even those who actively critique it are driving down a one-way street headed straight toward it.