Sunday, June 13, 2010

Brief update

Unleashed gets some love. And over at Lambda both Expressway and Unleashed get a little action. Thanks to the reviewers.

Back in Montreal after a whirlwind trip to Toronto--sorry to those I said I would visit and didn't. Did manage to get my locks shorn, and did manage the LCP reading at Bar Italia last night--though I didn't stay for the final readers, mea culpa.

Panel yesterday with Jenny Sampirisi and Lola Tostevin was great, I thought, followed by good questions that could have gone on if we had more time. Tostevin is preparing a new book that I'm very much looking forward to, as is Sampirisi. Croak is going to rock. No doubt about it. Someone best snap it up. You can find an excerpt of Croak over at The Puritan. Seriously. Thanks for a great panel you two.

One of the questions asked after the panel on Saturday was how far can a poet go, or let go, or let be, as I was describing, a bit unruly, before the poem is considered too obscure, too difficult. I also assumed that in this question, which I am paraphrasing here since I don't recall with absolute certainty how it was originally phrased, that the person asking was also interested in the question of how much effort need a reader make before concluding the poem is not for him or her, or less generously, that it's crap and not worth the effort, and so on.

I've spoken about this in several interviews so I won't go on too much here, but I think it's an important question. To me, the work of Erin Moure, Lisa Robertson, Jorie Graham, Rae Armantrout, Lynn Hejinian all now feels quite familiar, but in each case there was a long period of unease as I situated myself in it...the same unease I felt when I discovered Beckett as an undergraduate, or Woolf, or Stein... The same unease when I began to read Shakespeare, or Freud, or Judy Butler, or Georgio Agamben.

For me difficulty is usually about unfamiliarity. There are relatively few poets that I engage with that I regret the time spent. If I do, I tend to get testy, as we all do, but it's not that often. To me, there are many poets and writers that I'm simply not interested in, or don't have or don't want to make the time for. It isn't that it might not be worth it. It's that life is short and there are many, many books. I didn't mind carrying Lisa Robertson around for a year as I learned to read her. There are others I do mind and am not inclined to put in the work needed to truly *get* their project.

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