Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Poetry Magazine gets up in your face


Please read the following pieces posted recently on Poetry Foundation, one by Abe Louise Young, the other by Raymond McDaniel. These are timely pieces that prod at questions of appropriation. Here is a link to the source of McDaniel's appropriation, and here's a link to one of the poems (which I have added above after finding a video of the same poem). Of course there is a sense (assumption) here that it is only conceptual writing that appropriates and is thus to be blamed for pushing us into this quagmire of accountability and crisis of content/meaning...ha, I say. Lyric appropriation has been going on since poets began listening. Conceptual writing just ups the ante.

But it's a good discussion. A necessary and timely one.

And yes, maybe we need a new movement...or a non-movement?

For the record, I never find myself asking what Henry Gould thinks. If he wants me to know, he'll tell me.

31 comments:

VanessaP said...

It is a silly conversation; the ethical gesture does not lie in any particular technique but rather in the gesture itself. Which is the work itself. Put another way, is it more ethical to "create" a Holocaust poem or write a fiction about slavery than it is to reproduce the actual documentation? Is reproduction ever ethical--or is production? Does the world need yet another fake snowflake?

Lemon Hound said...

Silly? That's pretty dismissive. And how is ethical a gesture? Sure one approach is not more "ethical." I'm not sure how the fake snow flake fits in here.

On the other hand, one of my first paying jobs was as a cub reporter. My first task, every morning before school, was to gather and rewrite police and weather reports.

Never thought I would make a career out of it but yes, I admit I was a damn good rewriter. It's quite a skill.

Of course as such there was no tagline. No real author function. That only came with my first feature.

;-)

VanessaP said...

Very dismissive, and rightly so. There is of course no presumptive ethical approach--that is the point of noting the silliness of the prior conversation. It was also amusing that when the initial question "is appropriation ethical" was posited, people apparently felt comfortable actually answering it in the general sense, but when I asked the corresponding question "is creativity ethical," there was the refusal to answer--or rather, the obvious answer that it might depend on the situation. The ethical is a gesture, not an articulation. In other words, the gesture lies in the articulation, in all senses.

Lemon Hound said...

From Don Share's FB stream:
Vanessa Place My question is whether it is more or less ethical to appropriate a lived experience than to fabricate one, whether one form of simulation or the simulacrum is more moral than another and if so, why?
22 hours ago · Like

>>
Yes, but is it a matter of aligning ethical with lived?

I agree, the question of fabrication is a good one. Interesting that we are, in a sense, privileging one kind of appropriation. Listen to Heather McHugh talk about her process of writing on Poetry Foundation. She recounts verbatim a conversation heard on the radio which she then goes on to craft a poem from. Using much of the conversation from the poem.

Why is that a "genuine" "lyric" gesture and not these poems by McDaniel, for example.

VanessaP said...

No, of course not. There is no alignment, just as there is no disjunction. Some ventriloquize very well, some reek of it. Though it is interesting that one would juxtapose "genuine" with "lyric" as if there is some sort of authenticity to be had. And if one is so enamored of the authentic, then certainly the more authentic would be the more unmediated. Steal, don't sneak. Honor among thieves. On the other hand, perhaps this is all hopeless, given that the conversation appears mostly about turf rights rather than ethical engagements.

Lemon Hound said...

"Some ventriloquize very well, some reek of it."

I don't think people are seeing this as the crux of the point, Ms. Place.

And perhaps it IS about turf rights...I wish I could hear from a few more folks. This is one comment stream discussion that I would love to hear more of.

Solid Quarter said...

I have a longer response here:
http://solidquarter.blogspot.com/

But as a poet from New Orleans who was here for Katrina, let me just point out what bothers me most: the missed opportunity to highlight the oral history projects and poetry written by New Orleanians after the storm once again.

Lemon Hound said...

I hear your beef, Solid Quarter, but do you really think it's possible to dictate how people react to a piece of art? Is there a right and/or wrong response? I read this dialog as a slender bit of a much larger thought process. I wouldn't be too quick to judge people's responses and/or how they choose to discuss the issue.

Lemon Hound said...

Okay, I've just gone over to the Harriet site where the shame and blame quotient is through the roof:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/journal/article.html?id=239906&commentsubmit=true#lastcomment

seriously.

Solid Quarter said...

I'm not judging the people who are responding and debating; I just find the whole conversation self-serving at worst and boring to me, at best. I blame the site for not taking the time to highlight an array of amazing New Orleans poets and instead trying to inflame a debate about a non-issue, IMHO. Great, let's all go read his book and form our own opinions, but I would hope the participants would dig a little deeper if they are truly moved by the Katrina situation and the people of New Orleans. It would be both ethical and creative of them, eh?

pam said...

sure, if content and scale don't matter, then all conversations (esp. about poetry) are silly.

this conversation isn't silly, but it's inadequate. the real point is not about appropriation, which lies at the basis of just about any piece of art that makes cultural references, but the frame around appropriation, which far exceeds the frame of most poetics conversations, which tend to default to 1) form, 2a) scandal, and 2b) simplistic, agonistic presentations of an argument between two "sides."

it's a turf war because the enclosure around the turf and the terms of war and the range of conversation is so rigidly defined and rarely examined.

what gets lost for me is the question of engagement. the scale of engagement, and the engagement with scale.

Lemon Hound said...

I'm not sure what you're referring to here. Can you say a little more about the frame? Are you insinuating intention? I can't quite follow. How is it inadequate? No doubt it is, but not sure where you want it to go.

pam said...

i'm referring to the boundaries of the conversation itself, the direction in which it's going. i'm being intentionally cryptic & reactive here in this commentbox, trying to chart my initial reactions to the harriet issue as they unfold. i'll have a fuller response to your questions after i've had a chance to digest all the articles & comments in question.

pam said...

There’s a lot that could be said regarding this matter, but frankly I find the whole thing beyond depressing. McDaniel doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s gotten; the appropriation he performs is practically a non-issue, as he performs it in service of a book that seems meant in a big way to make readers more aware of a culturally neglected geography that includes Katrina victims & survivors. And he acknowledges his sources respectfully and quite clearly encourages readers to visit and support the oral history site. This would seem to be fairly straight-up case of “ethical” poetic appropriation. He didn’t seek permission, true, and if the site did clearly have a note about permissions when he visited it, then I think given the nature & scale of the testimony he should have honored the participants’ authority & confidentiality and sought permission. But that he failed to or chose not to hardly makes him nefarious. “Permission” is one of the words that come up incessantly in the Harriet comments. Another one is “apology.” I find it disturbing that several commentators report that McDaniel tried to contact Young a number of times with something like an apology but was turned away, and now they apparently only communicate with each other through the publisher and their respective lawyers? If McDaniel doesn’t adopt a more apologetic tone in his article, as one might have hoped, it could simply be that he’s been advised not to by his lawyer or his publisher’s lawyer, to avoid any admission of culpability. Young wants to start a national conversation, but I don’t see how such a large-scale conversation can have any substantive meaning if the two primary parties in this case can’t even have a person-to-person dialogue. Several outraged commentators demand that McDaniel issue a public apology; this kind of thing always depresses me because it implies that apologies (never mind if they’re sincere) can be wrested from someone through applications of power. The disempowered may feel temporarily bolstered through this exercise (which also temporarily assuages the need for some form of accountability, the culpable individual standing in for the culpable system), but power itself is never critiqued. This is beyond demoralizing for me, but I digress. What’s really depressing is that Young says some really excellent things in her article, but these things are lost because they are now coupled with her accusations against McDaniel. If you SQ/LH are planning to teach these articles in your class then perhaps you & your students can actually decouple them, and have a real conversation about Young’s decision to not respond poetically to her oral narrators’ testimony and her thoughts on earlier examples of documentary poetry of witness, including the extended time & personal commitments of the poets involved, as well as the comments from various Alive in Truth volunteers talking about how hard they worked to provide real disaster relief to the oral history participants, how the oral testimonies were just one part of the whole effort. Not to mention the general point about how disaster victims benefit the least from disaster tourism, disaster fetish. But if it’s a class on Conceptualism, do such issues fall outside the scope of relevance? Come to think of it, McDaniel’s book & article also fall outside the scope. Or maybe not. But what’s really, really depressing is how the scale & content of the Katrina disaster itself gets lost amid all this controversial poetics scrambling, these poets scrambling to attack one another or salvage their reputations. The Katrina survivors are pushed to the background, to make way for what’s really important here in the conversation: not poetry even, but poets.

pam said...

There’s a lot that could be said regarding this matter, but frankly I find the whole thing beyond depressing. McDaniel doesn’t deserve the treatment he’s gotten; the appropriation he performs is practically a non-issue, as he performs it in service of a book that seems meant in a big way to make readers more aware of a culturally neglected geography that includes Katrina victims & survivors. And he acknowledges his sources respectfully and quite clearly encourages readers to visit and support the oral history site. This would seem to be fairly straight-up case of “ethical” poetic appropriation. He didn’t seek permission, true, and if the site did clearly have a note about permissions when he visited it, then I think given the nature & scale of the testimony he should have honored the participants’ authority & confidentiality and sought permission. But that he failed to or chose not to hardly makes him nefarious. “Permission” is one of the words that come up incessantly in the Harriet comments. Another one is “apology.” I find it disturbing that several commentators report that McDaniel tried to contact Young a number of times with something like an apology but was turned away, and now they apparently only communicate with each other through the publisher and their respective lawyers? If McDaniel doesn’t adopt a more apologetic tone in his article, as one might have hoped, it could simply be that he’s been advised not to by his lawyer or his publisher’s lawyer, to avoid any admission of culpability. Young wants to start a national conversation, but I don’t see how such a large-scale conversation can have any substantive meaning if the two primary parties in this case can’t even have a person-to-person dialogue. Several outraged commentators demand that McDaniel issue a public apology; this kind of thing always depresses me because it implies that apologies (never mind if they’re sincere) can be wrested from someone through applications of power. The disempowered may feel temporarily bolstered through this exercise (which also temporarily assuages the need for some form of accountability, the culpable individual standing in for the culpable system), but power itself is never critiqued. This is beyond demoralizing for me, but I digress. What’s really depressing is that Young says some really excellent things in her article, but these things are lost because they are now coupled with her accusations against McDaniel. If you SQ/LH are planning to teach these articles in your class then perhaps you & your students can actually decouple them, and have a real conversation about Young’s decision to not respond poetically to her oral narrators’ testimony and her thoughts on earlier examples of documentary poetry of witness, including the extended time & personal commitments of the poets involved, as well as the comments from various Alive in Truth volunteers talking about how hard they worked to provide real disaster relief to the oral history participants, how the oral testimonies were just one part of the whole effort. Not to mention the general point about how disaster victims benefit the least from disaster tourism, disaster fetish. But if it’s a class on Conceptualism, do such issues fall outside the scope of relevance? Come to think of it, McDaniel’s book & article also fall outside the scope. Or maybe not. But what’s really, really depressing is how the scale & content of the Katrina disaster itself gets lost amid all this controversial poetics scrambling, these poets scrambling to attack one another or salvage their reputations. The Katrina survivors are pushed to the background, to make way for what’s really important here in the conversation: not poetry even, but poets.

Lemon Hound said...

Thanks for the post, Pam. And also SQ. There are several levels here, and part of my response should really go in its own post (the one in progress), but frankly I can't imagine doing anything more than scratching the surface here: these questions are large. Assumptions are large. Accusations are large. Several of the glaring assumptions here are:

Poetry can make change/help the survivors of Katrina

Poets are "gaining" somehow "financially" etc., from writing poetry

Poets are suspicious, culpable, and this is tied somehow to authenticity, honesty, willingness to come to the table with an appropriate "apologetic" tone and/or gesture

Discussions of the issues, appropriative, poetic, are described as "self-serving at worst and boring to me, at best"

Readers want action post-Katrina, not poems

Any kind of intellectual response is merely a "turf war"

So this is about right action, about an ethical reading? But whose reading?

I agree its sad that this is becoming about poets and personality. I was sad to learn that Ms. Young is trying to quash this text, has contacted the publisher etc. I understand that there is some sense of stories being stolen. That's a conversation we need to have. What does it mean to steal a story? How is that different from, as you point out above Pam, reframing, transforming, augmenting, as it seems McDaniel's book does.

and so on...

Lemon Hound said...

See also Don Share's recent blog post on the matter

http://donshare.blogspot.com/2010/08/source-texts-sore-subjects.html

kaie.k said...

hello, a note from a devoted reader: in the act of finding and collecting things that others have said, the poet benefits from the ambiguities surrounding authorship and ownership. when the poet's collection is published, the poet's name is printed on the front cover, the book is submitted for awards, and the machinery of promotion and publishing kicks in, the poet begins to benefit from a firm, unambiguous notion of authorship.

cynically speaking, the poet is laying a slick hustle on us, by affirming the existence of authorship under certain conditions, and denying or contesting it under others, yet benefiting from both sets of conditions.

less cynically, the poet is trying to survive in, benefit from, and hold in place 2 different economies - the gift economy on the one hand, and the capitalist economy on the other. this seems to be a situation that can lead to exploitation, as in the case of...the blues. for me, that's where the ethical questions surrounding appropriation begin to pop up.

Chris said...

One of the two Harriet commentators is interested in poetry for what poetry says, for what it is about, for its narrative content, for its ability to "witness", which is to say, for an approach to language "as advertised", for poetry as well-turned prose, documentation made pleasant or memorable, for language as strictly serving its authorial intents.

The other is interested in poetry as an alternative to language "as advertised", as an approach to language that questions language, and opens it up to other possibilities (and other pleasures), and for allowing language to "miss its target".

Each depends on undermining the other. If poetry is a source of power, and the ethical thing to do is to give that power to people without other means of power, then troubling that source of power becomes unethical. If poetry is an exploratory tool that can bring expected revelation or pleasure through sparks that happen when the power grid is damaged, then the insistence on maintaining the power grid is an unethical denial of revelation and pleasure.

I think the former is less ethical than the latter. For one thing, I don't think the power of the original texts is diminished by their appropriation; I don't think the politic usefulness is diminished (and honestly, I don't feel like they were as politically useful as the compiler does; and honestly, the fact that the compiler is the one responding on Harriet "on behalf of" the people whose stories she has collected makes her seem just as guilty of appropriation as anyone) by their appropriation. For another thing, I think the world (and poetry) is simply more interesting if we allow this sort of appropriation (and most others), and I want the world to be more interesting, and I think that poetry has a better chance of making the world a more interesting place than to make the world a more ethically or politically just place. And, finally, I'm just not sure how "ethical" it is to impose limits on other people's interactions with the language that surrounds them (though I'd have to think more about the implications of that).

Chris said...

"the poet is laying a slick hustle on us, by affirming the existence of authorship under certain conditions, and denying or contesting it under others, yet benefiting from both sets of conditions."

That's only true if they complain when their texts get appropriated in a similar fashion!

(It is still weird to hear people talk about poets and then jump to their books being submitted for prizes or enjoying the fruits of capitalist promotions. Oh, Canada!)

Shannon Maguire said...

There are a number of things at stake in the articles that you cite. I reserve comment on the specifics of the Abe Louise Young-Ray McDaniel debate until I’ve read the book of poems and the source material. However, I would like to make a few comments and offer a few provocations on the subject of ethics and appropriation in contemporary poetics because I see these areas as critical and not, as Ms. Place suggests, beside the point and laughable.

Two recent books in the Canadian context directly address the issues at stake in framing otherwise invisible narratives so that they “read”—at least in contemporary poetry circles. These are: Sachiko Murakami’s “The Invisibility Project” and M. NourbeSe Philip’s “Zong!”. Both poets think through in a conscious way the problematics and ethics of language and they specifically use the poem and the larger structure of the book as a site of thought.

In the spring of 2010, Murakami was a participating poet in Margaret Chirstakos’ Influency Salon in Toronto where she read from and discussed the “The Invisibility Exhibit”. Saying that by the end of writing the first section, the premise of lyric poetry itself seemed to her untenable (at least for this project), she also claimed that she felt unable to represent Vancouver’s missing women in a direct way and instead had always been interested in the blind spots in Canadian middle-class media culture that allowed these women to become invisible and expendable. Thus, the poet’s own qualified privilege and position was taken into account in the frames of the book without becoming an exercise in autobiography or navel gazing. None of the poems in Murakami’s collection are comfortable, all require the thoughtful engagement of the reader, and while some are more successful at foregrounding the social conditions and prejudices that continue to operate in the effacement of women, particularly those whose class, race and professions are actively constructed as lesser-than in mainstream Canadian culture, none of the poems approach their thinking-through of language from an authoritative or appropriative framework.

I think that one of the keys to creating complex work in poetry is to approach the work as a process of thought, not as a medium to transparently “contain” a “message”. While one cannot “give voice” to another, one can think in a public way about the language itself that mobilizes and suppresses power and subject positions. It is indeed this kind of public thinking that M. NourbeSe Philip does in “Zong!”. While she is writing about people, kidnapped, transformed from “persons” into “slaves” by legal processes and ultimately murdered by drowning for profit and insurance fraud by their legal “owners”, thus writing not directly about those still living, the main emphasis of the work is a linguistic deconstruction of voice. The document that she uses as a source of her conceptual procedures is the only remaining legal artifact (and indeed the only artifact) that bares evidence of their existence. She includes in her book, a long afterward that documents her process and the historical evidence of her subjects. Most of all, it is the compelling gaps and echos that occur in her poems that unmoor the reader and compel thought as well as emotion.

To me, these two poets engage in ethical poetic practices by virtue of the fact that room is left for silence, for contradiction, and for difficult questions that extend to themselves and their poetic practices as well as the reader. What is less important than form is structure. The structure of thought that shapes the poem and the book.

Lemon Hound said...

Ms. Maguire, a brief response, and likely too hastily drafted... I don't think Ms. Place thinks the questions are silly, rather some of the discussion. She has written extensively about the conceptual poetry and indeed her own work, Statement of Facts, is an appropriative piece that raises serious and complicated issues regarding discourses, legal, appropriative, etc. But I can let her speak for herself if she wants...

It's good to see both Murakami and Philip's work brought into the discussion. I am more familiar with Zong and have written myself about the difficulty of encountering that text, my having to learn how to read it. Not only because of the complexity and force of the emotional and intellectual work (on Philips part) recreating voices that have been wiped out (beyond marginalization, murdered and eliminated from history...) but because of the way in which Philip creates the text itself.

Coming to that text was not easy. As it was not easy for Philip to create. As you point out there is an extensive afterward in which she methodically traces and makes transparent her process. As a reader I felt I had to bring the same kind of attention and respect to my reading, that I had to mindful of my own processes and assumptions.

It seems that the scaffolding, the emotional and intellectual trace of process is what is being lamented here...the lack of it...

More to say but no time to formulate...what I wanted to highlight is the idea of the "public thinking." This is, to me, the greatest challenge and gift of these kind of conceptual and appropriative texts. They are not, in the way that Kent Johnson wants to suggest, simply lifting and packaging language: they reinvent, re-contextualize, illuminate by juxtaposing or reassembling...they make us take account of such archival material, such voices. They in fact, bring our attention to these rich pools, not only of language, but of consciousness.

I haven't read the McDaniel text in full either, but from what I have read I sense this is what's going on, not, as is suggested, a flattening, a deadening, an immoral and outright act of thievery...

I am all for work that thinks publicly. I hope that more people can learn to come to this work on its own terms.

VanessaP said...

But again, my question remains: leaving aside the particulars of the McDaniel work (because any case can be distinguished on its particulars), there is a fundamental assumption that one can speak in generalities about that which is appropriated versus that which is fabricated. The point is that it is all the same. I don't mean this in the narrow and received sense of all is given or that we are all parrots, but that quite literally there is no ethical distinction between forms or content qua form or content. It is again a matter of the con- in the context. What are the frames in which we work and how does the work make these frames. So that the very question of improprieties is a veil upon which other things may be written. In this sense, Zong may well be critiqued for the intervention into history (however sensitive the manhandling) or the Cantos for their gleanings (however overt the gloss/dross), and that the merits of what's left may be judged accordingly as both maculate and commendable. And that this profound ambivalence does not result in either purely taste in a Greenbergian sense or purely pure in a political sense but an aesthetic-ethical stance in itself. One in which evil and anguish and bad faith is as inescapable as the impulse to make existence readable, manageable, the hubris it takes to represent real tragedy or common beauty. How willing am I to forgo my (snowflake) subjectivity as author while at the same time acknowledging my culpability as thief/curator/echo effect? Bataille said that to write is to be guilty of avoiding real work; by the same token, to perform real work is to be guilty of avoiding writing. Some pure appropriation leans into both registers of guilt--I am doubly guilty because I duck the honest work of producing experience and yet cede to the temptation of representation. Some creative work remains studiously ignorant of its infantile human desire to make meaning. On a personal level, if I may say so, I find much to admire in the infantile and the futile, and would like to obliterate the silly distinction between types of making. Put another way, more poems about Katrina would be nice, however made.

Shannon Maguire said...

"This is, to me, the greatest challenge and gift of these kind of conceptual and appropriative texts. They are not, in the way that Kent Johnson wants to suggest, simply lifting and packaging language: they reinvent, re-contextualize, illuminate by juxtaposing or reassembling...they make us take account of such archival material, such voices. They in fact, bring our attention to these rich pools, not only of language, but of consciousness."

Right on.

“An electric charge runs the length of my spine as it always does when I sense an authenticity in a text, not sincerity, not a prissy sort of authority, but the deep authenticity that signals the cavernous rendering of time and consciousness, as if the words have cords that run through time, amplifying history, event.”

You say this in “On Encountering Zong!” and I am intrigued by the ethical gesture implied here. As Ms. Place says (and by the way, point taken): “The ethical is a gesture, not an articulation. In other words, the gesture lies in the articulation, in all senses.” As an aside: I am curious about what kind of "new movement or non-movement" you would propose? Oh, goody! Can you and others post some manifestos on the subject?

An interesting interrogation is happening with the conversation on these blogs as it slips between its (often) meager discussion of poetics (much more rigorous here than the other threads) and a discussion of how a poet is to act in the world beyond her/his treatment of language. Here might be a place to wonder about the difference between fictional characters and heteronyms, between the embodied character onstage and the embodied agent in the world. Between the rewriter and the reader. Between politics, poetics and ethics.

Can a poetics that (like mine) opposes a straightforward utilitarian connection between the production of language and measurable outcomes in political terms have a productive conversation with a “poetry of witness” that does wish to intervene in quick and direct ways with specific events and social-ecologies? Further, why does “poetry of witness” seem to be a short hand in these blog threads to “authentic” and/or “lyric” and/or decisively not conceptual when a book like Zong! is clearly both? Isn’t there room for a diversity of poetics, and wouldn’t such a diversity be beneficial to both social and poetic ecosystems? Can any type of poetry properly account for the gross unevenness of access to public platforms (ie, publishing in its many forms) and resources to develop and feed one’s practice (and oneself)? I agree with those who have pointed out that the field of poetry, unlike banking and advertizing for instance, is not a zero-sum game and that one iteration of language, far from cancelling another, in fact indexes others, invokes them, calls on the reader to investigate the trails.

The reader’s agency (an moral abjection, one might argue) is central to all poetry and thrown into focus in much conceptual work. Wonder becomes the alchemical agent that when supported by skills (listening first, reading and writing) transforms utterance into framed and yes, chosen and rendered language (no matter what style or trad. one is working in as you point out) as a public though-process involving the poet as rewriter but centered on the reader.

Now I’m going to go and track down a copy of McDaniel’s “Saltwater Empire” and delve into the un/ethics of my readerly imp.

And for the record, Murakami's book is called the “The Invisibility Exhibit” which I got wrong at first but right subsequently above.

Cheers,
S.

Shannon Maguire said...

I agree with Vanessa Place that all creative use of language is deliciously appropriative. Language for the sake of language is no less or more so than language for (sometimes productive) mistake of representation. But writing and the world aren’t separate, are they? There are material realities that overwrite in numerous ways what is possible to (re)write and read. Related in a tangential and shamelessly personal way, apart from any aesthetic misgivings about the fitness of what Dr. Laura, the Pope or Stephen Harper might fabricate from an appropriation of my overtly queer use of language, my gut says that I would quite likely be pissed off by it. Further, it would quite likely be used against me. So it seems there are sometimes real world consequences of rewriting which have to do with who has the pen and/or pixels. Now switching to a utopic register, Post-Warhol or not, I think there is a difference between advertizing—the ultimate act of creative appropriative fabrication— with its roots in the arcade (?)and poetry. Though what it is in particular and in general that sets poetries apart from advertisments is up for debate! Perhaps it has something to do with polyvocality, ambiguity and wonder… are these the basis for an anti-ethics?

VanessaP said...

Yes, one would think. Along with their anti-aesthetic ethical counters: performative didaticism, fascism, and the gray drop drop drop of honest truth, plainly spoken. And no, there's no separation, which is precisely the beauty of appropriation done well--the reality is altered by the alteration of the reality. Elegance abounds. Just like in real life.

Lemon Hound said...

Kaie,
"the book is submitted for awards, and the machinery of promotion and publishing kicks in, the poet begins to benefit from a firm, unambiguous notion of authorship" perhaps this is true. But the kind of appropriative work we are discussing is generally *not* the kind to work its way into the prize machines.

The machinery of poetry tends to privilege the lyric I, the representational, the single poem, the safe, the familiar, the rhyming, and so on...

Has anyone in Canada even reviewed Norbese Philip's Zong let alone place it on a prize list?

Doubtful.

That the Poetry Foundation is looking at this book by McDaniel seems a very good thing, highlighting these stories, the writer's process, the reception, etc.

It is, as you say Chris, prodding at the power of the lyric voice and all of the apparatus around keeping the genius, suffering, lyric voice king.

Lemon Hound said...

Ms. Maguire,
Your comment deserves its own post...which is the problem with these discussions really...at best they become uncontainable.

Thanks for pointing me to myself. I forgot that I made that essay public via the Influency site...and yes, what I was trying to get at there was the complex sensations of authenticity. I have suffered through enough ah moments in poetry workshops and readings around the world to know that what most people take as sincere, or authentic, is simply palatable.

The visceral reaction I have to a work having been wrung out parallels with Vanessa's assertions. To me, there is little more powerful than a work that has been thoroughly, and perhaps publicly wrought. That has been transformed out of that singular and hermetic "I" into a historical and contextual voice that yes, can still be "I" but its an "I" swelling with consciousness.

Still, I don't think I've quite articulated what I want...

Kent Johnson said...

I just noticed this remark. I'm totally confused re: the "position" you ascribe to me, Sina. I have no disagreement in principle with the second half of your comment. You imply that I do?

"This is, to me, the greatest challenge and gift of these kind of conceptual and appropriative texts. They are not, in the way that Kent Johnson wants to suggest, simply lifting and packaging language: they reinvent, re-contextualize, illuminate by juxtaposing or reassembling...they make us take account of such archival material, such voices. They in fact, bring our attention to these rich pools, not only of language, but of consciousness."

Lemon Hound said...

Very sorry to have misread your gestures re: Day, etc.

Clearly we're both confused. My bad.

Kent Johnson said...

OK, that makes it clearer. But what you say below is very much what Geoffrey Gatza's DAY does, even if the enabling actions you list are taking place around it at different frequencies, so to speak, than those enacted by its "source" Conceptual text, the latter which is/are somewhat simplistic and pedestrian, I'd propose, in relation to what's conceptually generated by its copy. The copy of DAY, that is, has everything its "original" claims to have (how could it not), plus a surplus still being determined. (Incidentally, say "Geoffrey Gatza's DAY" because I've officially (see Bill Freind's essay at current Jacket) handed over the Authorship to GG.)

>"...reinvent, re-contextualize, illuminate by juxtaposing or reassembling...they make us take account of such archival material, such voices. They in fact, bring our attention to these rich pools, not only of language, but of consciousness."