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Difficult being what you have not yet encountered

By Sina Queyras

I am with Gillian, what is with the hate-on for Language Poetry? The hate on for what is perhaps difficult? I’m reading a lot of tongue in cheek here, I hope:

I detest those inscrutable little nuggets of fleeing meaning. I have worked tirelessly to equip myself with all the emotional, cultural and technical tools I need to understand every poem ever written (I ordered them during a late-night TV binge–they came with a really cool set of ginzu knives), and I will not be bested by some stealthily giggling wordsmiths touting themselves as “language” poets.

Tell me that’s tongue in cheek? Or do people really think poets are out there smithing words into something designed to “best” anyone? Confound anyone?

Can’t we learn to assess things with a little more nuance? There is “accessible” in all kinds of poetry. There is bad lyric verse, and bad Langpo and bad visual poetry and bad narrative poetry and bad usually means you just don’t like or get it rather than giving a clear and compelling reason for what makes it bad…I would like to see what’s “bad” about a particular “it.” I would love to have evidence of the poet described in Patricia Smith’s post who seems bent on creating willfully obtuse works of art designed to make other poets go, Wha?

Or Wa, as in big baby, put your thinking cap on.

Seriously. There is difficult rap, and insulting rap and glorious rap; difficult lyrics, difficult content, conceptual ideas abound, thank god, because who knows what will trigger the next wave of thinking that will take us somewhere new, or old, or twice-felt, or a new familiar, or, you know, move us. Seriously, what’s with all this “guarding” the prescious from the insincere?

Who is to say what is insincere?

Or as I tweeted this week: Poetry would rather drown in intentional surface and glitter than have to swallow even in a drop of faux sincerity thank you

Let’s talk about poems not tribes. Let’s talk about particular aspects of mediocrity. Let’s talk about poetry without risk. Let’s talk about the specifics of a poem here on Harriet. Proof. That would be good. Just a little close reading of a poem or two.


Posted in Uncategorized on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 by Sina Queyras.