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POETS’ STRIKE

By Eileen Myles

I was at the gym a few days ago and I was mulling a piece of writing I was working on about an artist Oscar Tuazon. He’s a sculptor from the northwest who lives in Paris. His sculptures are kind of anti-buildings, often threatening to bring down the building they are designed to fit. His sculptures mock and attack the building in a way. As an artist, Oscar seems like a lot of different things. He was born in a geodesic dome and is very curious about intentional 60s communities. A catalogue of his work for a show last year included an interview with a poet and activist from San Francisco, John Curl, who was telling Oscar about Drop City, the most famous of all the communes. John was explaining that a lot of the people in the community would come and go, mostly heading to either San Francisco or New York. He told Oscar that the poets in San Francisco had this joke about the poet’s strike. The idea being to stop writing poems to resist the war. The joke was that nothing would happen. It seemed like a stoner joke. But Oscar said to John well you’d just do something else. That seemed like the crux of the matter to me. That you would NOT put your energy into poetry but put the poem, the drive to it, the whole apparatus we gleefully deposit in the poetry world and bring that something somewhere else. I concluded this could be done today well more specifically on May 1st and I put it up as a proposal on facebook. I sent invites to my 3000 closest friends. I guess this approximates madness. I sent a massive email blast out yesterday. One thought is imagine going up to the Whitney with a gang (on May 1, a Sunday) and maybe handing out flyers explaining that I am not writing poetry today but I am willing to talk about the situation with corporations not paying their taxes. Then I think I would go down to the Staten Island Ferry and do the same or something else. Some people on facebook are like yeah. Let’s go. Other people ask seriously if poetry and activism are really so different. I am always the first on a panel to say that I think writing a poem is a political act. Why not. Of course that’s true. But really most poems just stay in the poetry world. Some people say shouldn’t we just write poems and oppose the political climate together and make a book etc. I mean sure if that’s what you want. Yet somehow the idea of consciously and publicly not writing poems and not doing poetry readings, really saying no to all that for one day and even letting people know that you are doing that and I don’t know singing a song at south ferry or maybe standing outside a poetry reading and saying I won’t go in because today I’m more interested in talking about the assault on women’s rights in congress – that seems very exciting to me.  Or joining another protest as a bloc of poets. Standing on a sidewalk somewhere, or in the subway making speeches. It’s not an anti-poem, it’s a non-poem. Is space created by that act of not doing it at all. I think it does create something new. We can turn the faucet off. The question is why would we do it. To just do something else, to call that a political thing. It makes sense to me. I guess it doesn’t have to have far-reaching appeal. But our social media allows us to put the word out. So I’m going to keep going. There aren’t that many days left.


Posted in Uncategorized on Thursday, April 21st, 2011 by Eileen Myles.