Conceptual Poetics: A Practicum
I love this idea of valueless, unoriginal poetry based on junk. I’ve been trying to write poems, and now it turns out that I could have just been assembling them. I mean, I’ve done some avant-gardist things in my time (let us call them, for lack of a better term, “poems"), but I think I spent way too much time worrying about making “sense” (who even knows what that means anymore?) So today, since I’m, like so many effete bourgeois Americans, absolutely burdened with leisure time, I went out to see how this concept of Conceptual Poetics might liberate me from the senseless drudgery of writing.
Sure enough, in two hours and fifteen minutes, I had gathered enough words to make a poem. Method: I combed the streets and sidewalks, looking for a pedestrian vocabulary. All I had to do, as they say at the rifle range, was shoot it. Then I spent another 70 minutes figuring out how to “arrange” it. (I could have finished in 20 minutes, I'm sure, but I got bored in the middle of making poetry and decided to skim through an anthology, looking for interesting words I could steal).
I wanted to be careful not to impose any of the hierarchies by which I’d been colonized, so I decided I’d use an element of randomness. I chose from my list blindly, zip zip zip, never pausing to entertain arcane thoughts like “Does this mean anything? Will anyone read this? Hasn’t this been done before?” Heedless, I pushed on, in pursuit of art: art, art—wherefore art thou? Oh, here it is, at my feet, covered in poo and leaves. Good old art. Yes…
I call this poem "Leap of Faith," which is also the title of the autobiography of Jordan's Queen Noor. I like the title because I didn't have to do any work; it was just sitting here on my desk.
Leap of Faith
Born in Albany, Georgia, D.A. Powell earned an MA at Sonoma State University and an MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first three collections of poetry, Tea, (1998), Lunch (2000), and Cocktails (2004), are considered by some to be a trilogy on the AIDS epidemic. Lunch was a finalist...