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Who or what is a poet critic and why is the academy so up in Poetry’s face?
What is a poet critic? Can a poet be “successful” outside of the academy? If not, why? Who, or what, is upholding the system that creates (or maintains) a hierarchy in the poetry community that sees the academic poet at the peak? Or is there really a peak? Is the latter simply an illusion that drives the MFA industry?
Where did the idea that to write poetry is to teach poetry arise?
Is a poet critic a hermetically sealed role or is there room for change?
What was TS Eliot’s relationship to the Academy? Or rather, the academies, because apparently his relationship to Cambridge was much different than his relationship to Oxford. Why did he not take that, by now mythical and much coveted teaching job? What difference would it have made in his career, to his poetry? To the poets of the early 20th century, and so on?
Is there a critic outside of poetry? Why do so many “innovative” women writers seem to have criticism embedded in their poetry? (Lisa Robertson, Erin Moure, Anne Carson…). Where are the critical women writers? Why are there so many non-poet women critical writers and so few women who are poets and critical writers? Or, is that a myth?
What do Wittgenstein, William Carlos Williams, Cotton Mather, Charlotte Mew, Fredric Jameson, French Theory, Fred Moten, Thylias Moss, and James Sherry have to do with each other, let alone the question of poet critic?
Greetings from Santa Cruz where I am attending a conference titled Re-imagining the Poet-Critic. Yesterday I listened to a dozen or more papers, several respondents, a lunch hour reading, responded to two papers myself, and then after a fabulous dinner listened to three poets, Kasey Mohammad, Craig Dworkin and Vanessa Place, read in the Felix Culpa gallery.
Kasey read some of his Shakespeare anagrams. He is making his way through the sonnets, using the jumbled letters of each to construct new poems. The remaining letters are used to make the titles which, as he notes, are usually the silliest part. Humour is the main note in Mohammed’s workings and later, over drinks, we found ourselves wondering what would happen if he explored different registers–he is a flarf poet so the dominant response is flarf. Here, by the way, is Virginia Woolf’s reading of flarf.
Dworkin read a write through of Wittgenstein’s On Certainty that was brilliant (you can find a review of that here). First time hearing him read, knowing his critical and editorial work more than his poetry. He also read a very funny and quite imaginative “translation” of Beowulf that I would love to read.
Vanessa Place went last because as her introducer said, she tends to disturb. She read a reworking of Valerie Solinas SCUM Manifesto, her long piece comprised of the names for that place, you know, down there…and read a piece from her ongoing Statement of Facts project that did indeed disturb.
Today another dozen or so papers and respondents and tonight yours truly reads with David Lau and Juliana Spahr. I will try to add to this post tomorrow at some point when I can catch wireless in between San Francisco and Montreal. Until then, I’ll take notes…