Thursday, September 3, 2009

On "schools" of poetry

20 comments:

Jordan said...

Well, but they coat those bread slicers with pesticides...

Anonymous said...

And just as I was about to make a big proposal related to the subject, under Michael Hoffman's essay on Seidel at the Poetry Foundation site...

Well, I still will. Some bread is baked for slicing.

Kent

Kent Johnson said...
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Don Share said...

Present company seems to be excluded?

Kent Johnson said...
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Don Share said...

Oh. I still feel left out, though.

Kent Johnson said...

Me too...

Kent

Jordan said...

Good poets! I would have included Gabe Gudding, but he isn't really a joiner, and what about Dan Beachy-Quick etc etc.

I look forward to reading the prospectus and the anthologies.

Kent Johnson said...
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Kent Johnson said...
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Kent Johnson said...
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Kent Johnson said...
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Jordan said...

What happened to that list? I was hoping to do some chapbook shopping.

I remember Madrid.

I'm picking up the O'Leary and the Glomski (was Glomski on the list?).

I saw the ad for Jen Scappetone's book in the LFRB. (If you've been to their bookstore you'll understand why the insertion.)

Chicago, show us your poets!

Rachel Loden said...

I was here yesterday when there was no link or list, and now it's gone again.

What up? I want to know what Jordan's talking about!

And, of course, why so many (apparently delicious) comments have been mysteriously deleted.

Don Share said...

Looks like a commenter removed his or her own comments. I've deleted nothing. That "list" must have been in one - Kent's, I'm guessing?

Rachel Loden said...

Augh -- Don, I knew it wasn't you who deleted those posts, and should have noted that. So easy to seem to be saying one thing when you mean another in this tricky ether.

Jordan's comment on "the prospectus and the anthologies" is very intriguing. Oh well.

Kent Johnson said...

Sorry, accidentally deleted this one when I scrapped a couple other meaningless comments yesterday. I've added a few names, additional remarks, and a sincerely curious question to Jordan below the comment, should he care to answer it.

My proposal: That the closest thing we presently have to a "School" of younger, rigorously innovative poets in the U.S. (one that stands closest chance of being retrospectively seen as akin in significance to the NY School in its first-generation, proto-formation years--and when I say "School" I mean it in that sense of fortuitous constellation, something very different from a self-identified tendency or "movement") is what I'll call the New Chicago School. It's a list more poetically and generationally focused than the contents of the City Visible anthology of a couple years back, and more geographically focused, too, even though a few of the poets here have recently moved elsewhere in the Midwest and one now lives abroad:

William Fuller, Anthony Madrid, John Tipton, Devin Johnston, Peter O'Leary, Robyn Schiff, Bill Allegrezza, Dan Beachy-Quick, Michael Robbins, John Beer, Arielle Greenberg, Jesse Seldess, Nick Twemlow, Suzanne Buffam, Srikanth Reddy, Jen Scappettone, Eric Elshtain, Joshua Corey out in the suburbs, Dan Borzutzky (though something of a separate case, his poetry, perhaps)... and a gaggle of brilliant scholar-editors associated, past or present, with the Chicago Review, along with Robert Archambeau, on the outskirts of the city at Lake Forest.

To these names one could add an active (and often activist) group of even younger poets and publishers: Michael Slosek, Kerri Sonnenberg, Eric Unger, Luke Daly, Barrett Gordon, and Brooks Johnson, for example (the latter four have close connections, and their work engages the visual arts and music scenes, as well).

For sure, there are others I'm just blanking on, and apologies for that (please add). And obviously (!) there are all kinds of superb poets in Chicago doing important work who don't quite fit the aesthetic and generational parameters of the grouping (Don Share himself being one case, or Ed Roberson, say).

From a poetic standpoint, what would justify the set? It is a diverse group (as was the original NY School) and a large one, but it's held together by a vibrant, active scene and certain broad affinities of poetic predisposition and--quite often, and with the necessary exceptions--affect. The drift tends towards a "scholarly," brainy, less "pop-cultural" and more self-consciously "critical" mode than tends to be the case around the scene at St. Mark's, for example. And, I'd argue, the work by and large tends to be more thematically ambitious, more novel and challenging in its registers and forms than the work of the younger NY scene, still largely caught as it is within tonal frames of the hip, the pop, the vernacular, the anecdotal, the flarf.

So what I'm proposing is something that's beginning to have a bit of the self-evident to it already, I think, and no doubt others have noticed it, too: that Chicago, right now, is home to the most interesting and vital "poetic cluster" in the country. I've been invited just today to write more about this for the Digital Emunction collective blog, conducted by Bobby Baird and various others with connections to U of Chicago and CR http://www.digitalemunction.com/ , so I'll try to expand on some of these ideas there down the road.

(And my trailing question to Jordan, since he seems to suggest in comment above that the term has some relation to what I'm proposing: In poetry, what does it mean to be a "joiner"?)

Kent

Kent Johnson said...

Just to note that I've expanded the above into a short essay (it now includes discussion around Steve Burt's "The New Thing" essay in BR, among other additional things), and it will be--drumroll for me, not that it matters to anyone else--my first ever official BLOG post. It will be featured at Digital Emunction http://www.digitalemunction.com/
on Tuesday, brought to you by the good folks of the Hyde Park area. It's titled, obviously enough, I suppose, The New Chicago School.

Kent

Matt said...

whaa whaa whaa new york whaa whaa pop culture whaa whaa whaa whaa

Kent Johnson said...

There's a longer version, Matt, at Digital Emunction today:

http://www.digitalemunction.com/

Robert Archambeau discusses the post at his blog today, as well.

Kent