Friday, September 24, 2010

Post-avants: refocusing, repositing or regressive?

"I’ve long felt the rejection of representation crucial to any investigation into styles of poetic thinking. What constitutes such a discretion? Not entirely the abandonment of logic but certainly the freedom to a certain capriciousness in its application, arrived at through a tactical linking of words into propositional units... Bold innovation is immediately co-optated into a patinated rhetoric of supercession which gets one nowhere beyond the ephemeral titillations of fashion. I prefer to that other narrative of Midas that re-visions the avant-garde as a storehouse of available and cumulative techniques deemed viable and adaptable to the urgencies of the present. Poetry won’t change the world but might render the world rethinkable. This is not a Utopian inclination but a tactical strategy within a multiplicity of dreams, agendas, mistakes and arrogances. It is a poetics of promiscuity envisioned as a tactic. I adopt a chiasmic view of history: that’s partly Eliotian and partly Benjaminian: the present contemporarizes the past as much as the contemporary is historicized by the past. Any worthwhile poetic must be historically rigorous and admit the capricious power of the anachronism."

-Steve McCaffery, from his afterword to Verse and Worse: Selected and New Poems of Steve McCaffery, 1989-2009

No comments:

Post a Comment