Commentaries - November 2007
As a Kelly Writers House Fellow, on April 23, 2001, the late June Jordan gave a reading from her memoir, Soldier, and from her poetry, including some new, uncollected work. The event was recorded digitally and is available (in RealVideo format). Taking the longer video, I excerpted her reading of a single poem, "Focus in Real Time," and you can see her reading that poem by clicking here.
In a Thanksgiving-inspired blog entry, Ron Silliman gives thanks for the close friends who poetically came of age with him in the Bay area and who are now collaborating on a multi-authored, multi-volume collective autobiography, The Grand Piano. Just now I read Mark Scroggins' "Culture Industry" entry on the GP. He quotes Joe Strummer offering via lyrics a "pretty unanswerable summary of the institutional absorption of the subversive margins" and that is his topic, although on balance he is a critic of those who criticize the GP authors on these grounds. He reminds us that "[i]t’s of course an old move to point to how many prominent Language Poets...have moved into the academy." He says we must allow a measure of narcissism in the project.
And how could one not, since it's the nature of autobiography that it...well...be about the person or people whose lives and work it's about. I suppose one standard for evaluating its success is the extent to which reading it makes one think about that apparently generic aboutness. On this score, I would say that it succeeds quite well.
But back to narcissism. What surprised Scroggins is "how little space was given over to assertions of the innovativeness, the subversiveness, the sheer importance of Language writing" (in at least the first volume of the work).
I am fascinated by the response to GP and suggest a few links:
I use del.icio.us to organize all my links. You can view my bookmarks here. You can also create an RSS feed so that my new links show up on your iGoogle page or Google Reader. I suppose it's much like seeing headline-like entries fed from a blog, only here, as I say, it's a list of links that are obviously of interest. Chris Mustazza has a helpful blog entry on del.icio.us.