Refuting Critical Bewilderment in Twentieth Century Australian Poetries
Philip Mead’s Networked Language: Culture & History in Australian Poetry is a much needed, dynamic ingression in the tiny field of Australian poetics. Critical writing on poetry in Australia is incredibly scant considering the sizeable publication (and associated activities) of poetry. However, as tiresome as it is to note once more, in spite of its volume and vigour, poetry itself remains marginal to Australian culture.
Practising poets need to read poetics. My own bookshelves house many books of essays on poetry by contemporary North American poets and critics, some European and some from the UK, yet relatively few books on Australian poetics. Strategically, Australian poet-editors use their introductions to infrequent anthologies to gesture towards a poetics. So, Philip Mead is working in a disappointingly small world. In his introduction Mead discusses the dearth of critical writings on poetry and, in fact, of Australian literary theory in general.
On my beachshelf: Heredities (LSU Press), by J. Michael Martinez, winner of the 2009 Walt Whitman Award. I was so engaged by this book that I had to ask the author a few questions. I hope you enjoy his brilliant responses!
CSP: Heredities is a brilliant title for your collection as it points to both the importance of heredity in your own life, and in the life of many writers of color, but it also speaks to the multiple formations of your identities, languages, and poetics. I also think it's powerful how the title poem continues throughout the book, beginning each section and ending the book. How did you come to this title (or how did it find you)? What made you decide to serialize "Heredities" and use it in each section of the book?
JMM: Craig, first, thanks for taking the time to interview me and I’m looking forward to our dialogue. The collection was initially entitled “Copal” and I already knew that this didn’t represent the work of the manuscript.
In her most recent Jacket2 commentary, Kaia alluded to Slow Poetry.A key instigator of Slow Poetry discussions has been Dale Smith, a poet and writer whose thinking and writing about poetry I’ve admired for a long time. Dale is a poet and rhetorical studies scholar who for a while was based at the University of Texas at Austin. In fall 2011 he will start working at Ryerson University in Toronto. He has been involved with contemporary poetry as a publisher, editor, and writer since the 1990s. His book, Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960 will be published by the University of Alabama Press later this year. I asked him a couple questions about ideas from this book.
Compare two reviews of Alfred Kreymborg's Troubador, a chatty group-bio/memoir of the high-flying modernists of Europe and New York in the late 1910s and early '20s. One is Gertrude Stein's book review published in Ex Libris, a magazine put out in Paris. The other, written by Mark Van Doren, was published in the Nation. For a clearer view of the review as it appeared in print, click here.