“Future Tense,” a program hosted on Radio National by the Australian Broadcasting Company, features an exploration of MOOCs — a half-hour program that includes a discussion of one course, namely ModPo. For “Future Tense” program notes, go here. To listen to the recording of the broadcast directly (and to download it), go here.
[Originally a talk at a panel on canonicity (Jessica Pressman, Brian Reed, & Bob Perelman) at University of California, San Diego, organized by Michael Davidson, Feb 2013.]
Now that I'm 65 I can ride Philly buses free. That's the good news. The more 'interesting' news is that the balance of homeostasis and desire has become a surprisingly touchy question. Keeping things the same is suddenly attractive, quite attractive, impossibly attractive. All my writing life I've learned that semantics are open-ended, but I'm starting to get the feeling that some words will turn out to have only one meaning, which is a novel and not a totally pleasant thought. "Finite" is one of those words. I don't in fact know what its one meaning is, but extraneous hypotheses are getting shorn away daily, even hourly, which I suppose is progress.
In one sense the question of canons in poetry seems decidedly old-school. It brings back memories of the 1980s — Marjorie Perloff's "Can(n)on to the Left of Us, Can(n)on to the Right of Us," Jerome Rothenberg's "Harold Bloom: The Critic as Exterminating Angel," Charles Bernstein's "The Academy in Peril: William Carlos Williams Meets the MLA" — when the battle map was in crisp focus. That was when O'Hara's poetry could be compared to a small electric fan blowing out crepe-paper streamers, when Stein was a hoax, when Language writing was a dismissible fad, when Williams meant wheelbarrows.
Laynie Browne: Is there such a thing as a “poet’s novel”? If so, how would you characterize the form?
Dan Beachy-Quick: I do think there is such a thing, though I don’t think it’s any one thing. The simplest answer would be a novel that a poet writes, but I think we all feel that such a measurement fails. I suppose in my thinking I consider a “poet’s novel” one that bears a certain kind of relation to itself, a relation that parallels a poem’s relation to itself. Such a novel may or may not have a stake in plot, but such narrative drive feels to me an accident of a deeper investigation, one which can only be conducted by the novel being written. Such a book asks a question that can only be asked within the world it creates, as Melville must include within Moby-Dick that information, that encyclopedia, that makes a whaler of any reader of the book.