1. "All human cultures are creole," John M. Bennett writes. Our language and our world view are hybrid, influenced by and adapting influences from the global village and our post-global home. They are inevitably syncretic and creole.
Absolutely. But Bennett’s use of the term ‘creole’ brings to mind the other meaning of creole. Creole as in the ‘creolisation’ of languages. How the language of a colonizing or dominant culture devolves into a pidgin and then develops into a creole, a rich communication tool with its own grammar, form and traditions, though often with a vocabulary based on the dominant language. So: Haitian Creole and its relationship to French.
Among the readings for the graduate seminar in black philosophy and theory that my students and I completed not long ago were the collected writings of philosopher and artist Adrian Piper, in which, among so many other projects, she reproduces the calling card she had printed up for use in one of her on-going projects from the 1970s. Because Piper is, as we so deftly put it in America, a light-skinned black person, she has had the experience of being in a group of white people and hearing one of them tell a racist joke. She had cards printed up that she would present to the tellers of such jokes, cards that explained that she was in fact a black person and that she found the telling of the joke objectionable. This was not merely a personal campaign, you must understand, but was a sort of philosophical theater, for the presentation of the card was not simply a means to carry out a personal fight with racism.
A response to the conference titled “Poetry Criticism: What is it for?”— speakers Marjorie Perloff, Helen Vendler, Stephen Burt,and Michael Scharf, moderated by Susan Wheeler, at Wollman Hall, Cooper Union Engineering Building, 51 Astor Place, New York City, sponsored by the Poetry Society of America, early in 2000.
ACCORDING TO a recent article by Ian Hamilton in the London Review of Books, Randell Jarrell's descent into madness, and his speculated suicide, were in part provoked by a negative review in the New York Times accusing him of “doddering infantilism.” Jarrell, who was hailed on the Poetry Society of America's panel “Poetry criticism: What is it For?” as being the model poet-critic, apparently could not take the blow, after having dished out a fair share of them for so many years as “poetry's high-purposed body guard.”
Marjorie Perloff, meanwhile, encouraged young poets to critique each other, putting themselves and their friends in the line of fire. She clarified that she did not mean that poets should trash each other — just to take risks and engage in critical dialogue.
In “Composition as Explanation” Gertrude Stein writes: “The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything.” .
Lydia Davis is a writer who is a great influence and inspiration to “everyone,” when everyone includes readers of experimental fiction as well as a myriad of poets “doing everything.” Davis is a master of short fiction and extremely short fiction, as well as a celebrated translator, novelist and poet.
At a recent reading at Bryn Mawr College, Davis addressed the audience at first by noting the grandeur of the room. She said, “I’ll just stand here and be impressed for a while.” And that is exactly how the audience regarded her, standing before dramatic windows and reading short and very short works from her forthcoming book titled Can’t and Won’t.