Early Considerations for The Scene: Radical Poetics at the Zig Zag Edges
Why Do I Want to Blog About Radical Poetics?
When I finished my book on the Historical Dictionary of the Beat Movement for Rowman & Littlefield there was, as expected, much that was left over from my notes and reading that I badly wanted to explore. Especially, I wanted to explore the actual poetics of Beat poetry. In particular, at that time, I wanted to explore, to examine closely, the poetics of the poets in the legendary anthology The New American Poetry, and other books of the New American franchise, such as The New American Poetics, all edited by Donald Allen.
And then, from the beginning of my life awareness I have been fascinated with the avant garde, experimental, radical postmodern poetics, its contexts and its aesthetic roots. For my part, The Scene is where I intend to find the mystery, the soul, the essence of radical poetics at the zig zag edges.
Some Possible Goals for The Scene as I Begin
I want to develop a unique place on the web for poets, scholars, critics, and readers to dig radical poetry at its essence.
So, I want this blog to be The Scene, the online scene for such.
I want to promote the power, the greatness, the importance of such poetry and kindred writings.
While I want The Scene to be about many scenes, at least the ones from the past, I especially want to promote the idea of the Beat Movement being central to the new postmodern movements. But more, perhaps, to help keep the Beat Movement alive and relevant because, you know, the Beat Movement is still going strong. It’s just evolved in many directions.
I’m a writer and I plan on blogging my books here and on my other literary blogs as I write them.
I want The Scene to be a collaborative project with my readers. Let’s work at this project together.
And, of course, I would like to sell a few books now and then.
What Do I Mean by Zig Zag Poetics?
I am concerned with the structural, theoretical bases for radical poetry—for the underlying philosophy of the language, style, the organic and inorganic essences.
I am not really concerned with cultural matters such as politics, feminist/gender matters, historicist issues, etc. in own posts. I certainly have spent much of my career as a cultural critic and have written and published much in popular culture studies. But nearly everything we read about all the various radical poetry movements is based on cultural issues. For reposted material that is a different matter.
What Kind of Content Do You Envision Making Up The Scene?
I have written so many papers and articles on the Beat Movement and I have incredible amounts of space on my computer filled with unused notes from the research on my Historical Dictionary of the Beat Movement that you are going to see it all at some point.
But I want to move well beyond the Beat Movement per se. You know, if you have visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland you will see much more than just the giants of rock and roll. You will see exhibits devoted to the roots of rock and even hall of fame inductees that never performed rock. The same thing with The Scene. I want to explore other radical scenes besides the Beats such as the dada and surrealist movements. And I want to explore the roots of contemporary radical literary movement from such forerunners as Emerson (especially with his essay The Poet), Baudelaire, and, yes, the Romantics. Plus what’s happening right now?
But please, don’t send your music to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and don’t send your own poetry to The Scene.
Who Do You Want to Keep Up with The Scene?
I would love to assume an audience of educated readers devoted to the radical claims for poetry and related literature. If you are a poet, you ought to be reading the best poets, the best radical poets that you can find. Let’s find them.
And I would like to develop an audience of poets, scholars, and critics (academic or otherwise) who will dig what The Scene is all about.
You Know Me
Ok, you’ve written and published a lot about radical poets before, but who are you, Really?
Well, I’ve got pages posted at the top of The Scene with my semi-formal biography and with personal notes about why I ever got interested about The Beats.
But other than that, you know me. I’m just a writer like all of you know. I’m the guy you always see at coffee houses over in the corner writing furiously in my black Moleskine, dressed like a writer with funny glasses and wearing clunky boots. You’ve seen me everywhere. Don’t expect me ever to look up unless you come over and say hi. Then I’ll tell you what I’m writing about. Of course I may be writing about you. But anyway—you know me.
I’m going to use a similar voice to Ezra Pound in his ABC’s of Reading and Robert Peters in his Great Poetry Bake-off series. I will be personal, confident, not angry or anything, but not academic and not full of jargon theory. I’m not going to feel any need to back everything up everything I say and believe with hard evidence or whatever. Editors, critics, and peer reviewers like that sort of thing. But, you know, the Enlightenment was supposed to have gone out of style when the Romantics came on the scene. I also ramble a lot.
What Kinds of Short Posts will You Have Besides Your Longer Major Posts and Commentary?
Re-Posts: I plan on posting lots and lots of material you need to know about from other places, especially current material. I may have to cut and paste and re-format because WordPress won’t allow bloggers to re-post directly from outside the WordPress network. But of course I will always be mindful of copyright restrictions.
And as much as I keep saying poetry and poetics, we all know that the world of radical art is much more. So I imagine some serious independent filmmakers and really radical fiction writers are fair game. Back with the Beats, I can’t imagine talking about the poets and not acknowledging fellow travellers like Burroughs and Kerouac.
I plan on posting acknowledgements on special dates such as birthdays, death dates, historical events, etc. If you read my other blogs you’ll see similar posts.
And profiles of radical poets.
Or short posts with readings radicalizing the official literary canon from familiar college courses. Hey, haven’t you ever thought about how really radical those Greek playwrights were? Or Homer? Or those Russians like Dostoyevsky. We’ve got radical poets? How about radical readers? You!
Are You Developing a How to Write Poetry blog?
No no no! I just read the stuff. I don’t write it. So I cant tell you how to write it. Well, maybe one bit of advice. Don’t rhyme.
How Do You Differentiate Radical Poetry from Mainstream or Establishment Poetry?
Who knows? I know the difference when I see it, ok? But I do see a clear distinction between radical, innovative, avant garde, experimental (or whatever label you want to use) poetry and what I usually call genteel poetry. I mean, most of the radical poets of the past are in the big canon taught in schools. I’ve taught courses on the Beat Movements a number of times.
Clearly I have great respect for genteel poetry and, again, have written about genteel poets plenty of times. And I encourage to you follow my Literary Life blog where I separate out the genteel from the radical somewhat. And I reserve the right to read some genteel poets radically.
Generally, the distinction is most often made on the basis of the poetic tradition itself. In American literature we usually distinguish the formal tradition of Edgar Allan Poe and his successors with that of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman and their successors. Obviously lines are blurred all the time and even the common dichotomy of the two traditions is often disputed.
But I am going to maintain a bold claim for poetry right now in our own time. Modern and contemporary fiction has virtually caved in to becoming capitalist cheerleaders. Even our best contemporary novelists just as our best filmmakers see their work as market driven. The true literary art forms today are almost exclusively poets and poetry and some non-market driven plays and playwrights.
What is “The Scene?”
I want to work with many scenes. Early scenes like the Surrealists and Dadaist. The Beats, of course, are the dominant scene in U.S. history and are still around. But there were also the East Side Scene, the Immanentist poets, the Language poets, and then you’ve got all the scenes out there right now. But let’s talk about serious poets, not just people who write poetry. Let’s talk about poetry as LIFE and as ART! Let’s Go!