53: Branded April 11, 2014Posted by The Typist in 365, New Orleans, Poetry, Toulouse Street.
Has this kind inscription from an academic and poet I admire branded me as a “post-post-modernist?” Or am I misreading the ambiguity inherent in short, cryptic messages, especially a poet’s inscription?
I don’t know. Some of the poetry I have read in the last several years is Conceptualist, some drivel and some fantastic. Other books ooze New Sincerity like the confessional of Facebook and Twitter. If you’re going to lay out your life, at least dress for the occasion in something not from American Apparel. If you life is boring, give me “Dream Song. No. 14“. Spare me the banality of your latte. The lyrical, however, has not died, thank bog. The last book I read that completely floored me was Keetje Kuipers’s The Keys to the Jail. It is many things: angry, sarcastic, but most of all lyric. And the idea of a democratic poetry (not the PPM idea that everyone has an equal voice; talent and craft must enter somewhere) but rather in poetry that is grounded in an almost modern aesthetic of the concrete (little c), the descendents of William Carlos Williams and Charles Olson, that is accessible (my heroes include Charles Bukowski at his best, Niyi Osundare, Everette Maddox), and yet allow for the play of language upon the page and upon the ear.
Personally, and in spite of the immense Theory baggage that goes with the term, I rather like metamodernist: “Aesthetically, metamodernism is exemplified by the writings of Haruki Murakami, Roberto Bolaño, David Foster Wallace, and Jonathan Franzen, as they are each typified by a continuous oscillation, a constant repositioning between attitudes and mindsets that are evocative of the modern and of the postmodern but are ultimately suggestive of another sensibility that is neither of them; one that negotiates between a yearning for universal truths and relativism, between a desire for sense and a doubt about the sense of it all, between hope and melancholy, sincerity and irony, knowingness and naivety, construction and deconstruction.”
At least, that’s where I’m trying to go. Perhaps I am too “young” a poet at 56, taking up writing and not just reading less than 10 years ago) to have blazed a clear trail of my own. I keep my machete sharp and steer by the distant mountains of past masters, the promise of rivers of clear water free of crocodiles, Theorists and anything resembling The New Sincerity, anything smacking of pseudo-modernism, of Google Poetics or any related nonsense.
For me, “post-postmodern” is not an epitaph, but the sign at the foot of the trail warning of precipitous inclines, precarious stretches of crumbling ledge, and hic sont leones.