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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Friday, May 3, 2013

4. The poetics of poetry itself shares many of the romantics suppositions of the poetics of cultural exceptionalism.

The cluster of concerns that to which we give the label poetics, as exemplified by collections of short essays written by poets like The Poetics of the New American Poetry, is fundamentally romantic in its ideology. The assumption that every poet should have his or her own individual poetics, distinct from that of any other creator, is quite foreign to the neo-classical understanding of “poetics” as a set of rules, recommendations, or general principles guiding all imaginative literature. Several poets might, in fact, share comparable versions of romantic poetics, but these will acquire an idiosyncratic shape and linguistic expression in each individual case, or be expressed in a unique set of terms, seemingly sui generis and locked into its particular vocabulary.

As a consequence, the poetics of an individual poet might also take the form of a theory of cultural identity applicable, in theory, to an entire people, nation, or region of the world. Lezama Lima’s sistema poético del mudno, for example, is undoubtedly his own personal “Lezamian” poetics, but also as a theory of cubanidad (Cubanness), of the Carribean region, or of Latin American identity. Insofar as it situates Cuba (and Latin America) in relation to other world cultures (European, Egyptian, etc...) it is also potentially universalist in scope. A similar set of concentric circles are also evident in Lorca’s theory of the duende.

6 comments:

Vance Maverick said...

The assumption that every poet should have his or her own individual poetics

This triggers my countersuggestibility. I'm sure there are those who assume this - it's widespread in the visual art world, where a "statement" is an expected part of a portfolio - but the argument would be strengthened by examples.

Jonathan said...

I'm going to take care of those in the footnotes. The inclusion of a "poética" is standard in Spanish anthologies.

Jonathan said...

"those" means "examples."

profacero said...

Very, very interesting.

j. said...

isn't one characteristic of the langpo people that they're engaged in extensive (theoretical) discussion amongst themselves about poetics? that, together with a common orientation toward thinking of poetry or poetics as liberatory or socially or politically radical in some way, seems to suggest some degree of belief in a non-fixed but non-individual (not just individual) poetics.

Jonathan said...

I guess collective movements like langpo or surrealism will have collective poetics. I don't know if that falsifies my assertion.