Josh Corey's notes from the AWP conference are fascinating.
The MFA as a gated community. As post-MFA I can see this. However, the "avant guarde" feels like a gated community as well.
When will we get a new noun?
I teach full time as a lecturer and I feel more and more drawn to work outside the academy. I get bored with the intro to lit classes and I don't want to teach in the typical workshop MFA world. I do feel grateful to have a job doing something I actually enjoy. Teaching four classes a semester and earning more than I've ever earned after eight years of university (a little over $20,000/year and benefits). But I've seen a lot of "edgy" poets compromise in order to appear legit get tenure appear professional etc. As a whole, strange sounding journals don't sound as professional as a journal with a university attached to it. The so and so review. I realize there are some exceptions to this, but they are few and far between.
I don't want to compromise just to appear professional.
I came to Greensboro with a more "experimental" background in poetics. Did an MA with a lot of theory. Greensboro is very traditional and I was tired of people saying they didn't get my poetry. So I wrote hundreds of narrative poems with a little twist of the absurd (Stephen Dobyns like). And people enjoyed them. I wrote my MFA thesis in the opposite direction (aesthetically and politically) of my MA thesis. MA thesis was influenced by such ideas and poets as Paul Celan, deconstructive practices, pre-socratic philosophy, Cole Swenson, Gustav Sorbin, various mystical traditions.
Then I came to Greensboro. Sold all my theory books and all my Sun and Moon, Evergreen Reviews and wanted to write with more "emotion." That was the charge against the experimental/avant guarde. Did not contain enough emotion, too cold etc. I wanted people in the workshop (or at least one or two to "like" my work).
Now I am re-ignited with some of the experimental strain. But I am not writing narrative poetry (in the traditional sense) or all out abstract philosophical poetry. I am somewhere in between.
That's one of the charges against Fence right? The charge against a lot of younger poets. Verse press etc.
But again I find myself swinging more and more. I can't stand being lukewarm. I engorged myself in existentialist philosophy for four years and I came away with the strong desire to commit to my choices. To passionately commit to my choices. Not the what but the how.
I am interviewing with a textbook company at the end of the week. I received an appointment as a full time lecturer again next year at UNCG but editing sounds interesting. It's 9 to 5. But it's not telemarketing. I did telemarketing all through my undergrad days selling Allstate life insurance and Burpie flower seeds.
The textbook company is small. Two close friends and the boss who studied with Allen Ginsberg at Naropa in the 70's. My friend Angie Decola said the company might want to delve into some literary criticism and are always looking for freelance writers to write textbooks for them.
Maybe I will go back to university teaching at some point but I want a community outside of the university (blogland and the Desert City Reading series are my hopes).
I am bored stiff with the "mainstream" of all the little university journals.
Are we in need of new nouns?
Something other than avant guarde.
Saw an anthlogy of British poetry edited by Charles Simic called the New British Poetry. It's full of the old British poetry.
The other anthology is called Other and is full of New British poetry. Sound familiar?