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Conversion Narratives and "Poetry"

Tony is instigating a great conversation on the breakthrough or freedom narrative.

In the 20th century it was the narrative of freedom from meter. Now it might be the narrative of breaking out of the "official verse culture" or "school of quietude."

It might be useful to know where "you" are coming from.

But a linear narrative is too simplistic.

Avant talk of shifting contexts and strain(s) of purity?

On a personal level, I keep catching myself wanting to indulge in the self-delusion of a conversion narrative.

I once read Thomas Lux, Stephen Dobyns, Robert Pinsky, Seamus Heaney but now I read/identify with Susan Howe, Rod Smith, Leslie Scalapino etc.

I once was lost but now I'm found.

But I know I am never found.

If I was found, I would not feel the urgency to write.

On the other hand.

I once listened to "mainstream: "top 40" music and thought it was good. I have since acquired more "discerning tastes."

Yet, some "mainstream" music can be quite good. Never mind how we define the mainstream (is Radiohead mainstream?)

Art and religion have strong connections. Religion and politics have strong connections (despite attempts to seperate them).

Conversion narratives seem common among various art forms.

Again, Mark Wallace has a great essay on conversion narratives I wish I could quote from (but my books are packed for my move up the street in a couple of weeks).

Narrative was off limits in the avant world.

Alice Notely wrote Disobedience.

No form is off limits.

Wanda Coleman used an anthology of contemporary mainstream poetry and rewrote them.

So maybe not a third way or a fourth way. But thousands of ways. Not standing still. Not a voyage out only to discover/arrive back where you started.

Just a voyage.

The hero's journey has problems because it is a simplistic narrative.

Conversion narratives have problems because they are simplistic.

The argument for clarity/transperancy in language has problems because language is overdetermined.

What does it mean to say (con)version. A con? A version?

Is the use of parathesis a period style or to demonstrate the complexity of language?

Can the use of parathesis become gimmick, become outdated, inaffective, abused, a typographical cliche?

Only in context. The parathesis itself is only given meaning(s) in context.

Is iambic pentameter the sound of war or the sound of the heart?

Context context context.

I once was lost but now I am found.

In two minutes I may be found again.

Stick to your guns until you acquire better ones.

I am tired of poetry. Too many expectations before I've even begun.

Would it be more effective to simply talk about language arts?

What is lost by the use of genre (including post-avant, avant, experimental)?

What is gained by the use of genre? (is it ONLY for marketing purposes?)

I'm off to the toilet (what does the use of the word of bathroom in American English disguise?)

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Another Ireland: Part Two
Maurice Scully, The Basic Colours. Durham, UK: Pig Press, 1994.
Geoffrey Squires, Landscapes and Silences. Dublin: New Writers' Press, 1996.
Catherine Walsh, Idir Eatortha and Making Tents. London: Invisible Books, 1996.

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I began the first half of this article (Notre Dame Review #4) by mentioning some of the limits to the legendary hospitality Ireland has shown to its poets. If you arrive in Ireland from any point of departure outside of Eastern Europe, you will indeed find a public far more willing than the one you left behind to grant poets the recognition all but the most ascetic secretly crave. However, this hospitality has never extended to Irish poets w…