I entered graduate school and gravitated toward poets from the L=A=G=U=A=G=E movement. But, other than the basic understanding of the gap between a signifier and signified, I came to these poets with little theoretical background. I felt pulled toward them emotionally before I began to investigate their poetics. I saw the various strategies they employed as somehow spiritually based (which I found out later was not the intention of the more Marxist leaning poets). I read them for the experience of language. I then tried to imitate their various strategies and my MA dissertation was a performance with some muscians playing various world instruments.
By the end of the MA I was bogged down with theory. I felt like that Swift horse of reason. My poems were very abstract, cloaked, and I had very little awareness of why I was using disruptive strategies. So I went on to a traditional MFA programme and learned how to write the clear, conversational lyric. I sold all of my theory books. I felt like I was finally re-finding me emotions which I distrusted due to the manipulations of Mormonism. As a missionary we would show a sad movie, make people cry, and tell them it was the Holy Ghost telling them to get baptized. Needless to say, after the doubt hit full throttle, I distrusted almost all of my emotions and tried to become as much of a Spock as possible.
I went home to Ireland for the first time in 12 years after leaving the Mormon church and began to hear voices. Things began to take off. (I know the old voices joke. I am fully aware of where the voices come from. No ghosts around me. At least, not in a literal sense).
Now, I am refinding my original impulse. No so much back to theory (although bits and pieces are informing my poetics), but writing as a visionary practice. I want the experience of language above all else. I want a mass of language experiences (Olson, Joyce).
Not only do I find myself standing inside a circle, but I think I've written this narrative about myself about 200 times. Each time with a slight variation. I am sure there's a post very similar to this one in the archives.
So I am re-ignited. The old accents are talking to me. My memories, my life (thank god for Lyn Hejinian) is not off-limits in my poetry. But I don't have to write a nice clear narrative poem in order to use my life. What the hell does it mean to say: MY LIFE?
So, I traded in some textbooks. Got store credit. ordered some books and moves.Tonight I picked up:
1) Watchfulness by Peter O'Leary
2) Pastorelles by John Taggart
3) The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book
On the way in the mail:
1) By Brekhage (criterion collection)
2) The collected Basil Bunting
3) Joyce's Finnegan's Wake
4) Whatsaid Serif and School of Udhra by Nathaniel Mackey
I've got to finalize the books for my intro to poetry and second semester composition classes. The composition class is theme-based and I am doing it on art films (hence the Brekhage). I think I'll also do a little third wave, a little Fellinni.
The intro to poetry class is a little more difficult. I've already put in orders for:
1) Tony Tost's Invisible Bride
2) Harryette Mullen's Sleeping with the Dictionary
3) Nathaniel Mackey's Whatsaid Serif
4) Lisa Jarnot's Ring of Fire.
There are some more individual collections I would like to do (like Jon Thompson's The Book of the Floating World and Joseph Donahue's Incidental Eclipse), but I also want to include a little anthology to establish a base. I want to keep the price of the textbooks reasonable for the students. So I may have to just stop at four individual collections. I am trying to decide between two anthologies:
1) Poems for the Millenium Volume One
2) Technicians of the Sacred (an anthology of world poetry edited by Jerome Rothenberg as well)
I am excited to watch Brekhage when he arrives. I only know Brekhage through some poets/artists whose opinions of art I highly admire (Tost, Vatiello, Donahue are a few).