Here's the question and the answer:
marcus slease, N. Ireland: How do you feel about younger poets who mix "avant Guarde" and "Mainstream" techniques? (The mongrols as some call them). Do you feel this is irresponsible? Should younger poets show more awareness of context, history etc.?
Jorie Graham: In the long view, these techniques are the various voices of one body, of a people, in a language, in a moment of history. They have come out of political or theoretical thinking, yes, but they have been transmuted through persons, temperaments, talents, experiences. In the end it is the voice you hear--the style is the personhood--even if it wants to eschew personhood. That is what moves, persuades. That is, too, what makes a young poet want to be influenced by this poet rather than that. Even to take stylistic devices from this poet rather than that. You don't find a poet reading a theoretical text that provides the underpinning for a poetry and saying, aha, yes, I want to write to fit that theory. But you do find poets hearing or reading a body of work and thinking, damn I'd like to try that--it sounds so good, it can DO so much, I love the ground it opens in my sense of what's possible in a poem. Of course all poets need as much awareness of context as possible--but lord knows not just poetic or philosophical or theoretical context. As for whether it's responsible? Influence is influence--it's a contagion--it's a form of love--stop it and you stop the flow of future poetry. A hundred years from now these differences will be footnotes, it will all look much more alike then it now seems. Or so I think.
So the footnotes of history. response ability. canons. influence. my head is buzzing like a mad man.