I am only a little ways into the book, but it is fascinating so far. Rifkin has a chapter where she focuses on the homoerotic and institution building correspondence of Olson and Creeley. There are a lot of fascinating issues concerning gender and the avant-garde (both American and transnational). The modernists where certainly one big sausage party (as someone recently noted on a listserv thread about the legacy of the beats). How much of the sausage party is merely a reflection "of the times" and how much is simply not excusable under the banner of time and place? Or maybe that's not the point. It is not so much a finger pointing as an analysis of the larger structural forces at work.
The main focus of this book is the position taking and institution and career building strategies of Creeley, Berrigan, Olson, and Zukofsky. Career sounds like the wrong word right? I mean poets are under the radar, not really part of the dirty marketplace? But these name brand poets have cultural capital(which is power at least within the various avant garde communities).
So why all the sausages? I mean I don't think it's anything inherent in the work of these poets. I know it's overdetermined etc etc etc But why the emphasis on male communities of poets? There is a rich history of communities of female poets. Do these communities of female poets, as a whole, operate under different assumptions? Perhaps not so much a wrestling with the father/anxiety of influence (Olson wrestles with Pound quite a bit). Or if there is a wrestling with the father is it within a larger context of gender?
Alright, I can't pin down what I am trying to ask because I don't know what I am asking. Maybe community is the wrong term. Perhaps movement is a better term? There are many many great female poets among the so-called language poets. But the historic center of that movement seems to be Watten, Bernstein, Silliman etc. Does every artistic movement exclude (or at least displace) the importance of female poets?
I am a male poet but I am sometimes uncomfortable with the dominance of male poets in poetry communities/happenings etc. Yet I am envious of the relationship between Creeley and Olson. I would love that kind of bond.