But lately I've begun to question this idea. The poetry of Bill Knot, Dean Young, James Tate etc. use avant garde techniques for the dominant poetry tradition (whatever it might be called. It doesn't have a name because its the center as in whiteness etc.) I mean the techniques/style without the philosophical/social foundations. It really bugs the hell out of me when someone says they like the style of X poet? Style is clothing. Clothing is surface. Is there anything under the clothing? Sure, maybe not so much a soul, but many parts of the body hidden via societal pressures, fears, etc. In other words power, language, socialization and so on.
So, anyway, back to Bill Knot's poetry. It is surface. The incessant questioning of the avant and post-avant (the thinking) is largely absent and replaced by style/surface. Dean Young is just cool. Sometimes fun I admit, but not coming from an avant garde tradition (he has proclaimed he is not part of the avant garde tradition so good for him for recognizing it)
Did this "in-betweenness" start at Iowa under the tenure of the queen of "in-between" Jorie Graham?
Jorie Graham isn't really my style. But I do like some of the style of Dean Young. You can count on the style of Dean Young. He has a great voice. You could recognize it anywhere.
I can no longer attempt to separate mind/body. I just gotta think through language. Rigor doesn't have to be boring, a chore etc. I just don't get the point of most of the contemporary poetry books at Barnes and Noble. I mean who's their audience besides poets in MFA programs?
I want an audience of critical, thoughtful readers. I don't want an audience over 1200 at the peak of my work. Ego can cripple artists. I'll take 12 rigorous readers over 200,000 readers inspired by my style!
I know this has been argued many times before. Nothing new. But I once thought I was in-between and it was best not to be a part of any group or tradition. But that is perhaps the most pervasive tradition of all. Now I feel the in-between isn't in-between shit. It's part of the mainstream of individual genius etc. Bill Knot is a genius. Bill Knot is a misunderstood poet. And so on. There is a shitload of variety coming out of the avant garde traditions. It's certainly not monolithic. Sometimes poets coming out of the avant garde tradition are taken as tokens by the mainstream (John Ashberry etc.) But that doesn't make him in-between.
Bill Knot sucks but his brand (i.e. his name) carries some clout because he is a misunderstood genius. Let's hear it for Bill Knot!
I wonder if I say Bill Knot twelve times if he'll magically appear:
Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot
Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot Bill Knot