In a recent email, Vikas Menon writes: “while i’ve been reading a great deal of poetry, i realized i’ve been sorely negelecting texts on poetics — can you drop me a line when you get a chance on some texts that can act as guideposts to further reading?” I tried to do just that, writing down what quickly came to mind and easily to hand off the shelf. What struck me most compiling this brief list, sitting here in Albany & relying on my English-language library, was that it included very little non-North American materials — some fall backs on European Avant-Garde traditions, sure, but not much beyond (in Ed Dorn’s words) “some business recently transacted in the White World.” (Alcalay’s, Rothenberg’s, & some of my essays being the exceptions that confirm the rule). As if a poetics based on a single language & culture were still a valid situation. Especially when that culture is swaggering all over the place, imposing its “vision” — both culturally & politically — on the world at large. Of course the fact that much poetics material from other places & cultures hasn’t been translated or gathered into accessible books, can be seen as an integral part of yankee hegemonic strivings. My own limitations are also flagrantly visible, in terms of intra-North American ethnic poetics. So, I’ll reprint the list below, more or less in the randomish order in which I put it down for Vikas, in order to elicit responses, additions, suggestions, etc., while beginning to take notes toward that “other” list I think is needed to counter the all-too US-oriented inclination of this one. Of course one way to do this would also be to send Vikas — & the readers of this blog — back (or forward, as the case may be) to the Poems for the Millennium
anthologies, which do carry a certain charge of poetics, in the commentaries and in the “Manifestos” section.
SOME ESSENTIAL CONTEMPORARY TEXTS OF/ON POETICS
Jed Rasula: Syncopations; The American Poetry Wax Museum; This Compost.
Jerome Rothenberg: Pre-Faces & Other Writings.
Clayton Eshleman: Companion Spider.
Robert Kelly: In Time.
Lyn Hejinian: The Language of Inquiry.
Nathaniel Mackey: Discrepant Engagement – Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing.
Allen Fisher: Traps or Tools and Damage; Ideas on The Culture Dreamed of.
Pierre Joris: A Nomad Poetics.
Ammiel Alcalay: Memories of our Future.
Anne Waldman: Vow to Poetry.
Don Byrd: The Poetics of the Common Knowledge.
John Taggart: Songs of Degrees – Essays on Contemporary Poetry and Poetics.
Alice Notley: Coming After – Essays on Poetry.
Charles Bernstein: A Poetics; Content’s Dream; My Way.
Charles Bernstein, editor: The Politics of Poetic Form.
Michael Palmer: Code of Signals – Recent Writings on Poetics.
Joan Retallack: The Poethical Wager.
Marjorie Perloff: Radical Artifice.
Mark Wallace & Steven Marks, editors: Telling it Slant: Avant-Garde Poetics in the 1990s.
Christopher Beach, editor: An Anthology of New Poetics.
Bob Perelman: The Marginalization of Poetry.
Anne Waldman & Andrew Schelling, editors: Disembodied Poetics. Annals of the Jack Kerouac School.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis: The Pink Guitar – Writing as Feminist Practice
Ann Vickery: Leaving Lines of Gender – A Feminist Genealogy of Language Writing.
Laura Hinton & Cynthia Hogue: We who Love to be Astonished – Experimental Women’s Writing and Performance Poetics.
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