Sheila E. Murphy: Your organizational and educational experiences seem to have contributed in a wide variety of ways, bringing on an artistic version of “deferred compensation.” Given your strong familiarity with the corporate world, the university environment, and the artistic sphere, please share your views on the possibility of bringing a wider range of people to poetry. Is this a fantasy, or is it possible in our current time?
Mark Young: Let me go out on a limb here & say I believe we have already exceeded the upper limits of the poetic macrocosm, but because there are no regulations or restrictions, no fire marshalls standing at the entrances counting the numbers going in, it's going to keep on growing. For a while, anyway.
Why has it grown so much? Population growth, obviously. More people, more poets. A world made smaller by technology, & with English the lingua franca we are now seeing Indian & Chinese & Ghanian poets writing in a second language as part of the everyday offerings. The exponential growth of publishing methodology which means more books, more cheaply. More magazines—duotrope's digest has around 3000 outlets listed. The growth of MFA programs in creative writing—this is going to be one of the first areas to go belly up. It's simple economics. People in these programs are trained only to become teachers of MFA programs in creative writing programs; there will soon be—if there isn't already—an oversupply of teachers; demand for the programs will drop off because there's no guarantee of a job on the other side; & bums on seats is the guiding principle of academia these days.
So it may seem we have opposing points of view, you wanting to bring more people, me saying there are already too many. But I think we both have caveats attached, qualifiers perhaps; & what we're both moving towards is how do we attract more people—whether already in the macrocosm or still to come—to the type of poetry we care about, to that part of it we both adhere to.
Let me step outside the sphere of poetics for a moment & quote from a book that is a cornerstone of my library, Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it Kuhn puts forward his beliefs as to why certain bodies of thought, often exemplified by specific texts, provided the impetus to change the way particular fields of science were pursued, the way what he called "paradigm shifts" came about:
They were able to do so because they shared two essential characteristics. Their achievement was sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity. Simultaneously, it was sufficiently open-ended to leave all sorts of problems for the redefined group of practitioners to resolve.
I'll explain why I think Kuhn is relevant. To me, poetics, like politics, has a reasonably revolutionary left wing & a conservative right. &, again like politics, it is the left that is full of schisms. Yet the left wing has a history as strong as that that the right professes to. But these days its impact is diminished because it's splintered. I have fairly eclectic & wide-ranging tastes, but when I came back to poetry I found that if I wanted to read one group of poets I liked I had to go here, & if I wanted to read another group I had to go there, & another elsewhere, & if I wanted to see/read vispo, then I had to go searching in 100 places. & yet they're all essentially related even though sometimes the bloodlines are denied.
Back to Kuhn. We have the "enduring group of adherents"; we have the open-endedness; what we don't have is a sense of the commonality that actually does exist even though many practioners spend a deal of time turning the minor differences into unbridgeable chasms. Somehow we have to bring things back together again, to show the breadth & the strength of the left even if the house has many mansions. I think that by doing that we will attract a wider & better-informed audience. It's what I've tried to do with Otoliths. […] I think I am succeeding in bringing things back together again, to show the breadth & the strength of the left even if the house has many mansions.
We at Dirty Swan Projects are happy to announce The line up speaks for itself.
ROB HALPERN: L O V E S O N G ( T O M Y F A L L E N S O L D I E R ) BOB GLÜCK: Ed's First Sexual Experience CEDAR SIGO: 7/23/10 ROB HALPERN: from Trolley's Kind An Interview with WILDE BOY ALEX DIMITROV BRUCE BOONE: My Walk with Evan JACK FROST: Ex/Sex is a High School History Class You Remember TED REES: Bahd Nay Foo Yah TOM MEYER on Jonathan Williams Threesome Polaroids from JONATHAN WILLIAMS A Poem from SARA LARSEN
Images of Rimbaud in West Oakland from JOHNNY TOWNMOUSE, additional images from ŁUKASZ SŁAWINSKI.
NOD magazine -- the University of Calgary's undergrad-run literary magazine -- is looking for submissions. it's a fun, scrappy magazine and can use the support. why not help out?
NōD Magazine CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
Submit prose, poetry or visual art by October 31st for your chance to be published in the University of Calgary's only undergraduate literary magazine.
Submissions are accepted via e-mail (preferable) or snail mail. For e-mail submissions, please send your work as an attached file. Please inform us if you are an undergraduate or not when submitting to the magazine.
Visual artists should be aware that their work must be easily transferable into digital format and that all work will be printed in black and white except for work chosen as cover art.
NōD Magazine Department of English, University of Calgary 2500 University Drive N.W. Calgary, AB T2T 1N4
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