(Nada Gordon and Gary Sullivan, Editors)
poet Gabriel Zaid, in a recent essay, calls for a "total
poetry"-that is, a poetry fully integrated into one's work,
love life, recreational pursuits, "daily life," etc.
you aspire to have your poetic practice encompass and/or spring
from all aspects of life and experience?
yes, how and to what extent have you succeeded in doing so?
no, what kinds of parameters do you set for your poetic practice?
* * *
First, some queries of my own-with "answers" (imbedded
polemics) frontloaded. Aren't poets in the U.S. (where
most of the forum participants are writing from) already
writing "about" everything under the sun? Their cockatoo's,
their eminent third-uncle bassoonists, their filmic (gaussy
or pixilated) rushing rivers, etc-
how is this not all "integrated"-or could we ever
imagine it not being so in our lives' practices? Already
there's no writing that exists at a remove. Who's writing on
the third moon of Saturn-is still "integrated."
word "Total" is (curiously) standing in-is an interloper
for, the word Total. [And my apologies Mr. Zaid, whom
I haven't met, know next to nothing about, nor have the resources
(as yet) for integrating you (the complex of your social being
/ cultural practice) in the dynamic of the political / cultural
/ literary environs that this act is taking place in].
So that "total" is the sign, in fact, that is being
struggled over, while "integrated" is the conduit
for its spillage (something that is basic rhetoric-as old as
St. Augustine's "meditations").
"total" that'd I'd "call for" is the sweeping
surge of How'd We Get Here? (or thereabouts, torquing). What
forces are shaping this all-called up from way back, as well
as their near "total" fulfillment of an imperative
(pre-scribed?) Future. That is what we're in contention
with (continuously), or complicit with. And often both! The
struggle against The Exploitation of our very sinews
(in time and space), against Racism, against "divinely
inspired" tomfooleries, against anti-woman speech/thought/action.
is complexity for me. There's worlds of "integrations"
around all this. And interruptions. And transformations. Forms-oh-kay.
"total" strikes me as a very now-frozen
total. No, I don't want to see poems read at the
Super Bowl Halftime (public executions). Nor do I want the (alleged)
"daily" raised to any principle, frankly. Poetry is
(can be more of a) directed practice. It's specialized artistry
and social practice. In highly complex (capitalist) societies
it's almost a science as to how to act on that complexity:
A need to measure, calculate-innovate. Poetry can produce abundance
of newer meaning, it can be "ever searching", but
it is always "integrated" to that other (historic)
sense of "total".
so the question that stands out here is, what does "a call"
mean for "integrating" that which is already
their credit, Nada and Gary are employing (an excerpt of) Zaid's
call as a poetic-political platform for their new tenure
at The St. Mark's-as a tone-setter, or rallying instance. Me?
I prefer it frontloaded, just like that. And so my (friendly)
speculation is that this forum acts to amplify and confederate
several related galaxies of American Poetries of which they're
key activists. And yet, they're allowing a democratic discussion
/ instance too, by way of a critical reception to that
process. And that's an "integration" one based on
common cultural work between us.