In some of the comments in my last big post, people took me to task about renaming the actors in a poetic debate.
My intention was not to rebrand "School of Quietude" and "Post-Avant" as "Oral Poetry" and "Visual Poetry,"
my intention is to reframe the debate. The problems that exist are not between the new and the old, as Silliman seems to think -- there's no rebellion here.
The problems that exist are due to a critical impasse that has become a funcitonal and increasingly financial impasse -- so they're problems that need to be dealt with.
The impasse, as I've said is not new and old, but apples and pears. They look sort of the same. Their trees look sort of the same. Heck, they're even members of the same subfamily
yet some people are devotees of apples and some of pears.
Some people like both.
But if you were a food critic and you couldn't distinguish between the two, there'd be a problem. If you were a seller of fruit, and didn't know a bartlett from a macintosh, you'd hear about it. If you were a customer, and the pears were in the apple cart, we'll, you'd go and pick up some of those novel oranges you hear everyone likes so much.
Now for some of you, you may be horrified that I'm speaking of poetry as if it were a commodity.
Well, it is. It's art, yes -- but you've got to sell it to the people. If you believe all art should be free and that no one should profit from it, please go start your own website and put all of your work up on there. Good luck with that. . . If you aren't willing to do that, then you should ask yourself what makes you uncomfortable talking about the marketization of poetry.
Marketization is important because that's partially how something thrives among humans -- why are there more cows than tigers? Because cows taste really good. If tigers tasted like bacon, we'd have tiger farms across the nation. Now, this isn't always the case -- creating something commercially with no regard for taste usually gives you wal*mart white bread, pop 40 radio, and Billy Collins. I'm not arguing for that. What I am arguing for is that poets start to pay attention to the fact that they are producing not just art -- but a product as well. Every other artist does that. Jeez!
(back to the point)
And since marketization (of which criticism is a large part) is so important to the survival of poetry, we as poets owe it to ourselves, our audience, and our art (that's in reverse order of importance, btw) to really codify what the heck we're doing in such a way that it becomes conversate-able (that is, something that folks can talk about).
Ergo, instead of looking down our noses at the "inferior" poets who don't write what we think is the Platonic Good of poetry, we can see that they are not inferior -- simply other, and we can embrace them as another facet of art.
So to close with simplicity, there are two forms of poetry:
Poetry whose meaning is independent of seeing its words on the page. Though placement on the page may be used for reading guides, a written oral poem is essentially a piece of sheet music. Any change in the words' placement will likely not result in a substantial change in the poem's meaning.
Poetry whose meaning is dependent upon seeing its words on the page. A visual poem is not like a piece of sheet music but a work of two-dimensional art. Any change in the words' placement is likely to result in a noticable change in the poem's meaning.