Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BAP mmmmmrrrff's

I haven't read the new Best American Poetry (mmmrrrffff sound accompanied), and I don't know if I will. But one thing that seems to happen with each new one is that people start talking about 'aesthetics' again. And I kind of want to say who cares! Really. To me poetry that actively resists aesthetics is much more interesting. OK. Maybe a poetry that engages aesthetics. Aesthetics exists, as an ideological presence sure. And poetry should not exist in a vacuum. But so often it seems to, in a stuffy, yet disturbingly tidy, white, and yeah male vacuum. I don't think the answer is ignore aesthetics. At least, I don't know of any poetry that does do that successfully. And what kind of goal is that anyway? --to ignore something-- Poetry that would try to ignore aesthics, it seems, would fall into the trap of aesthetics in the worst way.

A poet who I used to read who I don't really look at much anymore is Charles Simic. I used to enjoy some of his poems quite a bit, and when I go back to them I can still kind of see why. But they take this attitude toward aesthetics that feels like 'We all know whats beautiful and what isn't, why trifle?'. There's just a tin-eared presentation of 'images' and 'insights'. To me, this takes away all of the investigative power that poetry has. Same with Billy Collins idea that a poem should be like an easily accesible apartment building, a cushy thing, about as risky as a Fudruckers. And at least you get a Cheeseburger there. In these kinds of poems all you get are images of the white male poet enjoying his own domesticity. Unquestioningly, unless its a question some dead person already covered, and they can put a little aesthetic around the icing, as it were. (mmmrrrrfff)

Like my friend Chuck said, there's a sufficiency thing. Like, heres what my poem does, take or leave it.

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