Friday, July 15, 2011

More of Yesterday

Maybe it wasn't clear from yesterday's post, but I like Conceptual Poetry. I like how inventive and uninhibited it can be. What I have trouble with is the notion that the framework is better than the product. For all of its ingenuity, it seems the only thing it can't do is produce a book worth reading.

Of course, I'm kidding. Kind of. I can think of plenty of books that would be classified as Conceptual Poetry that are thoroughly enjoyable reads. I'm highlighting this point because it's not the first time I've seen someone from the inside of Conceptual Poetry claim that the work is inherently inferior to the idea. If one takes serious Goldsmith's claim that one doesn't have to read these books (and that even if you wanted to, you can't), why produce them?

Let me change the subject for a moment. When you go see a movie you want it to be successful at whatever it's setting out to achieve. In spite of that hope, we all have any number of experiences where we felt the idea of the film was better than its execution. This doesn't make them bad by default, but we generally don't bandy them around as these important, cutting edge works.

There are any number of reasons why that analogy isn't applicable to the situation in poetry, but the most relevant is that these books aren't the poetic equivalent of a Hollywood action movie. They are pushing issues of ownership to the foreground, they are asking the readers consider the limit of poetry. I'm just convinced it's possible to do so while producing a book that even Kenneth Goldsmith would want to read.

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