Wednesday, November 23, 2005

I Dares Ya

There was an interesting comment on the Ron Silliman blog to the effect that poetry should be "daring." I find this odd. I mean, yes, poets should be challenging themselves I guess; but what does it mean to be "daring?" Mandelstam's Stalin Ode was pretty daring - it got him killed, but short of declaiming poetry whilst walking across the Niagara Falls on a high wire, in what way is poetry daring? It's certainly not life-threatening to write Language poetry, for instance, though Harold Bloom and Helen Vendler (not to mention our own Sean O'Brien) might come round and bop you on the nose.

But there is a certain amount of "dare" involved in doing things different from the way you did them before, or the way anyone else has done things before. Putting a canvas on the floor and dripping paint over its surface takes a certain trust in the process; you could make an absolute mess of things and end up with something that looks like an explosion in a paint factory. Instead of which, you end up with great art. So I find, when I think about this, that once again I contradict myself.

And poets can sometimes get themselves into ruts: this works well, I'll keep doing it till it starts becoming pure rote. Then you get to the stage where you even bore yourself; but everything's done well and nothing is "bad." It might even be admired.

"Daring" can itself turn a revolt into a style though. If you're so determined to be "different", you can often end up sounding just like everybody else, like rock stars so eager to be "real" they turn out to be clones of each other. Being true to whatever you you're playing with at the time is much better than trying to find some mythical authentic self among the rock-star postures. For all I'm not a real fan, Robbie Williams is still better than Coldplay because at least he doesn't take himself too seriously.

I was at an open mike event yesterday, and they played lots of Motown records: the Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson. Pure commercial gold, not in the least experimental or daring it might seem. Certainly not prog rock, which proclaimed itself as so very advanced and meaningful but which now seems as stodgy as wet bread. But you could dance to them, they had killer bass-lines and were as sexy as Brifgette Bardot. And, along the way, quite a lot more adventurous and daring than some of that self-consiously experimental muso-music beloved of middle-class prog-fans.

So daring is not about choosing the most extreme technique; it's stretching yourself, trusting the process, seeing what you can do, in poetry as in all the other arts. And if you've never written a sonnet, then dare yourself to try.

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IRISH POETS said...

Hi dare spam fancy dress fans to find a way out of posting wanky messages which fool no-one.

"Hi, I came across your blog"

No you didn't, you are an automated message programmed by geeky business students dreaming of the one big hit, out there on the edge of commercial endevour, being predictable and boring. But, to dare or what?

I say "here here" to all who try anything different. So Silliman chancing his arm on a sonnet would be a dare, as long is it wasn't a jumble of loosely numericlines with between 8-10 syllablles in them, which the langpo crew are happy to call a sonnet. A bit like calling a large cardboard box a house because it has the same shape.

Why do they do that?

The current debate of dare though lies with the TS Eliot lecture, which I have nearly finished reading, but already my thoughts are firming up. My first impression, before I had read a word and just having seen the title, was that he was going for a Frostean register, because of the word "figure". However he starts well, but his argument collapses when he recounts why he started writing poems. He said that he was 17 and shown the poem of an acquataince by another mate, and it was so false and unture to life he felt compelled to write on in response to the fakeness of it all. Utter bollocks I say.

Prior to this Siertz is chugging along nicely, making pretty shapes and lots of libgo that will no doubt be described as

"superb...wonderful...brilliant....blah blah blah." by the professional chatterers professing a deep concern with the well being of poesie. However when he recounts his first impulse to write poetry, it struck me that he was using the exact same dodges which he was moaning about in the first part of the essay; about the sophistry in language and how


"The terms and truns of speech are part of a discourse that determines outcomes and controls debate" and

"language is not a tool but a medium"

He gave a great long spiel about how language can be corrupted and used by the educated elite to keep the serfs downtrodden, the usual gen designed to give off the vibe that he is a humble wordmerchant, hinting that he is only interested in truth, beauty and the pure art, but when it comes to the turn, he starts giving it the big one about wanting to write because someone he knew wrote a crap poem. He says that this was the first poem he had read written by someone he knew, and it was so false to life his being was overtaken by the muse and another worldy spirit forced hium into action to redress the balance. Well maybe not, but you get the picture.

Another reading would say that this was just the reaction of a jealous 17 year old, which I would find more credible as the spin Siertz puts on it is too far fetched. How many 17 year olds are really wandering round like Byron, Shelly or a young Wordsworth, siezed by outside powers which compell them to right percieved injustices on behalf of art?

These emotions, I would contest, are the windy arguments put up by dreamy youths whose imaginations are fizzing on overtime, cluttered up with the flame of fancy and weaving their dreams into blockbuster epics where they are the central protaganist, free from moral blemish and here to save the world.

A strong reaction maybe, but no less convincing than Siertz himself, who had a few pops at the Don of last years prattle, and furthers the idea that the poetry world's one constant is the cut and thrust, dust ups, scraps, spats, chance scuffles and protracted battles that occur when poets present themselves through print.

He jumps in rehashing the Astley angle about publishers being poets who constrict the market and then in the same breath says how great and wonderful and how much he respects his own publisher. Cor blimey, knock me down with a lanky streal of piss, Siertz is daring to be different.

IRISH POETS said...

New breaking news of daring lingo on the Swift site where he bum licks Siertz and slags off Stephen Fry, the immensely intelligent and talented global artist.

Wots goin' on?

Well, I don't know, but I do know that after listening to Fry waffling a langugae chocca full of metrically technical terms striking with deeply felt pertinance, an awareness within the mind I percieve as being at play behind jolly hockeysticks registers, suggestive of fag bashings and public school-centric elites of poesie pontificaters imbued as one in commune with a god given right bestowed upon intellects sharpened on Etonian playing fields, where rugger and buggery are two highly normal mechanisms through which power is naturally manifesting itself to the heavy hitters of a future age, as yet not upon us, but soon to be so UK side.

Holding this mix of thought as a dilineating concentric circular boundary of outer ripples bordering the concentration ring into which I step, all philisophical exploration becomes defunct as a sublime fleeting energy jolts me to create an image of generic redundant public passenger drivers vaguely resembling the fictional character of "Blakey" from the 60's comedy smash sitcom "On the Buses"; and appearing instantly juxtaposed against the backdrop of kaleadescopically swinging heydays painting in an electronic canvas,
"Terry" from "The Likely Lads" shape tweens through time and space, alternating with Blakey in a newly created constantly morphing symbol of cultural identity.

I move beyond the glow of footlights and stride onstage, brought into a conceptual reality by use of an a priori software pulling "secret levers" in the Sertzean "universe" where Don's overdue a critical mauling and the sound patterns I first wrote of over at the ablemuse site where Mark Granier hones his blade of intellect come flooding back to affirm my faith that in the Amergin attributed deposit I will uncover a truth to shut up the gabbling rabble of Swiftean like "talentless popinjays" who concern themselves with fundamentals of poetry, desribed in Amergin as "binding principles of good poetic construction."

And fans of Don, Georget and "any number of other truly brilliant, talented, hard-working, formalist poets now writing and publishing in Great Britain," will be silenced when writing's whole methodology, particularly within spectrums of critical humanism, changes exponentially in ever shortening amounts of time; so much so that obscure pearls of guff and wisdom, from ancient scribblers to avant-garde show offs will be rustled up from an absence patrolled by light moving in binary coded optical data bits through a controlling movement of fingertips tickling keyboards.

With a seriously stern and straight faced approach to potency I have perceived via the medium of reality TV shows where Gordon Ramsey gives out dressing downs to wanabee carrot choppers dishing up the dips for a restaurant full of Jamie Oliver watchers and readers wanting to be a part of the latest infomercial for the next nights episode, or larger still, pitching ambition to a curve of instant poesie at buckle, they will feast their eyes and ears at a gozzy gawp gawk fest to be recorded on Tuesday at the new pizza restaurant venue adjacent to Eamon Dorans, Temple Bar, Dublin 1; so keep watching this space readers and lovers of the truth Siertzy boy would wet his knickers over where he to know it fully.

IRISH POETS said...

PS, Top Up George

First, da word on the war of an immensley talented all new langpo language maestro and full time party host MC Megagag.

George, Swifty and their not so incredible mates are on software medication; pop ups, light tablets and full time injections. Their only desire is to ask for more, with black and white certainties in bullseye tosses, throw after throw, every time, to go beyond and become constantly alive in a tastefully engineered practical frame of pure spectacle.

Not the disposable ones, the freebies and throwaways, the ones they don't want. Not like Dawn's recyclable wrap-arounds; the shiny see through accessories at the OT fashion show. Glasses like that never go out because they're always in, just like George and Swifty and the teams of consultants at the war veterans hospital, the Vale, on ward 11; viewing, watching, making a difference to planetrary affairs and taking a tiny part in the show themselves just by being there on-ward when it's going on. Plugged to the full top up.

Bullsye tossers; addicted to work, play, tlc, a PC, biscuits, tea and a few games of Bully, where they tip the mask and become avatars to deport through fibre as leaders and top bottle-washers heading a cypher mass of conquistidors in lone rule; dominant elites, bossing about all day and the state in welfare others connect with via George, the sling and mockney barrow boy daring himself in the words of lingo laws.

One of Georges many bum lickers, Swifty, is thinking of chancing his arm on a sonnet, as long is it isn't just a jumble of loosely numered lines with between 8-10 syllablles, which the straight "A" gang of Full Dollar, DJ Dazzle, Ron the silly man, and Swifty's fellow colleagues on the rap crew are happy to call a sonnet.

A bit like naming a cardboard box a house, thinks Swifty, just because it has six clearly dilineated boundaries keeping out the terror shapes of a beyond the Full Dollar is scared of, touching cloth about, going beyond, uncontrollable and kacking his load over.

"No," he writes

"they are not the same. Both are seperately seen and their presence noted, should there be a need to do so."

So why do they waffle their wonky words which fool no-one but themselves?

Because the current "debate of dare" lies with 2005's recent TS lecture, which Swifty has just finished reading, and already his thoughts are firming up. His first impression, after he read the title, is that this year's seer in speech speaking his blather, the TS reader podium god; was attempting a Frostean register, because the legend of "figure" appears. George Siertz starts well, thinks Swifty. He can not speak, all is not there as his recorded life begins and he chuggs along great guns, but after finding himself a fair way into the seer's maxims Swifty gets to the proper doings. The twinkling tingle and jolt off full gen. The biggy that won't hide, Swifty learns, is that George began his career in poesy at 17, in a far off past when life was one eternal day of Tir nOg commerce at Poetry PLC HQ where George was a new nobody who new orbits of reality connect through undying, to love always in bloom.

The seer in Siertz is at his physical peak in a paradise of the mind where only thought can roam, when he is shown the identity of an "other", in a piece of text he, the unamed "other" dares to call a poem. The poem of a faceless contemporary, shown to George, by another unamed acquataince playing the linguistically small but syntactically big role of being, just another no-one. He who shall remain nameless; for to do so is just not George's natural way. He does not have that kind of false minstrel mask to don, for within his ouvre there is no make-up and paint bag of the shaman and charlatan whose works on paper are utter bollocks. Not the full top up.

After reading this text George Siertz is outraged at the impertinance of the nameless phoney poet and impulsed to wallow in poesy himself. Show the fakers "what's behind the dream", as the poet Rody Ryan might say, by writing a response. Present himself to the world having "read the commentaries...appearing informed", staying "topped up", and wishing only to motor along like the Mossbawn bard, making pretty shapes in lots of lingo. Dance at disco Parnassus, the posh place with real taste certificates and an upmarket jiggy vibe, getting with it according to the rules, the ones in the cannon, knocked up by the greats who found the edge of mental but weren't bonged out to the bonkers state that gets described as

"superb, wonderful and brilliant" by professional chatterers professing a deep concern with the well being of poesy and her slaves.

It strikes Swifty, that Siertz uses the exact same dodges which he moans about in the first part of his TS essay; about sophistry in language and how


"The terms and turns of speech are part of a discourse that determines outcomes and controls debate" and "language is not a tool but a medium"

George Siertz gave a great long spiel about how language can be corrupted and used to keep the serfs, like himself, downtrodden; the usual guff designed to give off humble word merchant vibes, hinting that he is only interested in truth, beauty and pure art. However when it comes to the turn and the two unnamed bit parts of annonymous poet and unamed fellow youth roll on his stage of page he begins "giving it the big one" about wanting to write because someone he was connected to wrote a crap poem. His relationship with this person is not dilineated or given detail; he is just the blur and smudge Siertz is asking us to trust him on, that he was "lousey", in the Don Patterson way.

George says that this was the first poem he had read written by someone he knew, and it was so false to life his being was overtaken by another worldy spirit and he was forced into action to redress the balance.

Swifty, however, reads it another way, believing it to be an obvious reaction in the jealous 17 year old he imagines Siertz was back then, getting miffed that another may be gifted, just like Swifty is jealous of George? Swifty finds this a more credible plot, as the Siertzean spin George gives is too far fetched for him to swallow whole. Swifty asks

"How many 17 year olds are really wandering round like Byron, Shelly or a young Wordsworth, siezed by outside powers which compell them to right percieved injustices on behalf of art?"

Swifty contests that, the kernel at the heart of this TS delivery is but windy arguments put up by a dreamy youth whose imagination is fizzing on overtime, cluttered up with the flame of fancy and weaving its dream into blockbuster epics where he is the central protaganist, free from moral blemish and here to save the world.

Siertz has a few pops at the Don of last years prattle, and furthers the idea that the poetry world's one constant is the cut and thrust, dust ups, scraps, spats, chance scuffles and protracted battles that occur when poets present themselves through print.

He rehashes the tingling Astley angle about publishers being poets who constrict the market and, in the same breath, says how great and wonderful and how much he respects his own publisher. Cor blimey, knock me down with a lanky streak of soft hair, George Siertz, daring to be different.

But the Full Dollar, the one who Swifty switches off the comment box for because he is a stalker talking scary; beyond the usual. Not the usual anglo, but a born druid and full time wandering bore, with 24 hours of piss poor play in the day with which to entertain his fallow bards, regular readers and fellows at the academy of madness bringing life to deposit, with smoke and mirrors, moonshine, black bag, ops, purple rain by Prince, before slipping into the moniker of artist, formally known as the trotting pompenjay plodding his words, some might say, in the background of sound in the record of Swifty's mental illness, written about as part of MC Megagag's ongoing occupational therapy