tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > "Language" Poetries: An Anthology

"Language" Poetries by Douglas Messerli
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In the original Amazon entry for this bk, the title doesn't have the word "Language" in quotes. It's precisely this sort of genericizing of language (the removal of even the most apparently minor deviances to 'correct' form: ie: quotes or unusual capitalization or whatnot are too deviant from 'proper' form that they're removed as if they're mistakes or some such) vs the sensitivity of 'Language Writing' & the like that makes 'Language Writing' (or "Language" Writing) 'important'.

But, 1st , yet-another-personal-anecdote-from-tENT-that's-pretty-much-irrelevant-to-this-bk-but-rings-w/-personal-significance-for-this-reviewer:

In 1979, I was a participant in the "Festival of Disappearing Art(s)" organized by the Merzaum Collective & scheduled to occur at both the Red Door Hall in Baltimore & at the WPA (Washington Project for the Arts) in Washington, DC. On Sunday, May 6th, at 3PM I was to 'perform' my "T he Phantom of t he Opera" at the WPA. Douglas Messerli attended b/c he was vaguely familiar w/ me thru L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Magazine & was curious about what I'd do. Given that this was a daytime thing (most of the performances were at nite) it didn't seem very likely that anyone wd attend so my co-performer(s) decided to participate in a political protest that day wch we all agreed was more important anyway. Messerli was the only audience member I can (re)member being there. He was disappointed by its not happening & I was flattered that he cared. That's biased me in his favor to this day.

Back to the review: I feel a close connection to this anthology. People that I know or at least met once are in it: Jackson Mac Low, Hannah Weiner, Ray DiPalma, James Sherry, Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Alan Davies, Diane Ward. I publish tapes by many of these folks - including Tina Darragh. Having this anthology come out was exciting, seeing a 'movement' take more & more concrete shape. In Messerli's intro he writes:

"I have increasingly encountered general readers, students, and professors who, cornering me, ask: "But tell us, what is 'Language' poetry?"

"That question, whether friendly or hostile, delivers to the muscles of my back and shoulders a slight flinch. How much it presumes!-that there is a single definition or a unified complex of ideas which applies to "Language" poetry, and underlying that assumption, that there is an identifiable group of poets which can be described as writing whatever one defines "Language" writing as being."

Note his use of 'Language' & "Language". Later, he explains that "The poets in this anthology have all foregrounded language itself as the project of their writing. For these poets, language is not something that explains or translates experience but is the source of experience." Write on. Write: "off".
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 10, 2008 – Shelved
July 10, 2008 – Shelved as: poetry

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message 1: by Ross (last edited Jun 06, 2009 10:55PM) (new)

Ross Brighton "It's precisely this sort of genericizing of language (the removal of even the most apparently minor deviances to 'correct' form: ie: quotes or unusual capitalization or whatnot are too deviant from 'proper' form that they're removed as if they're mistakes or some such) vs the sensitivity of 'Language Writing' & the like that makes 'Language Writing' (or "Language" Writing) 'important'. "
Have you read "Random Clod"'s essay "Information on Information"?


tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE Nope, not familiar w/ it. Where's it published?


message 3: by Ross (new)

Ross Brighton I'm not sure, I've got a pdf. Give me your email and i'll send it to you if you want


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