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Academic Poetry circa the '90's

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message 1: by Seth (last edited Dec 07, 2015 09:27AM) (new)

Seth Kupchick (goodreadscomseth_kupchick) | 41 comments I hate academic poetry, spit on academic poetry, abhor academic poetry, descry academic poetry, submit to academic poetry, lick the boots of academic poetry, subscribe to academic poetry, and remit my subscription. I am academic poetry in contradistinction, a failed academic poet, a flawed surveyor of the scenery, depicting the East Coast and West Coast Beats, but the academics focused on safer poets, who figured out how to live middle class lives, while writing obscure works, that no one ever wanted to read. I defied academic poetry to suss me out and when it did I hid from it forever and went to Hal Chase's farm instead of an MFA program, like so many of my friends, trying to figure out how to live, writing quasi-free verse. I demanded academic poetry give something back to me, a reason to live, a spontaneous explosion of meaning, but all it ever gave were questions, that I'd rather not answer. How to write, how to spell, how to punctuate, why not to say God, why not to study the Beats, why to study the few writers of an era obviously influenced by the Beats, but not free enough to ever be part of their movement, and make an art of life, the final revolutionary act. To the Beats, writing was only the beginning to a greater consciousness expanding freedom they imagined lying in the layers between words, but to an academic his only existence was on the page, his only being, and to be denied this would be to have nothing, lost in the annals of history, but the true Beat didn't care. Art was a performance mimicking life and structure only a means to imitate, not to create or embellish. The Beats were anti-academic, at a time before the academics stormed academia with promises of tenured positions and a mediocre life fucking their students.

So, what did the academics give me? The right to call myself a writer, to think I belonged among an elite group. to workshop my poems and prose to know how great an ego I had, and who would go out with me in the class. To think that I had a chance at somehow living as a writer outside of academia where men had destinies, or used to in the days of the Lost Generation and the Beats, my heroes. Form was only a means to an end, a beginning before the chaos of the world intruded upon the mind, and forced real revelations contained within form, but few of the academics ever felt this freedom, always wondering if they were going to get published, who they were going to insult, what they might mitigate in their next negotiation with the Deans, if they revealed too much, or were too guarded. The Beats had their guard down, thinking of each other, and then thinking of an audience, but never a group of professors.... maybe publishers, but not professors. What could professors get you in terms of immortality? Pound and Eliot had their day in the loony bin, and no one was going to let that happen again, since Pound was a traitor, and Eliot lost his mind. We wanted our poets home and happy, free of the obligations of survival. We didn't want them to think of an audience outside of a think tank, a hermetically sealed bottle. They wanted to dumb down the society and fill themselves up with songs. But maybe I'm being too harsh. The academic poets were men and women like you and me trying to make a buck, and there just weren't enough publishers or readers to make their dreams come true, so they had to rely on each other, a game of survival of the fittest. I played with academia like it played with me and we grew pretty tired of each other quickly, no love lost. I didn't have what it took to kiss the teacher's ass, and my poetry wasn't precious enough, or meaningless enough, or too meaningless.

message 2: by Donald (new)

Donald (donf) | 17 comments Seth - Now tell us what you really feel about Academic poetry!!!!

I stumbled across this:

By Peter Coyote. The Title completely drew me since I know it was from Bob Dylan's "Memphis Blues Again." Coyote, from what the review says, was a student of Zen and in the circle of Merwin. It might be an interesting read, I will probably get a hold of a copy. 2nd Generation Beats????

message 3: by Seth (new)

Seth Kupchick (goodreadscomseth_kupchick) | 41 comments It was reportage, but thanks for the conversation. I'm going to be busy for the next few days but I'll get to this.

I'm starting to see there are some books on the American creative writing major (me!) and I'm curious to read them Do you like Galway Kinnel's poem, The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World. There was also a James Dickey epic about bombing runs in WW II that were almost fee verse but too refined for Beat Poetry. Will look up the title.

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