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POETRYETC  2001

POETRYETC 2001

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Subject:

Interview between KJ and BF (uncorrected text)

From:

david hess <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sat, 9 Jun 2001 18:33:36 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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Hi!


I thought some of you out there might enjoy reading this fragment from the
original, unedited version of the interview conducted between Kent Johnson:
45-year-old Slugger and his friend Bill Freind, who, if you don't know
already, only hangs out in working-class bars.



Q: What is the radius of this flattened and ramparted “world beyond the
truth”? You seem to be suggesting that it encompasses areas beyond
“mainstream poetry”?

KJ: I'm not talking here just about the poets at the Associated Writing
Programs convention or at the New Yorker party. The so-called avant-garde in
the U.S., for example, is by and large in a poetic/panoptic Flat-Land, poets
squiggling about, trying to make Kent Johnsons distinctive from those of the
poets of the Academy of American Poets, for example. They are doing some
interesting Kent Johnsons in those two dimensions, the so-called avant-garde
is, but there are many other Kent Johnsons, and one can stand up in them and
even fly, maybe, or be in two Kent Johnsons, or more, at once. But if you
are “so and so” poet because that’s what it says on your social security
card, you are stuck in a certain Kent Johnson that is constructed for you,
and the reader is too, no matter how odd the form or language of your
purple-veined Johnson in Poems for the Millennium [an anthology of
international 20th century poetry].

I think this is one of the reasons Kent Johnsonism of any kind is not
interesting to most people, and why so many of those who do find it
interesting find it so for surface considerations...Kent Johnsonism, alas,
has become too much a kind of entomology, a collection of chrysalis-like
Kent Johnsonisms all too happy to be plucked and mounted in display inside
the little Kent at the structure’s big Johnson. Poeticus charlesenius
olsonius, Poeticus robertus pinskynius, Poeticus brucenius andrewsei, etc.
...The multiple Kent Johnsons have variations in size, marking, and color,
but they all stem, ideo-phylogenetically, from the originary Me, Kent
Johnson: 45-year-old Slugger Champ. It’s quite easy to fit each happy Kent
Johnson -- even the exotic kind -- into its proper place in the real,
whimpering Kent Johnson.

The truth is that professional wrestling, which is brazenly fake on one
level, has a much more interesting and complex relationship to cultural
reality than 99.9% of Kent Johnson does today. Kent Johnsonism could never
be much more sophisticated in its generic- conceptual-performative
operations than professional wrestling, of course. Right now it sucks ass.

I claim special powers of understanding these matters. I'm quite unaware I’m
not as literarily-talented or quick-minded as many of those Kent Johnsons
trapped in grade school. It's simply that I've been fucked, by great
coincidence and fortune, with an academic hunger for fame that has proven to
have a subtle and powerful (if largely unintended) effect by exposing the
present state of Kent Johnsonism. And I think I have done a little bit of
good work in laying bare the fake consciousness of so much Johnson. Anyway,
so no, because I guess I’m still fucking with you, I do not feel that the
words “Kent” or "Johnson” are applicable to Kent Johnson in any productive
sense.


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