Thanks, Keston, for the prompt. Yes, I read Drew's review of SH (in
the 2nd issue of Gare du Nord) shortly before going west. I recommend
it to anyone who's interested in John Wilkinson's work - the review
is supportive and engaged, but in terms of what Drew sees as the
quandaries of W's work, and the provoked "inattention" in the reader,
which comes from a sort of rhetorical plenitude playing over a
"monotone" of distance and alienation effect. I don't have the text
here, otherwise I would quote a bit. It's encouraging to read
something as pointed as this (and it's not a long piece) but which is
admissive of spending further time with this poetry, not at all
dismissive. My only aside on Drew's piece would be along the lines
that JW's rhetoric has a joyous quality which then pushes itself as
far as it can towards the condition of symptom and liability, but we
need to acknowledge as readers that this is something like an
available "gratitude" of poetic effect - if you can take my meaning.
Recently back from Exmouth, I thought it a remarkable event, and in
the seasoned British manner got on with what was to go on with no
fuss and no sense of false news. It was a large and (so far as I
could judge) a widely mixed audience - a much wider circuit than
name-poets speaking to names. There was a predominance of interest in
the work of the Americans, mainly because there are so many mutations
within that, not just as women's poetry but because of that emergence
- it's there the landscape rebegins to fan out. But on another tack,
there was the chance to hear Douglas Oliver reflecting on Cambridge
in the 70@s - the divergences along/from that track, and in
particular the move in Andrew Crozier towards openness of genre (from
within a caring sobriety of language) rather than openness of syntax.
Bob Perelman was good (throughout) on the emerging
respect for a sociality of language that is now preoccupying many in
the Language tradition.
Is it thankless of me to say that my main impression was that the
conference's title-cue, the postmodern, was treated as some sort of
usable norm for the furnishing of rhetorics - in many ways very much
a non-standard take on the term, as its self-contestation so often
precludes anything else. The postmodern as convention? - certainly.
It's the point of its ramification, moving out from a cultural
phenomenom which, as such, is no longer covered.
Tony Lopez deserves special thanks for putting all this together
and for keeping it moving it along in such a self-effacing way. But
it was good to hear him read, together with all the other vocalities
of performance from the text (John Kinsella outstanding here) or the
overheard sound of the text (Perelman, Welish). I knew I wasn't at a
minimalist conference though - noone read slowly - they timed their
lines but not their breathing.
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