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Thus it is a place of conflict and cross motives. Blue Studio is particularly a metaphor for working through negativity, an idea that threads through this book. These layered cultural associations of the word, for DuPlessis, are full of private associations in addition to implications about gender: I began blue--as a Blau. This onomastic word offered Sign In to view the full article. Gale Academic Onefile , Accessed 24 Sept. Terminology first and briefly. There are two kinds of long poems: one kind is book-length, generally ending, taking months or a few years to complete, relatively contained if also thematically rich.
Why choose to write a long poem? Well, when does a person ask this question? Beginning was like a research project or experiment: set something up or more like: recognize that something was emerging, a meditative descriptive cluster of two intermingled poems , and see whether any results emerge. To plumb the finished and unfinished? The open and closed? Only about seven years later did the poem and I collaborate to articulate its evolving mechanisms the fold, the number 19, the themes of largest and smallest, and other patterns.
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However, this is a more difficult question: what element of the social field is being condensed and elaborated in any formal urgency in a work? What, for instance, could the fold or repetition with a difference mean on such a scale? What did it mean that I sometimes used strong, heavily closural canto-endings, even rhymed ones, and yet immediately began again?
Was this an homage to the interpretive continuances in investigative practices? Were the multiple bearings of the segment line and section a way of pointing to social feelings of contradiction and hope, and of the one and the many via the splits, junctures, and combinations of verbal collage? I was hardly unaware of prior practitioners—far from it, and no one is.
Dahlen was herself infused with the romantic modernist ethos of Robert Duncan. Which is like an urge against period style. You did have in some way to break the page and break syntax in order to propel the counterpoem, to create event beyond object.
Reading any long poem is also an event, an experience in which you shift scales repeatedly, from structure to detail, from line to sentence, from statement to sound, from visual text to semantic. A reader is called in a lot of directions, and attention is difficult to organize and to prioritize. Multitexting, however, unlike multitasking, should give pleasure at every turn. When Ron Silliman answered the question why, he simply proposed that he was doing such a poem, working out the structural-rhetorical question of the sentence.
But length may simply be an effect of activity for the writer, first a choice of these activities, then crucially of their sustaining or continuance.
And once you have ended or stopped a long poem, it might be too late: the poem itself should be an answer. This argument is somewhat circular: Why did I do it? Because I had the ambition to do it. A long poem does seem to be a mark of ambition. The metabook, the counterbook, is by definition endless and unfinishable, always a pulse of evocative light chryselephantine? This answer ambition does suggest that a long poem is, and remains, a benchmark of achievement and even that long-poem writers have some lingering sense of the hierarchy of genres, a hierarchy that is problematic, patriarchal, and even obsolete—except as it saturates cultural heritage.
My surface denial that overt gender topics and stances were a direct motivation for Drafts is an underhanded acknowledgment that they did matter. Alice Notley has offered a cunning and intelligent defense of the meaning of epic narrative for her work. What could hold handle transmit incubate resound digress permit transgress more than the long poem?
If implicit arguments about long poems do propose hierarchies of genre, of gender, of cultural achievement , repeatedly engaging and disengaging with this is a feature of female work in the long poem. So do female writers have the poetic stamina, cultural scope, and intellectual leverage to write longpoems or long poems?
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Feminism represents the ethical life-spring of this task: an unwavering investigation of cultural history. Making reference to the formative work of Butler, Cixous, Irigarary, et al. This profusion of questions, of positions investigated, agendas dissimilated, refuted, rewon, cast aside, thought through again and again comes to us via a rhetoric of considered humility and egolessness. Digging out.
Digging up. Digging across the field. Once you start, you recognize how far down there is to go, how much work to do.
Everything would have to be remade — all cultural products, all fields — name them! Write past this figure? And not there. A fissure or gap that tells another history of poetry, radically different and far more troubling from the one we are likely to experience in the culture-at-large. Lyric beauty, it might be said, relies heavily upon this arrangement, this kind of cultural silencing, and creates for the poet seeking to work outside of normative gender protocol a problem with no easy answers — and many hard ones. A kind of cultural tautology emerges, burdensome, difficult to ignore, necessary to explore — and explode — from within: poetry and its representations mean a certain kind of elaboration of the feminine and masculine, a certain kind of dependence on narratives that gives voice, priority, spirit and form to the latter, not the former.
But why does it have to be this way?
Considering the long poem: genre problems
Who says? Well, looking up for a moment and pulling down the Norton Anthology of Poetry from the shelf, there are, to put it mildly, a lot of models What, then? The history of feminist responses in poetry has been accumulating steadily over the last 30 years: Kathleen Fraser, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Harryette Mullen, Beverly Dahlen, Barbara Guest, Juliana Spahr, Jena Osman, Kristin Prevallet — these and many other writers whose artwork documents what can be done, what is being done.
The agenda is, at the very least, multi-focal. Not to do so constitutes an act bad faith by all of us who remain committed to the production of a humane, politically just social world in which to work, live, love.