Statement on Poetics for the New Poetics Colloquium

 

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Charles Bernstein

Charles Bernstein

BEING A STATEMENT ON POETICS FOR THE NEW POETICS COLLOQUIUM OF THE KOOTENAY SCHOOL OF WRITING, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, AUGUST 1985

I've never been one for intellectualizing. Too much

talk, never enough action. Hiding behind the halls of theories

writ to obligate, bedazzle, and torment, it is rather

for us to tantalize with the promise, however false, of speedy

access and explanatory compensation. A poem should not

be but become. And those who so disgrace their

pennants, however and whomever so deafened, shall tar

in the fires of riotous inspiration and bare the

mark of infancy on their all too collectivist breasts. Terrorism

in the defense of free enterprise is no vice; violence

in the pursuit of justice is no virgin. This is

what distinguishes American and Canadian verse - a topic

we can ill afford to gloss over at this

crucial juncture in our binational course. I

did not steal the pears. Indeed, the problem

is not the bathwater but the baby. I want

a poem as real as an Orange Julius. But

let us put aside rhetoric and speak as from one

heart to another words that will soothe

and illuminate. It is no longer 1978, nor for

that matter 1982. The new fades like the shine

on your brown wingtip shoes: should you simply

buff or put down a coat of polish first? Maybe the shoes

themselves need to be replaced. The shoes themselves: this is the

inscrutable object of our project. Surely everything

that occurs in time is a document of that

time. Rev. Brown brings this point home when he

relates the discomfort of some of his congregation

that formulations of a half- or quarter-, much less

full-decade ago are no longer current to today's

situation. The present is always insatiable because

it never exists. On the other hand, the past

is always outmoded and the future elides. Light

travels slowly for the inpatient humanoid.

Half the world thinks the night will never end

while the other half sweats under the yoke of unrelenting

brightness. It's time to take our hats off

and settle in. The kettle's on the stovetop, the

centuries are stacked, like books, upon the shelf.

Bunt, then buzz.

 

from: Bernstein, Charles. Rough Trades. Los Angeles: Sun and Moon Press, 1991. (pp.29-30)


Saturday, November 01, 2014
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