Wednesday, November 01, 2006

John Barr at AWP

This year's AWP in Atlanta Brings You Two Chances to Hear & See John Barr, Poetry Crusader

Thursday- March 1, 2007
9:00 a.m.-10:15 a.m.

R111. Taking Measures: Poetry and the Media. (Stephen Young, John Barr, Jeffrey Brown, Nancy Pearl, Anne Halsey) The Poetry Foundation has launched several initiatives in the last year designed to raise poetry’s profile in our culture. The latest of these is the Poetry Institute, a new forum for poets, scholars, publishers, and media experts to explore fresh ideas about poetry. Poetry’s audience was the Institute’s inaugural topic. This panel will report on the first Institute and consider poetry outreach from diverse perspectives, as well as some of the philosophical objections to it and its many practical frustrations.

OK, so what is The Poetry Foundation going to think is a “fresh idea”? Thinking about how reactionary, reductive, and unspoiled by facts John Barr’s recent comments on the state of the art have been, one can only cross one’s fingers and pray the earth swallows him up. Give Persephone some company.

And then, as if all those “fresh ideas” aren’t enough for you, you have another chance to hear the musings of John Barr:

Saturday- March 3, 2007
4:30 p.m.-6:15 p.m.

S180. The Importance of Being Wrong: American Poetry in the Coming Century. (John Barr ) The turn of the last two centuries has marked the emergence of a new kind of writing. Will the 21st century be so lucky? American poetry is ready for something new, not only because of the calendar, but because contemporary poets have too long been writing in the rain shadow thrown by Modernism. A new poetry will be wrong in the eyes of that which it displaces, but recognizing and championing it is paramount. The new era of poetry will spring not from further innovation of form, but from an evolution of sensibility based on lived experience.

Where does one start? This sounds like it’s going to be a rehash of this, from Poetry Magazine:

Which I talked about here:

And which AWP’s very own D. W. Fenza responded to here:

Anyway, what else is there to say about this? "[A]n evolution of sensibility based on lived experience"? "[N]ot from further innovation of form"? Perhaps some more trite reductions of Modernism? Some more laughable generalizations of contemporary poetry (which is the same problem Dana Gioia faced after "Can Poetry Matter?", namely, if what you're saying is true, and you've nailed the problem, why is it that the poets and poetry you put forth as positive examples are not wildly popular, as you suggest they should/could be?) . . .

Anyway, this all sounds to me just like further ammunition for arguments like that of Steve Evans:

So anyway, please come to Atlanta, and don't forget to bring tomatoes.


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