Monday, August 13, 2007

Bill Knott, "the english straine"

Because you don't want the fifth can in your sixpack of Coke to have Pepsi in it, do you—

And you don't want page 42 in your Michael Palmer poetry book to suddenly out of nowhere (stop him!) he's trying to write a Sharon Olds-type autobio Confessional poem with a four stress line, you don't want that do you.

You want consistency in the poets you buy, just like the softdrink of your choice; you want a book with the name Palmer on it to contain the flavor of poem you paid for....

You want what you bought. You want the brandname poet, not the generic.

You want the Real Thing, Coke after Coke, poem after poem. That's capitalism, and you don't want it any other way.

This happens to be what I'm "interested in" right now as I put together a book manuscript -- what "fits," what doesn't.

How to free my Pessoan heteronym (and anagram) Clare Holden, so she can publish her own book, with all those other weird, discomfiting, non-fitting poems.

A foolish consistency? Hobgoblin of little minds?

Survival of the fittest groceries again, perhaps, but Rachel has so little use for Clare these days, and aesthetics has its own fierce hegemony.

2 comments:

Catherine said...

Since I noticed that the collections coming out of Iowa, mostly, starting I guess about 15 years ago? were insanely unified, as are most project mss., I've been wondering about this. Oh, how I struggle to break one sort of writing which seems to me exactly like the rest of mine according to theme, or format... Bill Knott, indeed. We need more places for the stray hairs.

Rachel Loden said...

Yes! Or we need more Pessoan heteronyms, and maybe the right to bundle identities without being accused of inconsistency.

"Do I contradict myself?" Etc. etc.