10:04 AM - Friday, 22 August 2008
Pat O'Riley and Peter Cole kicked off yesterdays *land & language* panel with some very actionable contemplations about indigenous language extinction (10 yards), 'minoritized peoples' vs. 'minorities' (20 yards), English as the [colonial] crowbar of culture destruction (touchdown), mostly in the context of academic institutions. That is: shouldn't first-people/indigenous/native students be allowed to write thesis papers in their own tongue, rather than the Queen's English?
But then, like, here comes Juliana Spahr in full 'gladitorial' gear (whole different game) with a barrage of poetics history (all folks from Edwin Torres to Marianne Moore), talking about "altered and disruptive Englishes" and how they can knock the wobbly vase of *English* from it's power pedestal... and she lets us know who's doing it right now. Incredible.
I had a moment.... met a poet hero of mine. This poet didn't so much "recoil" (as in "retreat disdainfully") fromme, but really "re-coiled" (as in "coiled up to strike—with venom!"). I heard the rattle rattling and... ...
So by 11 PM, we're 7 hours deep in straight-up podium poetry readings (with the exception of Michael Davidson, whose sweet essaies were a real relief) and everyone has read for nearly an hour each. There's more Angelina Jolie, more Abu Ghraib stacks, more mutilated gay men, imperialism, post-colonial jolly slaps, even-tempered slide-shows, "resistance is nubile," "S.O.S... O... Same Old Same Old;" but maybe there's excitement too: a sense of *We*ness. As in: We're all poets here, so we like all of it, even (especially!) hearing (explicitly!) where lines break; we like references. and name dropping.
Essentially, the ball got rolling, the issues surfaced: we're talking about shanking the English language, we're talking about getting poetry out of books and into the "social space." Translation: "fuck grammar, here we come."
Highlight: polyvocalic poetic duet (intoned) by Louis Cabri and Rodrigo Toscano. Cabri reads slowly while Toscano (in white pants?!) spells out each word of the poem. They react to one another's spontaneous tonal shifts. Just gorgeous decentered poetic act—who's the poet here? where's the poem? who's the reader?