Saturday, November 13, 2010


reading this post by u.k. based aussie poet laurie duggan reminds me a bit of my own education in poetry. or mis-education. or whatever. i made my discoveries pre-internet padding thru the stacks of libraries where one discovery dove-tailed into another. an education like that has many disadvantages including reading a lot of poetry that might block or hold you back in your development. but i loved it. i think i learned from everything and everyone i read. i recall some letters to the editor published in the newspaper american poetry review by john yau where yau mentions nyc poet jim brodey as both being homeless and suffering from aids. i had to find out who brodey was tout suite. in short, i had no head honcho who could guide me in my practices of reading and writing. i would've benefited from such a honcho, greatly. but by the time i got into university i was past the need for a guiding light and was well on my way to becoming a poet. in my defence, i knew i was to become a poet and even had the idea, from past examples as varied as dylan thomas and arthur rimbaud, that one didn't even need to finish high school to become a writer. i think my eclectic reading served me well. i developed a voracious curiosity and i think i can, even now, read the writings of say post-avant and formal poetries without irony and without contradiction. that means i also developed a distaste for canons and canon-makers, even if i agreed with the makers. later i developed a hatred for the categories of 'minor' and 'major' writers. in the end, who cares. what matters most to me is the high i get from poetry. i still get high from poetry. i don't care who might be declared the honcho or no.


At 10:57 AM, Blogger John B-R said...

Richard, I read Duggan's post with interst, and your as well. I was guided by an older writer/publisher thru the Pound/Olson vector as well. It took me a while to realize that any one vector could easily foreclose others if one weren't careful. So I too developed a tad bit of voraciousness ... I do think people are a bi on "langpo", tho, and have confused the politics and the poems, meaning that if you set aside the assholery of those that want to dictate to others, there's some good "langpo" work out there ...

As for honchos, honchos are for kids. "But you and I we've been thru that, and that is not our fate ..."
Or, as another guy said, "only don't know."

Which sounds like good advice to me.

I think I owe you have a sonnet. Is that correct?

At 5:42 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

you are correct, sir! actually half a sonnet, please.

absolutely agreed re langpo. i went thru a bit of a rebellious phase and didn't much care for it. but that rebellion against avant hegemonies was soon evaporated when i found an anthology edited by douglas messerli that contained the work of susan howe, lyn hejinian, silliman and if i recall correctly tom beckett. i'm pretty sure it was in that anthology that i read beckett's poems for the first time. you know, i can't remember the name of the book, but i do remember it was thick with a white dust-cover and had an excellent introduction. i think when i found that book, and i must've been i dunno 25 or so, that poetry is a universe that contains, in the mortal words of whitman, multitudes. and it was all for me to read, write and experiment.

about the same time i found paul hoover's anthology, POST MODERN AMERICAN POETRY, and that book rocked my world. it was all there, bukowski and mac low, and the field got even wider. i love that book and worn out the library's copy. i had to buy my own.

At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Vaguely Quotable said...

Curiosity and a willful eclecticism have certainly guided my reading. Blake and Dickinson in my teens. The Russian Futurists and French Symbolists a little later and then, then...well thankfully we can travel down poetry's divergent paths at once. Ryan

At 10:56 PM, Blogger richard lopez said...

yes, ryan, for me it was the french like verlaine and rimbaud, esp. rimbaud in my late teens. a little later whitman and dickinson. then of course i discovered other writers like genet and samuel beckett and faulkner about the same time. and also poets that i still love and live by their example, catullus and constantine cavafy. by the time i was in my early 20s i was recovering from a very serious mental breakdown and began reading post-war eastern european poets. it's all a continuum and i'm still making discoveries and learning from my reading and now with the net my discoveries include quite a lot of poetries from australia, new zealand, canada, sweden and on and on and on. the road not taken is silly. i'll try to travel them all.


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