May 4, 2012
This from the Poetry Foundation: "An influential figure in contemporary poetics, Ron Silliman became associated with the West Coast literary movement known as “Language poetry” in the 1960s and ‘70s. He edited In the American Tree (1986), which remains the primary Language poetry anthology, as well as penned one of the movement’s defining critical texts, The New Sentence (1987). Silliman’s prolific publishing career includes over thirty books of poetry, critical work, collaborations and anthologies. He has long championed experimental or “post-avant” poetics, most recently through Silliman’s Blog, a weblog he started in 2002."
I met with Ron at the Ottawa International Airport to talk about Language poetry. Among other things we discuss the 'Bardic I"; diagnosis of the self; examining viewpoint; the concept of clarity in writing; literary effects; passion through form; Raid 'killing bugs dead'; manipulation of the reader; the artificiality of literary devices and pre-set responses. Louis Zukofsky; received rather than earned wisdom. Shakespeare as a great font of creative invention. Bing Crosby as the Jimi Hendricks of the microphone. Steve Roggenback. The 'God help us' response. Unquestioned ideology. Ambiguity. Self check-out lanes. Common denominators. Helen Vendler's irrelevancy. Poets' dishonest criticism. And the importance of reading series.
Photo credit: Jeff Hurwitz