Ron Silliman is afraid of getting into trouble for saying it, but he done said it anyhow.
He sees some interesting parallels between the new poetry today and the poetry that was new in the 1950’s. In addition to those parallels, he is happy to see that there are actually different approaches to new modes of poetry, for a change.
I was thinking about the debate, to call it that, between flarf & conceptual writing, and specifically thinking that such a debate was in many respects the healthiest single phenomenon I’ve seen regarding poetry in several decades, because it meant that there were two contending (contesting) approaches to the new, and that you can actually feel the discourse getting off the dime finally of what to do after langpo and just doing it. And that feels so long overdue, frankly. What we are seeing is the resurrection of some very basic tendencies active within poetry for over half a century, seeing them coalescing once again into shapely coalitions we can actually name.
Flarf is Projective Verse.
Conceptual Poetry is the New York School.
So where are the new Beats? Is that what slam or def jam poetics are about? I doubt it, actually, given just how completely the key early Beats were into form & literary history, but the whole valorization of the street poet, especially by the numbskulls who confuse Bukowski for a beat, has a deeply anti-intellectual strain one finds at a lot of slams.
Silliman admits, “such an analogy as this does a lot of violence to all those named”. Such is the case when classifying and comparing things. But if he’s right, if the new poetry now is so similar to the new poetry then, then you’ll find what’s really new by this comparison (new minus old equals really new).
Maybe he’s on to something here.