I was talking with Gina Myers last week about generations of American poets and how quickly everything has changed—that there’s a new group of emerging writers and magazines and reading series that suddenly seems to view “us” as influences and precursors rather than colleagues. This is weird for me, because 1) I never really felt like I was part of a “present” that could have been interpreted as a “past,” and 2) I still think of myself as “emerging.” While I think my feelings are similar to those of lots of other 30ish & 40ish poets, I also think there’s something interesting happening with schools and canons and currency and community that hasn’t happened before.
I was also talking to one of my faculty colleagues at Emory about “generations” of students—how the generation of this year’s students is so radically different than the generation of two years ago, and how that one was so different from the generation five years ago. This rapid turnover of attitudes, social stances, and psyches shouldn’t exactly come as a surprise—every time Apple or Google releases a new product, reality (i.e., cognition) changes. The iPhone 4S generation (people) will be succeeded sometime next year by the iPhone 5 generation, and the two groups’ approaches to the world will be different.
Against the railing we/Against the railing we
Are privy/Are pricey?/Are privy
To time in the for-ever form
Your loving me too long/Your loving me too long
And longingly Jackie pointed her Soul
Gun at my face and breaking habit
With my body I lifted myself from
My carbon copy cunt/My carbon copy cunt
Pulled myself apart
I come in triplicate/I come in triplicate
But delicate as lipstick left out on the dashboard
We caught ourselves feeling too much/
We caught ourselves feeling too much
Of our atmosphere forgotten along
With every oil spill this year
--Christie Ann Reynolds
A couple of weeks ago I read with Emily Kendal Frey at KGB and was introduced by my wonderful hosts—Matt Yeager and John Deming—partially in terms of my past—how Coconut (my poetry magazine and publishing company) had helped to set a new standard for online publishing, was very influential, etc. I was flattered to pieces but also (through no fault of my hosts!) a little scared—had I become a part of the past? Emily’s work is so smart and real and fresh. I like to think/hope that mine is too—the audience seemed to like my reading. & at the Stain series four nights later (Christie Ann, Steven Karl, and Erika Moya, hosts), people again seemed really happy with my poems.
But then, generations—as a means of aesthetic characterization—have been replaced, haven’t they? Currency is the choice to engage, and community—replacing canons and schools—is the lattice one engages. “Movement” still makes sense, but only in the context of community, rather than the hitherto reverse. I’m “present” to the degree that I choose to speak in the (poetic) language of soon-to-be 2012. I’m “emerging” to the degree that I contribute something new. “Influence” is no longer linear or vertical, but multi-vectored.
Our having had
Our having had this opportunity
to be together
is the beginning
of a union
is the beginning of a union
that will last
that will last for many lives
In any case, I like today; there's so much going on. Coconut Books is publishing nine new books over the next 18 months (including Christie Ann's first book, from which the above excerpt is taken); Coconut the magazine is coming back in 2012 with three new Editors (Gina, Kim Gek Lin Short, and Danielle Pafunda) and five Editorial Assistants (Jess Rowan, Lauren Schimming, Ken Jacobs, Hilary Cadigan, and Christeene Fraser); I'm currently in the midst of lots of readings and reading planning (both the ones I host and the ones I give); my own (2011) book Reveal is at the typesetters. This week in this space I'll share all of this stuff going on with me with you.
Thanks, David and Stacy, for this opportunity.