Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Metaphor of Czernowitz

A Group of Poets in Chicago is discussing the Poet Paul Celan.
As I Sit again with Celan in preparation I ruminate over the Metaphor of Czernowitz.
Czernowitz a city currently in the Ukraine was For many years in Poland and later Austria.
The City is a Metaphor for a lost world. A world of shared difference.
For hundreds of years the most creative places in the world were not Paris, Rome or London. In fact the most creative places were places of profound heterogeneity. These same cities today are mono cultures but before 1900 and into the first half of the last century they were the fonts of European culture.
Trieste, Vienna, Krakow, Prague, Czernowitz, Budapest, Istanbul, Smyrna, Odessa, Warsaw, Berlin. These were all diverse cities and places where Modernity was born. Celan was born into this world; the world of Rilke, Schiele, Freud, Dvorak. The essential element to this world was cosmopolitan heteroginety.
The Czernowitz of Celan's parents youth and Celan's early years was a place of mixing. German, Romanian, Ukrainian and Yiddish were all central to the city's life. Celan grew up in an environment where one had to be on guard and know about the "other" in many ways the way New York is today. You needed to be in dialogue with outsiders and this made for a rich cultural life.
The Metaphor of Czernowitz has been under attack now for 100 years. Ideas like Wilson's "self determination" Irredentism, Nationalism has created a world were we are expected to live with people like ourselves as if the whole world is to be homogenized. Today the the Metaphor of Czernowitz is being destroyed in Baghdad- and the world again will be the poorertrading a homogenized dead city for a diverse city.

A Body of Broken Bones

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Body of Broken Bones
Thomas Merton said in this essay written in 1955 that "it is dangerous to go into solitude only because you like being alone". What is true for Monks in Kentucky is also true for a poet's work.I would argue that it is intellectually weak for poetry to migrate to the margins simply because it is more comfortable to be around those who perfunctorily agree with them and refuse to test poetry against the world entire if the work does not stand up then create better work but do not run for the poetic hills.Is there anything more pathetic than a group of poets who all agree with one another but really deep down do not? Come on say it you have been at a reading and said this is garbage! but everyone is so NICE so that they can hopefully get there work published in the future.I find that I am often chided by friends because I am attracted to argument and debate about the artform that is as central to my being as my lungs or skin.It is not personal, it is business you can criticize a lousy book, even one by John Ashbery or Charles Bernstein and still believe that they are seminal and great. Poets however enjoy being sensitive and respectful in print and nasty in private or among friends so a bad book comes out and no one says what we are all thinking... this is garbage.I am not talking about petty meanness if you hate someone you have no right to attack them. I have been critical at times to poets and their work but mostly because the work frankly was weak and they got it published because they knew the editor or the editor was a friend or because they were working on intertia. The fact is however that allot of poetry gets published because the poet plays a political game.There are whole magazines devoted to this,It is true throughout poetry in America poets are writing for other poets and there is no interest in Poetry in dialogue with a greater world, Pound was writing history, Neruda was creating a poetic America and what do poets do today?So what I aim to do here as Irasible Poet is to critique poetry and readings honestly and let the chips fall where they may.
Posted by Raymond Bianchi at 7:34 AM 2 comments

The Irasible Poet
I have been Blogging at CollagePoetChicago.blogspot.com for many years and today that Blog is Dead. In this blog The Irasible Poet I will try to be frank, clear and critical and bring to bear on poetry a questioning mentality. Here is what I am for and what I am against;Here is What I am for1) I am for poets who read deeply2) I am for Poetry that challenges minds and structures3) I am for Poetry that is innovative, interesting and full of thought4) I am for a Global Poetry that reads in many languages5) I am for a Poetic Community that engages the worldHere is What I am against1) Poets who write for Fads2) Politically Correct Poets who are more like Accountants3) Poetry that is boring and gimmicky4) Poetry that only knows the MFA culture5) Poetry that is safe and without a position