Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Why Bad People Hate Obama

On Sunday Traudi and I went to see my grandmother who is 95 at her nursing home. When we came out someone had written over my Obama 08 sticker on my car "Stupid Nigger". This was quite a shock because even in Republican DuPage county where my Grandmother's facility is located Illinois is mostly for Obama. The vandalism and its intent to shock really effected me and it caused me to pause.

I have heard all kinds of vitriol about President Obama and not just from the Fox News crowd. The reality is that an entire segment of our population hates President Obama for what he stands for and his race is just added wood on that fire.

There is a whole social class of people who really believe that they have worked hard and that they dont owe anything to anyone. My cousin Gregory has this mindset as does my Aunt Bonnie and Uncle Chuck. They believe that what Obama is doing is "socialism" because he wants a modicum of real equality in our society. What these people want to do is eat at the trough and fill their bellies while the nation declines.

Now, I have not been totally pleased with President Obama. The lack of investigations of the Bush administration really bothers me. George Bush and Dick Cheney should be in jail right now for their crimes. I am also not happy with his stance on torture and labor unions he needs to do more. But he is trying. He has put forth a moral argument that everyone in America deserves health care, something that is a right in most rich countries. The Right is frothing at the mouth and we his supporters are not out there for his plan enough. The truth is if you really want to reduce healthcare then it needs to be Single Payer but lets give him a chance.

In the end there is a whole population of White middle and upper middle class people who hate what President Obama stands for and calling him "Stupid Nigger" makes them feel good I guess? But to see such hatred played out on my car was a shock- but it has not changed my opinion.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Edgy Post Avant Poetry? You Gotta Know Where the Edge is to be Edgy

Adam Fieled, on his blog has really opened an issue I think is essential for poetry as an art form today. Can "post avant, experimental, Post Language, Flarf, Conceptualist" poetry be edgy?

In Kenneth Rexroth's Autobiographical Novel he shares with us his life . Rexroth experiences everything the IWW, the Bughouse Square Socialists, The Beats, Helping Japanese Internees, Thomas Merton's Trappists, SF Rennaissance poets, Various painters, and more. Rexroth is cutting edge because he is living on the edge without comfort. The edge is a place where he lived. The writing did not need much for that life to come out and become central to the work.

The kind of diverse formation that Rexroth had also informed other writers like Witold Gombrowitz the great Polish diarist. He lived in poverty and exile but who was committed to the work and to pushing boundaries. It did not matter to Gombrowitz that he was poor, alone and far from home he lived on the edge and it filled his work.
The reason contemporary so much of Post Avant writing is not edgy is that poets do not know where the edge is located. Poets writing today lived lives of comfort on a set formative track that I like to call the Poetry Industrial Complex.
Poets go to grad school where they make connections and they never have even seen the edge much less lived it. They write clever blogs and they are published by their friends who also were formed by the Poetry Industrial Complex. Most of these poets live very comfortable lives and anything edgy they write is mostly artifice. How could the cutting edge come from that formation? Out of the Poetry Industrial Complex and its formation some interesting Conceptual Poetry and Flarf have developed but the work is hardly edgy.
Poets who write edgy work are pushed to the margins by those formed by the Poetic Industrial Complex. he poets of the Poetry Industrial Complex prefer to exist within their sealed Tupperware world where they only breathe their own air. This air does not allow for truly edgy poetry.
All is not lost however there are many poets writing Post Avant who are edgy- they just are not as well known or many times in New York...
Here are some suggestions for edgy work ...
  • In Chicago there is a slam poet Kevin Coval whose work has the "slam" aesthetic but is also challenging and you can feel edgy truth in the writing.

  • Another is Mark Nowak whose work is both edgy and well done and actually working class which is a place most Post Avant poets have only read about in books.

  • Chicago poet (But now in Poland) Mark Tardi has all the Poetry Industrial Complex bonafides but he is a poet of hard edges without sentiment.
  • Jesse Seldess poetry is filled with the disturbing world of for example Alzheimers yet his work is not read widely yet.
  • A couple of well formed edgy poets are Harryette Mullins and Ed Roberson's whose work is well read. Maybe someone ought to send a pallet of their books to President Obama so when he picks a poet to write a poem for the inauguration he gets something stomach able.

  • Garin Cycholl whose geographic/historical poetry weds a poetry of place with a true avant garde sense in ways that have not been seen since Charles Olson's Maximus is very edgy.

  • Jen Hofer has all the Poetry Industrial Complex formation but none of the artifice pushes boundaries from a life lived on the edge. She is also a great bridge to Latin American writing.
  • Speaking of poets on the edge there are so many global poets whose work is filled with edginess- Virna Teixiera, Sergio Medeiros, and Maria Esther Maciel in Brazil, Giovanna Frene and Marco Giovenale in Italy, Haydar Ergodian in Turkey, Dunia Mikhail in Iraq, Laura Solorzano, in Mexico and many others.

Their books are all available... So go buy them and break the tupperware seal of your mind.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The End of Tiger's Stadium-The End of General Motors

When my family immigrated to America from Italy they went to three places- Newark, NJ, Chicago, IL and Detroit, Michigan. The result of these movements were that we were divided in our Baseball loyalties. Some of us loved the Dodgers (Then Mets), Yankees, Tigers or White Sox.
So these teams were always real to me because of family get togethers. We liked to rib each other and rarely were my White Sox on top and so I had to sit and listen to the others. My Detroit relatives always talked about the Tigers. Willie Horton, Al Kaline, Sparky Anderson, Alan Trammell and all the rest. Hell they even had Denny Mc Clain who was a South Sider but played in Detroit. Detroit was rough when I was a kid. Nothing like Chicago or New York which still pulsed. But there was something about the Tigers- that I hated and still do to this day.
Today, Tigers Stadium, at the corner of Michigan and Trumbull is being torn down. Along with her sisters Comiskey Park, Cleveland Memorial Stadium, Forbes Field, and Ebbets Field she represented something that has been lost amid our iPods and blogs- Depth. Some people want to put Wrigley and Fenway in that category but they have always been and remain parks for the Gentry.
There was a time in America when solid people made solid things. These were the kind of people who filled Tigers Stadium, Comiskey Park and the rest. They were not corporate and they were not office workers and this made their collective souls different from other places. The end of Tigers Stadium is the last link from that America to ours and it is sad to think that it moves into history.
America has become like Phoenix- everything is new and clean and antiseptic. You are more apt to find an office with a Zen Fountain then you are to find a person who is the member of an industrial union or works with his or her hands. As we watch Tigers Stadium fall to the wrecker's ball we look at General Motors and by analogy an America that is gone forever.
The reason that no one cares about General Motors dieing is because so few of us know anyone who make things.
General Motors, Tigers Stadium demolished....

Literary Influence in Chicago?

It was a pleasure to be chosen by New City Chicago as one of the 50 most influential literary figures in Chicago and hell to be on a list with Oprah is always good. Cracked Slab Books has tried over the past three years to publish poets we care about and do something for our local community. Chicago gets short shrift in America's literary scene mostly because all the money is in New York and at Universities while in Chicago we have no money for literary pursuits (excluding the Poetry Foundation).