Tuesday, August 01, 2006

addenda and

In my last post, I should have pointed out some more notable exceptions, in the queer community, to one of the norms described there. The queer punk scene in particular features some of the most wide-ranging activism (and aesthetic open-mindedness) I've come across anywhere. The hard work, good cheer and generosity one often finds in abundance among young anarchists is rare and wonderful.

A songwriter who exemplifies the best in queer political music is Scott Free, lynchpin of the Chicago queer folk scene, who's not a young anarchist and is only sometimes a punk rocker. Last year's They Call Me Mr. Free covers more ground than just about any album of political music I've heard in years, from high school gaybashing to the Iraq war to racial profiling and the corrupt Chicago courts to the insult of "disco divas singing at PrideFest," and more, all with subtlety, thought, detail, meticulous melodic writing, better hiphop than hiphop, and heavier rock than heavy rock.


If you're interested in more Fringe festival news, D.R. Israel blurbs the DC Fringe in a recent post.


The hubbub started by Ron Silliman's recent post on Gabriel Gudding, which I haven't been following very carefully, brings up some issues that matter to me (Silliman loves those figures who like to generate controversy, doesn't he? Controversy by proxy?). I surely shouldn't have taken the snide little swipe at Gudding I allowed myself in Ian's comments box today, since I don't know Gudding, have barely read his writing, and haven't even gone through the controversial eight-year-old essay yet. For all I know, he is indeed a genuine sweetheart, not a new age narcissist, and a smart writer. Or not; I'm no authority. Ian's post does point to something that's concerned me since I started reading poets' blogs, though: the "anxiety of influence" among younger poets doing work that's at least broadly interesting in the U.S. (I should point out that using a phrase of Harold Bloom's here causes me some mild nausea).

The phenomenon in brief:
Poet fears being called derivative, especially where hir immediate poetic predecessors are concerned. Poet goes around describing other peoples' writing in terms of those predecessors, and talking about how "old" things are. Criticisms go back and forth. Often the anxious poet writes in a style that could also be called derivative--it's just that it's derived from styles that aren't currently part of the nexus of anxiety. This is probably a disease of "scenes," a symptom of jockeying for social status... or the result of quick and careless reading habits.


The Minnesota Fringe festival is great; I've seen almost nothing that's dreadful, and much that's at least good, some amazing. Our own show is getting great responses, which surprises the hell out of me. People in Minneapolis apparently want to see weird art. Nice city, too. More detailed reports to follow.


  • At August 7, 2006 at 9:51 PM, Blogger david raphael israel said…


    this anxiety-of-influence stuff is a curiousity, no doubt. (I can imagine what you describe, though not [I think thankfully] having observed it en masse.)

    But so much of the poetry that seems interesting to me feels to be premised (and perhaps this is obvious or goes w/o saying -- but here's saying it) on an opposite affective trait or condition:

    happiness of influence, ease of influence, delight of influence.

    If one had leisure, one could go back to Bloom, think about the Freudian underpinnings, and spin out a counter-paradigm. This quick note sketches the concept in brief. The word influence, however, may not have either a wide enough, or a precise enough, field; or, there may be a range of relationship-words between antecedent and practitioner: recollection, allusion, homage, influence, as well as various forms of countering or opposition or "bouncing off of" (etc.) that are withal un-anxious. ;-)

    just some thoughts

    btw thanks for the DC fringe pointer.



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