Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Alice Notley re: Joanne Kyger...it's interesting when Notley says each poet's poetry should be its own world. It's difficult to not compare poets, but I think the tendency to do so is counterproductive to an astute evaluation of a writer's work. The photo is Kyger in Kyoto, Japan, I think Allen Ginsberg took it.

"Being known as a glorious and fascinating talker can obscure the value of your work, at least during your lifetime. I certainly hope to have shown that Kyger's work lives up to her conversation, which I also know something about. Kyger's influence on my own practice has been considerable -- and on many other women -- she's one of the women who's shown me how to speak as myself, to be intelligent in the way I wish and am, rather than suiting the requirements of established intellectuality. Universities are frightfully conservative because they love their traditions and especially their language; idiomatic truth can't get born there, or anything that has to be new, not just wants to be.
     Kyger was recently omitted from Postmodern American Poetry: A Norton Anthology (a very useful book except for the omissions any anthology's prone to). One must assume this is at least partly because she's stayed away from the centers of Poetry's meager power; to wield power would be counter to the logic and even the technique of her poetry, would be for her a spiritually poor choice. But not calling attention to herself, she isn't always included. As her books show, her daily life involves, besides poetry, domestic chores, community service, local jobs in stores, frequent teaching at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, extensive trips to Mexico, and poetry reading trips to the East Coast. This is not at all an insular existence, but it somehow hasn't brought her the notice she deserves. A certain poetry isn't always fashionable. However, each poet's poetry is, or should be, its own world; you cross borders, you get to know it, you read it being there, not bringing a lot of baggage from outside it, and it works. Poetry's supposed to be lived in not assessed. . ."

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