it puzzles her a little

You can rest assured that if your poems aren't very readable, most people won't read them. Other professionals will, but that will only earn you respect of other professionals. Also young ambitious people will. But by the time they all get to loving those works, you'll have moved on to a more accessible place, and then they'll hate you and put you down for being reactionary.

It used to be that Bernadette Mayer and Clark Coolidge were the great avant-garde poets of America. Now they're not so avant-garde anymore, and they're just these mainstream poets - which is a very nice thing to be... but it's disappointing. Some friends of mine are preparing to blacklist Bernadette from the ranks of the avant-garde because her poems can be read now. It upsets my friends who have to blacklist Bernadette because they like her, and they like her earlier works. It doesn't upset Bernadette, but it puzzles her a little.

- Ted Berrigan, from a workshop he conducted in 1978, as found in Civil Disobediences: Poetics and Politics in Action.

1 comment:

daniela elza said...

oh my, i have been sending to this journal (whose name i will not mention) that specifically says in its submission guidelines they are looking for avant-garde poetry.
if i had known that means the poems aren't very readable, i would never have sent them anything.

who defines?
who opines?
who confines?

I suggest that for a change avant-garde could mean accessible, and readable:-)

it puzzles me a little too. . .