vendredi 25 septembre 2009

A Few Publications and a Performative

A little updating. The most recent issue of Prick of the Spindle includes two of my poems and a host of edgy, poignant stuff. The poem that mentions Tunguska is a poem that I've revised substantially every two years for about six years. The other one is about the razed St. Thomas housing projects in New Orleans that is now a particularly useless Walmart.

Also, a poem of mine will be forthcoming in The Colorado Review, either this fall or in the spring.

My first essay publication, dealing with my favorite topic--professional wrestling, will appear in this fall's Louisville Review. It mentions suplexes in a swimming pool, the retirement of Ric Flair, and Shawn Michaels at a house show in Baton Rouge.

One interesting thing I've been reading about is the supposedly performative aspect of poetry, a proposition based in reaction to/against Austin and Searle's speech act theory. In Austin's posthumous work, How to Do Things with Words, he describes a number of performative utterances, i. e. words that enact what they say. Examples would include naming ("I hereby name this boat the Mademoiselle Fazie."), loving ("Duh I love you."), and betting ("I bet you that more people will attend a Cajun party than a party in the USA."). One notable act Austin puts aside is poetry. If an apparent speech act arrives in a poem, you can bet that Austin would consider it "false." Searle prefers to call it "pretend." While speech act theory is actually as old as the desert fathers, if not older, Austin's presentation had its value, namely in a type of codifying of the phenomenon and an introduction of the topic to nonCatholic audiences. The ommission of poetry by him and subsequently by Searle, though, is shortsighted.

I propose that poetry itself be considered a type of speech act, albeit one that takes a bit more preparation than either christening or gambling. One thing that it does not need more of is convention. Speech acts are only felicitous or successful, as Austin tells us, when done according to certain socially defined conventions. Likewise, poetry does not operate well too far from conventions, especially if one considers that language is a huge set of historically determined conventions.

What poetry does not do is pretend. As my professor for my Theory of the Lyric course, Jonathan Culler, asks, what would Keats be pretending to do when he addresses the wind in "Ode to the Western Wind?" Although I'm not sure what he is really doing, let alone pretending to do, I can wager a guess. In the act of his poem (whether the reading or presentation of it, and I err on the side of reading here), the poem enacts its own creation, specifically the creation of a world where it is appropriate to apostrophize the wind or exist in surreality or experience the sublime. This might stretch the definition of poetry a bit, but why not?

OK, enough poetics for today. Maybe tomorrow you will get rap.

dimanche 20 septembre 2009

Get Me Out of this Monastery

One interesting thing I can do now that I am in grad school: The other night I had an inconsequential dream which was basically a mirror of a waking wish fantasy. I woke immediately afterwards and told myself, well that's a pretty straightforward dream, wish fulfillment in plain terms and images. And then I reminded myself that that was not what Freud what want me to think! So I re-evaluated my dream in the span of a minute or so, searching for spatial analogies, linguistic slips, condensation, displacement. Afterwards, I completely reinterpreted my dream, not only problematizing the initial wish fantasy but also arriving at a completely unrelated tension. Satisfied with myself, I fell back asleep and forget everything.

vendredi 12 juin 2009

Return, return

Alright, so now it is time to get a summer schedule started. I begin intern/teaching not this Monday but next. It will be The Moviegoer not No Place, Louisiana due to difficulties locating enough copies. I think a reissued edition will come out next year, which you can buy then. It is really an amazing, troubling, and quiet novel. Luckily, so is The Moviegoer, and may be more relevant to the course title ("Natives and Strangers") due to the strangeness of being a native.

My wrestling essay will make it into the pages of The Louisville Review this fall under the title "The Thrill of Choreographed Violence." Turns out it wasn't as autoportraity as I thought and is now more streamlined thanks to the wonderful guest creative nonfiction editor there. Linda and I got the chance to watch the Extreme Rules PPV live in New Orleans. If there was any doubt in my mind that wrestling is a perfect entertainment form, I believe it now.

This blog is rather aimless, but after visiting Louisiana this last week, I've finally decided what I want to do, what I want to really do. Linda and I are going to snag some PhDs if we can at Cornell and return to the bayou. There, we will create opportunity, not only for us, but for people in Barataria who right now can basically chose between offshore, the shrimpboat, or moving. And so it will be a private institution. Linda will run a school (I mean K-12, private, full imaginative education curriculum), and I'm going to run a cultural center. This will encompass and make possible a lot of my father's ambition (he wants a genealogical/Chauvin culture/Cajun industrial museum on Bayou Petit Caillou) in addition to mine. Hopefully one day it will be a think tank style institution that can do everything from granting postdoctoral ethnology fellowships to summer internships to coastal erosion and agricultural sustainability awareness to educating tourists and locals alike on the varieties of life in Southern Louisiana. In essence, if anything else, you'll see that here.

I'm back in Ithaca, but I realize that my heart's in Chauvin. And it will always be there.

mercredi 6 mai 2009

Reviewing Reviews

There is a great (overall, some of the responses are bunk) round table discussion over at MayDay magazine which discusses the phenomenon of Jason Guriel's exhortation to write negative reviews of poetry books. Personally, I think Guriel is a master of cheap shots and sensationalism, but his opinion may stem from a passion for literature and the promotion of great stuff (at the denunciation of the shit). It may not. The larger issue is that reviewers of poetry books are poets. And so due to an assortment of reasons (from thinking that the best way to criticize an awful book of poetry is ignore it and promote stuff you're enthusiastic about, to not wanting to insult people you will invariably run into, have taught you, or are otherwise important in our small, nervous community), most reviews of poetry are positive and blurbesque.

In my life, I have no problem mixing the poet and the scholar (though these roles remain compartmentalized for the most part). But being a poet and critic is something I want to avoid as much as possible. And emotionally, if I have to do a review, I'd rather be excited about something good or exploratory in what the poems do regardless of my tastes (for instance, when writing my sole published book review, which was of Circadian by Joanna Klink, I never lauded nor insulted the work: the careful reading I did, articulating the themes or whatever, was laurel enough, I thought). In other fields, artists criticizing other artists constitutes a "diss" and is always personal.

This leads me to my second point, which I will wait until next time to share: my newfound appreciation of pop culture, specifically hip hop. I will tell you that I am starting a project writing in a hip hop voice, the first poem of which is titled, "Elegy to the Saint Thomas Projects."

dimanche 19 avril 2009

Beginning again and again

First, I would like to apologize. I have been away, both from writing and reading blogs. The demands of the MFA program and my own sanity have definitely taken their tole on the exhilaration of instantaneous publication. But here I am, for how long who knows!

To find the ruination in these blogposts will definitely be more esoteric work than before, as my main research interests are now eroticism, Cajana, and professional wrestling. Welcome to grad school, thank you for making my interests as schizophrenic as a Facebook account.

Right now, I am in the midst of working on portrayals of mystical jouissance and female sexual experience in the films of David Lynch and Peter Greenaway. So yes, I have come around to not only reading but kind of liking Lacan. You may get some psychobabble out of me now. And my writing may no longer make sense.

As for professional wrestling, I am preparing an essay called "Autoportrait with Choreographed Violence," hopefully for publication soon. I am quickly becoming a wrestling historian and have even turned the Ivy League establishment on to chair shots, DDTs, color commentary, and, especially, cutting promos. If I keep this blog up, it may be observations working out my feelings and connections to "sports entertainment."

I begin teaching courses at Cornell in June. The summer deal is a course about Natives and Strangers (a Freshmen writing seminar). I think I somehow conned the course leader into letting me teach my portion (it is a complicated learning to teach but still teaching internship of sorts) on Cajun literature. So if I can find a bulk supply of the amazing but out-of-print No Place, Louisiana, I'll be teach Martin Pousson. In the fall, I teach Mystery in the Story, which I will be able to design to include neo-noir films, Thomas Pynchon, Umberto Eco, Slavoj Žižek, and horror fiction. Needless to say, I am pretty much happy with this assignment.

Ithaca's cutting out of winter finally. I've been writing decently, I think. So there's that as well. Next time I post, it will be a post of some substance. And probably about the squared circle.

samedi 17 janvier 2009

Welcome (back) to the now

Ok, I've been totally lame and not updated since September. I could say I was busy, which is true. But lazy is probably more accurate.

I just finished my final project for my City in Ruins course, which was a 60 page chapbook of poems, lyric essays, and photographs about ruins. The photos where taken by Linda and me (and one by my dad) of ruins in Louisiana both flood related and not. The poems were sort of persona/erotic/ruin poems, which can be said about all my work, probably.

This does not mean that I'll quit rambling about ruination. But I can probably throw a few non-academic things around, occasionally.

Semester starts this week and will be taking Erotics of Visuality, which is about portrayals of desire and sex in film, I guess. Workshop and poetry reading. Etc.

Because I've been such an asshole, I leave you with a photo from my project:

This was taken in Dulac, Louisiana. It is an abandoned boat filled with marsh grass.