WHAT IS INFLUENCE?

MARCUS SLEASE POETRY, NOMADIC SURREALISM, the green monk

Super happy to have my poem “Feedback” in Poetry magazine. It is part of my manuscript The Green Monk, forthcoming from Boiler House Press in November 2018. It was composed while ingesting everything written by the great Lydia Davis. I can’t help wondering if some of her approach to writing leaked in there, but also other writers of course, there are always others, and also whatever was happening around me, the influences, how can we frame them. What is influence anyway? It accrues and accrues, but does it disappear? Who gets to decide who is influenced by whom? Readers feel some influence of maybe something else they have read or watched or experienced, the writer feels the influence of some writers. We need an audience to hold up the mirror. And also the artist is a mirror. We are all mirrors reflecting each other’s influences. Of course art, like everything, never occurs in a vacuum, it is interdependent. You can choose how you want to frame the influences. Forget about the isolated romantic genius. Originality is a collaging of influences.

It seems maybe there is red hot writing and there is cool writing, and then there is lukewarm. Or maybe a better way to think of it is some distance. This poem “Feedback” has some distance, via the style and framing of feedback, although the content has some fire, some lyricism. It was partly collaged from feedback on a friend’s slipstream novel in progress. William May and I met in Greensboro, North Carolina, during our days in the MFA programme, and have kept in touch, on and off, since 2005. His novel in progress is a nomadic surrealist journey, with many great mysteries. Without worrying about creating a poem I collaged some of the feedback I wrote for his novel, added some more layers, allowing for some chance operations, and called it feedback.

Isn’t feedback a kind of influence. I am also thinking of feedback in terms of sound.  That rumbling, whining, or whistling sound resulting from an amplified or broadcast signal (such as music or speech) that has been returned as input and retransmitted. As in a feedback loop. Our brains are a feedback loop. How do we get out of the loop. That wheel of samsara, as Buddhists call it. And what about the connection between the inside and outside. We have a brain. It goes and goes. And also there are various stimuli happening outside of us, all around us. What do we do with it? Does all it get in there, either into the so-called conscious or unconscious brain. The surrealists, inspired by the breakthroughs of Freud, wanted to tap into the unconcious and create a holistic person. It was an optimistic avant garde movement. How many layers does it take to get to the centre of the onion. I don’t know what is behind our layers, or our words.

Feedback” is out there in the world now, echoing, maybe reverberating with all the other sounds of poetry, and I hope some folks find some use with it. I hope the words are touchstones for the creation of a reader’s journey.

And yet, how much time do we have, really, to read words. It is my main activity, in terms of my art and life, and yet I get so tired of them. These words. They are never enough.

 

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The Corruption of the Poetry Foundation

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“Kenny Goldsmith was correct in saying that poetry is fifty years behind visual art. Both he and the poetry foundation are, in a certain respect, the vanguard of poetry as it enters a phase wherein its absolute nullity is realized and becomes immediately displaced into these forceful gestures of grandeur which are not too different within the symbolic order from a middle-aged crisis sports car purchase. Visual art assumed the cool smile of complicity decades ago. It’s about time that poetry caught up.” (Brooks Johnson)


So what are we, who care, to do?


How do we rise up?


What is poetry and how does it relate to revolution? Of the mind? Of the “spirit?” Of the socio-economic sphere? 


Check out this terrific interview with Brooks Johnson (by Linh Dinh):


poetry foundation and corruption

from Kent Johnson on the Poetry Foundation Chicago!!!

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I take the liberty of forwarding this post by Ian Keenan. It concerns John Barr, the President of the Poetry Foundation. It appeared today at Montevidayo blog. It might give some “context” for comprehending why the Poetry Foundation Board is so loose and fast about trying to arrest and send to prison young poets who peacefully protest in the PF’s $21.5 million sanctum.
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Some info on Barr:


1. “The Illinois State’s Attorney is looking into allegations of poor “fiscal practices, conflict of interest, nepotism and playing fast and loose with the rules of charitable organizations” (concerning the Poetry Foundation)


2. “Penny Barr, wife of John Barr, who admits she is “not versed in poetry,” was paid $23,000 by the Foundation for setting up a poetry contest.”


3. “The Poetry Foundation also plans to build a $25 million mansion in the Gold Coast with accommodations for visiting poets of its choice and a stage to host readings on. An ex-trustee accused the Foundation of acting like a “private club” and using Ruth Lilly’s money for “personal gratification.”
source: http://chicagopoetry.com/modul…


4. The company Barr founded, Dynergy, frequently likened in business columns to Enron, paid out a $3 million fine for accounting fraud (after Barr left as an executive) and a US Attorney said in a letter “We have become increasingly concerned that Dynegy’s `cooperation’ is more apparent than real.”


5. John Barr donated the maximum to Rudolph Giuliani in early 2007, a month after Giuliani declared his candidacy. Giuliani’s accomplishments as mayor of NYC including a smear campaign against contemporary artists and the Brooklyn Museum that displayed them, attempting to defund the institution. Soon after Barr’s donation, Giuliani named as his foreign policy adviser Norman Podhoretz right after he published the book World War III which advocated a global war, who in a previous life as a literary editor engaged in critical attacks against Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac.


6. Barr’s current company is lobbying foreign governments, mostly Spanish speaking countries in the hemisphere, to privatize their natural resources on behalf of his clients.


7. Robert Pinsky takes credit for selecting Barr for his position.