Friday, May 6, 2011

Is Meta-Narrative Finally Too Aware of Itself?

In reflection of a poem I’ve written lately called, “The Daughter’s of Aphrodite’s Moonshine Whiskey Dirge,” I wrote to another poet, a friend of mine who will give me an honest and fair critique, the following:

Dearest poetry friend,

So, I've been wanting to write a prose poem for a long while now, probably since 2008. I think the first and only one I wrote was by accident, something called On That Which Cannot Be Said, in my thesis, which only you, Bildo, could point out to me in class (and everyone else) that it should be read as a poem. Then I got a hard-on for Baudelaire.

This is a rather ambitious piece, which makes my cock go grandpa limp. Took me three days to write it. But I am looking for criticism. I'm afraid to say too much about it and what it's supposed to be or do, to get an honest critique, but at the same time don't want it misinterpreted. So, I'll just say that's it's totally serious and supposed to make fun of itself (or its themes) at the same time and leave the rest to you.

The only prose poetry I've really read is Flowers of Evil from 3 years ago. I don't know what I'm doing.

Jaques-trude, de garge!
(Thank you!)

-Buck Hennesy Fisher, the second.

Here’s a piece of the poem: “Think not! That my tale’s unaware of this rhyming self-aware style, my ancient yarn reeks of postmodern duplicity and postmortem distortions. Because even such awareness is beyond that which is needed like everything beyond everything, beyond everything beyond, papal bulls or dogma, demurely splattered on halls colored day-glo in an opaque darkness, one for amusement, the other for art, but neither for art’s own sake in the age of amusement.” 

I was thinking of David Eggers and Dave Wallace specifically while writing this poem. I've wanted to write magical realism stuff for a while now, ever since an English lit. friend of mine talked about the "reign of realism" in literature and the possible rise of "fabulation". Ironically, it's easier to pull off fabulation in poetry than in fiction, but you have to be careful to avoid falling into fantasy writing, which is another thing I worried about--trying to write a prose narrative poem with super-pretentious literary characters or names with magical elements that were still grounded enough to keep a reader interested.

Without sharing the entire poem, I think it's really difficult to try to write anything that attempts to be serious in our day without stepping back from what you're writing to reflect, "Jesus, this shit is really pretentious and stupid because of how serious or literary it's trying to be," but then you still have to go with it just to make it fun. In a way, I think that, unfortunately, in our post-moderny,  hyper-self-awareness age, you almost have to do this now. It's an unwritten law of literature (or even the movies and reality TV and the internet) to say, "I'm aware of what this is" so that everything now is a hyper- or meta-narrative.  (Praise be to Charlie Sheen.)

For my creative nonfiction stuff, this works out great for me (and Augusten Burroughs, David Shields, Joaquin Phoenix, David Sedaris and Charlie Sheen, again). But I think it hurts poetry now even more than say 20 or 30 years ago. Can there even be a self-aware reality poem that can be taken seriously and move people as poetry should? Isn't all the "self-aware" postmoderny stuff, which is a Law now, counter-poetic because of its very artlessness? These are questions David Shields must answer.

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