Saturday, August 18, 2007

playing The Grand Piano

The Grand Piano is an on-going, multi-authored account of the San Francisco poetics community in the 1970s. If you're trying to get a sense of this project before, let's say, you buy and read copies of the volumes so far published, I suggest that you read a comment on and excerpt from it offered by Barrett Watten on his terrific blog. The focus is on the "turn to language" in that era, an excellent way in. And here's another.

I also recommend Watten's "The Secret History of the Equal Sign: L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Between Discourse and Text," published in Poetics Today in 1999. "Avant-gardes, in breaking down the boundaries of the autonomous author in favor of both the work and its immediate reception within its community, frequently employ strategies of 'multiple authorship,' in which the work is positioned between two or more authors, toward a horizon of collective practice or politics. Any theory of the avant-garde must take into account, not only the poetics of its devices of defamiliarization and their relation to the construction of new meaning, but its stakes in the discursive community defined by means of its literary practices."

Here's the archive of Watten's blog posts.