Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bruce Andrews

with Charles Bernstein
New York City, 1995

One way that your work, overall, but, say, especially the work since the Reagan years, defies normal generic categorizations as poetry is the range of kinds of language and sources that you use. Not that no other writing has ever used that, not even that no other poetry has used some of it, but still, the scope, almost the encyclopedic scope of the social reference in your work seems to break down conceptions of poems, not even the lyric poem, but even other types of poetry.

But think of how poignant that sounds even as you read back the transcript, I mean, just the idea that somehow having a desire for an encyclopedic range of possibility and reference and content and social bits of matter in your work would automatically seem odd that it would be poetry, that somehow what we think of as poetry or literary writing is supposed to accept the fact that it can operate happily with such a shrunken range of reference, meanwhile everybody in the world is confronted with this increasingly exploding range of reference that they embody in their own personal lives. I mean, if you are walking down the street, admittedly—I've lived in urban an area for twenty years—mass-culture, television, whatever your range of information is, you're being bombarded with this stuff all the time. And to somehow think that poetry is a place where you can't, unlike all these other areas in your personal life, have this come to life, seems so sad.