Saturday, July 16, 2011

The elitist avanthack clique on the UCal Poetry list

must be feeling sad today, following

announcements that the U of C press is suspending its stupifyingly mediocre

program of poetry publishing—

due to financial pressures.

Despite its books being shoved for wildly-inflated prices into higher-ed libraries across the country,

I can just imagine how poorly this series of unreadable obscurantics

has sold over the years—

the only "market" for the boring twaddle UCal publishes is a marginal subgroup of

avantgardistes, and librarians too dumb or indifferent to know what a waste

of money these volumes are—

UCal could have tried to find and promote poets the public might actually

want to read, poets in the tradition of Billy Collins and Jane Hirshfield and

Mary Oliver and Sharon Olds, poets whose books might have sold enough copies to break

even, to justify its budget—

Or, why not seek out those California poets now writing in the style and manner

of the great parlando populists Ferlinghetti and Bukowski?—

Are there NO Californian poets striving to carry on the native legacy of those two luminaries,

whose works have been appreciated by a widespread audience, by a public that will indeed buy and enjoy poetry which is directed to and meant for a larger readership,

not for a privatized snob coterie of gradschoolist initiates—

If UCal had found and promoted even one current poet in the popular mode of Ferlinghetti and Bukowski,

even that one poet—him or her—might have saved its ass.

It didn't have to publish nothing but a numbbunch of generic avantclucks.

And if money is the problem, if UCal doesn't have the cash to carry a series which is in the red, a financial drain/disaster,

if it can't rig up some tax scam to write-off its losses,

why doesn't it just move to a POD model, which would cost practically nothing?

It could still publish and promote those avanthick tomes (and offer free pdf downloads of them)—

there's no law says it has to stick to ye old archaic deadtree traditional "trade publishing" practices—



Thinking of Ferlinghetti, a poet I have read with admiration
since my teens,

it occurs to me that some of the foreign poets he published early
on in the Pocket Poets series from his press City Lights—

particularly Prevert (whom he translated so brilliantly and with such affinity),

and Parra, and Enzensberger,

populist parlando poets like these 3—antipoets, to use Parra's phrase—

how his poetry, Ferlinghetti's, has much more in common with their work

than it does with most of the USA poets he published and promoted—

Duncan, Ginsberg, Levertov et al—

I don't doubt Ferlinghetti admired them, but

his own verse is closer in its predilections

to Prevert's and Parra's

than to theirs,

isn't it?


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