We'll hang on
to what proved useful
Eggs are full
of flame retardant
(from "Headline Song" by Armantrout,
2005, p. 94)
Noah's ark wrecked, a wreath on reefs
untallied ho and compass clatch
insurgent, strategic mass proctored
by priests of weed and wrack, full
fathom strive to earn this infamy,
president pretzeled in Bosnia tank
(from "Safe Haven" in Schultz,
2000, p. 54)
and daggers sloughed off
as evidence of old, if imagined,
wars against spirit or self--
lost in the high grass that
dissolved ages hence, however
strait our gates and warm
(from "Baudelaire's Knee", in Schultz, 2000, p. 45)
As in Baudelaire's "Reve parisien":
Sur ce triste monde engourdi
find, as we often do in women's experimental writings,
that it is thwarted, just as the female speaker is in her
(Tarlo, 2000, p. 252)
Schultz quotes an email from Charles Bernstein:
commitment to poetry, to poetics and indeed to teaching.
If anything, 9/11 made me feel an intensified sense
of the relevance of the office of poetry. Not the
demeaning sense of poetry as 'comforting' in a time
of crisis . . . I mean poetry as a way of thinking in, around,
and through 'the real,' and in particular, a way of going
beyond the deafeningly deceptive representations of
'reality' provided by the massed media.
(Schultz, 2005, p. 211)
with an inadequate knife while he screamed,
after the heads of David Pearl
and Richard Johnson were detached
in midthought, in terror but
caught alive on a grainy video, what
did their stored oxygen enable them to mouth
along the path toward us,
her arms stretched out,
her mouth open,
the world turned to trash
is between the legs. Is this
why wars are fought?
and the children went to war
when they came back
the children bore children--
there are children everywhere.
But the women, they simply bathe.
It will all be over soon
perhaps the grass will grow
and people will die in the grass
(from “Will You Marry Me?” by Taeko Tomioka,
While the avant garde is frequently linked to a rejection of patriarchy, and realism and formalism to (political) conservatism / the political right, poets might exercise caution -- to avoid imitating devices of oversimplification and divisiveness used by politicians. Spahr has written:
despite its seeming innocence. It is only recently,
after modernism, that it has gotten its bad name
for being traditional, for being romantic in the derisive
(in Rankine & Spahr, 2002, p. 1)
it poses questions, it undermines all certainties,
including the certainty that you possess the truth--
and are entitled to kill people in its name.
(July 19, 2007)
Armantrout, R. “Headline song” (poem). In J. Goldman and L. Scalapino (eds).
War and Peace 2. Oakland: O Books, 2005.
Atwood, M. “A Women's Issue” (poem) In Margaret Atwood. Selected Poems II: Poems Selected and New, 1976-1986. Boston: Mariner Books, 1987.
Baudelaire, C. From “Reve parisien” (poem). In Les fleurs du mal/Flowers of evil (p. 52). Trans. G. Dillon and E. St. Vincent Millay. New York: Washington Square Press, 1962.
Belsey, C. Poststructuralism: a very short introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Daniels, K. “War photograph” (poem). In A chorus for peace. M. Arnold et al, eds. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press 2002.
Kumin, M. “The beheadings” (poem). American Poetry Review (November/December 2005).
Poggioli, R. The theory of the avant-garde. Trans. G. Fitzgerald. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1968.
Rankine, C. and Spahr, J. American women poets in the 21st century. Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 2002.
Schultz, S. A poetics of impasse in modern and contemporary American poetry. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2005.
Schultz, S. “Baudelaire's knee” (poem). In Aleatory allegories. Applecross: Salt Publishing, 2000.
Schultz, S. “Safe haven” (poem). In Aleatory allegories. Applecross: Salt Publishing, 2000.
Tarlo, H. `A she even smaller than me`: gender dramas of the contemporary avant-garde. In Mark, A. and Rees-Jones, D. Contemporary women's poetry: reading/writing/practice. New York: Palgrave, 2000.
Tomioka, T. “Will you marry me?” (poem). In other side river. Trans. L. Lowitz and M. Aoyama. Berkeley: Stone Bridge Press, 1995.
This postcard forms part of the forthcoming feature on Ecopoetics in the next issue of HOW2.