|M. Nowak, M. Steiner, P. Smith|
Both poets stressed that it was important not to be boxed in by the type of writing, to lose the "attachment to genre" (as Mark put it, explaining that he does "labor history with line-breaks"), & as Patricia said, "we're all story tellers."
Patricia also shared some poems in her quietly intense performance style, one in the voice of an undertaker whose clients are increasingly young men killed by bullets, another, "Still Life with Toothpick."
The afternoon workshop I attended was titled "Poet's Forum: How Political Engagement Affects the Writing Process" & was held in a conference room in the Thurgood Marshall Center on 12th Street, NW. One might call it the Beloit Poetry Journal panel, as it gathered 3 poets, Douglas Kearney, Khaled Mattawa & Minnie Bruce Pratt from the BPJ's 2012 Split This Rock Chapbook & was co-chaired by editors John Rosenwald & Lee Sharkey. The poets were asked to describe their "leap from political engagement/insight to the poem on the page."
|D. Kearney, K. Mattawa, M. B. Pratt, J. Rosenwald, L. Sharkey|
Khaled Mattawa read an excerpt from his poem in the Chapbook, "After 42 Years" on the capture & death of Moammar Gadhafi. He described literature "as a space for contrariness & a space for conscience," also, poets as ones "capturing the echoes."
Douglas Kearney's poem in the Chapbook is in 5 parts, each dealing with separate aspects of the way "black babies" are perceived, focused on the recall of Costco's "Lil Monkey" doll. He read the sections titled "We don't operate in that kind of thinking," the dramatic section, "We have a really diverse, family operated company …" with it's "performative typography" (see my previous Blog on his reading) contemplating the question of Evil, & the first section, again bringing up the spirit of Trayvon Martin.
There's something implicitly counter to the recent AWP Conference (Academic Writers Project) here at the more plebeian Split This Rock, although the comparison sometimes became explicit, as it did at the first panel I attended when Philip Metres & Jennifer Karmin described an un-official human mic at the last day of the AWP Conference in Chicago. However, every once in a while I did hear what I would call an "AWP question," asking about such (non) things as "authenticity versus innovation," etc., though these moments were rare. If Split This Rock is anything it is diverse.