by James Pate on Aug.26, 2011
Here’s Bolano on the future of poetry, taken from his essay on Parra called “Eight Seconds with Nicanor Parra”: The Poetry of the first decades of the twenty-first century will be a hybrid creation, as fiction has already become. We may be heading, with terrible slowness, toward new earthquakes of form. In this uncertain future, our children will watch as the poet asleep in an armchair meets up on the operating table with the black desert bird that feeds on the parasites of camels. At some point in his life, Breton talked about the need for surrealism to go underground, to descend into the sewers of cities and libraries. Then he never spoke on the subject again. It doesn’t matter who said it: THE TIME TO SETTLE DOWN WILL NEVER COME. (The capitalization is Bolano’s.)
Three reasons why I like this quote:
1: The phrase the “poet asleep in an armchair meets up on the operating table with the black desert bird that feeds on the parasites of camels.”
2: The idea that poetry “will be a hybrid creation, as fiction has already become.” What did he mean by this? When we consider that most of his favorite contemporary fiction writers were artists heavily influenced by genre (Javier Marias, Cormac McCarthy, Philip K. Dick, James Ellroy) I can’t help but suspect that he meant, at least partially, that poetry would start to gain some new energy from genre (and, I would argue, not in the condescending aren’t-we-so-much-smarter-than-the-average-genre-reader tone that all too frequently mars experiments with hybrid fiction in experimental writing, but rather approaching crime fiction and sci-fi and mysteries with the same passion we’d bring to “literary” writing).
And 3: The recognition of Parra in the essay as a whole, who really is one of the great unsung heroes of twentieth-century poetry, a badly needed modern day Petronious laughing in the midnight graveyard.