Joyelle's "Future of American Poetry" vs the "Glut"/"Too Much" Discussion

by on Jan.27, 2013

I was thinking – as I often do – about the role of “glut” in contemporary (and modern) discussions about poetry; how it serves as a threat do the “future” of poetry in so much rhetoric.

The Poetry Foundation for example always uses it for self-serving means: THere’s all this “glut” of poetry, all this noise, only we know the best stuff. And of course Kenny Goldsmith’s rhetoric is similar. I remember when Steve Burt proposed that there was “too much” poetry and internet writing etc for him to keep up, that it was threatening his professional career (writing papers etc); Kenny Goldsmith replied that he didn’t need to read it all, afterall his “conceptual” poetry served as a filter or “managment” against this noise, i.e. he was Canonical, no reason for Burt to lose track of his academic career by reading internet-infesting Montevidayo….

Well, I think it’s interesting that in many ways Joyelle prompted this discussion of “too much” with her manifesto-ish piece “The “Future” of “American” Poetry – which she delivered on a Rain Taxi panel with Burt.

So I thought I would link to that talk here.

It’s interesting to read the following against Goldsmith’s/Poetry Foundation’s constant dismissal of the “glut”:

8. Poetry’s present tense rejects the future in favour of an inflorating and decaying omnipresence, festive and overblown as a funeral garland, flimsy and odiforous, generating excess without the orderliness of generations. It rejects genre. It rejects “a” language. Rejects form for formlessness. It doesn’t exist in one state, but is always making corrupt copies of itself. “Too many books are being written, too many books are being published by ‘inconsequential’ presses, there’s no way to know what to read anymore, people are publishing too young, it’s immature, it’s unmemorable, the Internet is run amok with bad writing and half formed opinions, there’s no way to get a comprehensive picture”. Exactly. You just have to wade through the plague ground of the present, give up and lie down in it, as the floodwaters rise from the reversed drains, sewage-riven, bearing tissue and garbage, the present tense resembles you in all its spumey and spectacolor 3-D.

4 comments for this entry:
  1. Johannes

    Brian Henry wrote this on Facebook:

    “of course, this “glut” is actually a sign of poetry’s well-being even as it threatens critics’ and anthologists’ abilities to shape their own canons. This “glut” also makes national awards increasingly meaningless, especially when there’s so much overlap between shortlists. When there are thousands of poetry books published in a year, there really is no way that judges can assess them all to choose “the best.” So they artificially narrow the field, are influenced by other shortlists and poets’ reputations and the publisher of the book, and continue to constrict what should be a much broader field.”

  2. Stephen

    But I enjoy reading Internet-infested Montevidayo. I plan to continue.

  3. Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle

    “You don’t even have to read it.”

    Dear Mr. Kenneth “White leader of the avant garde House” Goldsmith, I WANT to read poetry.

    Dear Glut, Pour it on.

  4. Jordan

    Anybody who complains about a glut obviously needs to stop publishing.