Andrea Brady, as quoted on Digital Emunction, humbly makes it clear she’s better than you:
I’m perfectly aware that my poetry isn’t going to change the world because it is “far from a mass movement,” as I wrote somewhere: it’s not part of the class struggle, energized by direct action or likely to inspire it. I can carry on writing it if I think it will be available to future readers as a record of a peculiar dissidence. At times that in itself has seemed like a major accomplishment. At my most optimistic, I hope it encourages its readers—who, as readers seeking out this kind of work, aren’t likely to require encouragement—to think critically about politics, or perhaps to be inspired by such thinking to participate in collective efforts to overcome the tyrannies of capitalism. As a reader myself, I’ve been inspired by poetry to do what else I have done; and I would include, among my political acts, teaching, conversation, and collaboration. I think I share with other Cambridge types the belief that engaging with 300 or more students every week in debates about literature, politics, rights and forms and language, is a political and ethical activity. When I teach difficult late modernist poetry (including the most recent poetry written by my peers) alongside the tweedy canon, I hope I am not being a hopelessly narcissistic self-advertising git. I consider it my pedagogical duty to those students, to examine with them the full range of alternatives to the regal discourses of jargon and bathos and greed. They can take what they want. I say this not because Archambeau has thrown the typical stink-bomb at the politicized poets who are also ghosts in the universities’ ivory machine, but because lecturers, who spend their working hours immersed in critique and negativity, can be a very masochistic bunch when it comes to describing the politics of their work. I think it’s worth proclaiming publicly that that work is a kind of activism, which promotes creative, intelligent, belligerent… well, yes, resistance.
What’s so pathetic about this is that poets don’t defend their art anymore, even in a pedagogical or idealistic manner (Shelley’s “Defense,” for instance).
Poetry is, if I might be really direct and simple about it, the essence of prose combined with the essence of music; what could be a more powerful cultural force? It happens that Advertising in various guises is, in fact, a powerful cultural force, and though we don’t call it poetry, it is using poetry’s power.
But look at this quote by Andrea Brady above, a typical pedagogical expression of a contemporary poet-intellectual’s immersion in the philosophy of dissent and dissidence and resistance.
She begins by using the word “poetry” self-pityingly.
“I’m perfectly aware that my poetry isn’t going to change the world.”
Then she goes on to boast in very vague terms about how her politics will change the world.
She goes on to talk of “political acts” and “language” and “resistance.” Poets such as her want to have their cake and eat it. They are poets only nominally; the philosophy of “dissent” is really their bag.
The problem is this: if dissent is not specific, it is merely quixotic, and when persisted in, becomes a blinding, killjoy philosophy. If to resist the “tyrannies of capitalism” is the ruling animus of one’s aesthetics, how is this anything but a path away from the main point? It is a truism to say resistance drives critique, and in fact drives all Letters, all science, all expression, all art, since, if we were content, and had no need to resist, we would never exert the effort in the first place, but it weakens, even invalidates all human enterprise to foreground dissent itself, since dissent is the default background of the whole activity. To argue that the good ‘resist’ what the bad ‘make’ is bad reasoning, since the ‘bad’ are really ‘resisting’ too, if the ‘good’ could only see it. We’re all “resisting” something all the time.
Andrea Brady rails against “regal discourse,” and, in the act of heroically “teaching difficult late modernist poetry,” puts herself (blindly, as it turns out) in opposition to the “tweedy canon.”
But platitude is her doom; she is caught helplessly in the web of her own making, unable to see that the New Criticism is both the “tweedy canon” and also the inventors of “difficult late modernist poetry.” And the guy who influenced the New Critics, T.S. Eliot (his and Pound’s reactionary politics fit right in with the Southern Agrarian New Critics) was as “regal” as they come.
“I hope,” she says, “I am not a hopelessly narcissistic, self-advertising git.”
Dear, I’ve got bad news.