Charles Bernstein: the ‘outsider’ has finally arrived, but he’s a bit old— about as old as the Found Poem.
The big news at the AWP Conference this year was the hot lovemaking of Flarf and Conceptualism and the sweet, almost sexual, beating up of Language Poetry.
As Charles Bernstein, the heroic “outsider,” offers his “greatest hits” from Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux ($26 –get ’em while they’re hot!) just in time for National Poetry Month, and Rae Armantrout, the Southern California Language Poet, wins the Pulitzer, and Flarfist Kenneth Goldsmith waxes theoretical on Harriet, I can only think of one thing.
The Found Poem.
It makes me feel all toasty-warm inside.
Everybody remembers that quaint, quirky, artsy-fartsy device, right?
Grade school teachers who need to fill up an hour in the classroom can always rely on the Found Poem.
The Found Poem was amusing for a little while back in the 1960s.
Now, 50 years later, it’s the au courant big thing.
For, after all, what is Flarf, Conceptualism, and Language Poetry?
What do they have in common?
Hellooo, Found Poem.
Isn’t that what they are?
Third grade. Right after milk and cookies, and just before show-and-tell…the Found Poem.
This is not to diminish the importance of the found poem; the found poem is a heady idea. What’s interesting, however, is that these theoretical juggernauts in contemporary po-biz, like Bernstein, never call what they do Found Poetry.
Why is that?
My guess is that ‘Found Poem’ is too quaint a notion for Bernstein. Professor Bernstein wants you to think he’s a little more philosophically profound than you are—you, hypocritical twin! who read those New Yorker poems and think they are ‘real,’ you ‘official verse culture’ idiot!
Professor Bernstein, the post-neo-avant-neo, will set you straight.
The publishing house of Farrar, Strauss & Giroux was so clever to release Bernstein’s book in April, National Poetry Month. Bernstein might get more sales that way…and how about that every review of Bernstein’s book is positive! How could it not be? This guy’s good! Dude! For real! Bernstein, hater of “official verse culture” writes verse that is “hilarious” and “accessible!”
Take that, New Yorker magazine!
Look at what you “official verse culture” slaves have been missing!
How did John Dewey put it? “In order to understand the meaning of artistic products, we have to forget them for a time, to turn aside from them and have recourse to the ordinary forces and conditions of experience we do not usually regard as aesthetic. We must arrive at the theory of art by means of a detour.”
Bernstein’s long trek in the wilderness has been that “detour.” At last we can stomach Charlie’s horrible punning…er…philosophy.
The forces of real culture have found Maurice Vlaminck’s African mask. Now they are showing it to Picasso and Matisse. Ambroise Vollard is having that African mask cast in bronze.
And here’s our Charlie, cast in bronze, next to it, on the wall.
The detour was rough…but he’s home.