Blog of the AMM

Tencer On Poetry Scenes: talking about Nick Blinko’s The Haunted Head (Coptic Cat, 2009) and the use made of it in Out To Lunch’s BLAKE …

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Dunno, the Nick Blinko seems pretty good, but the quotes from him in BLAKE seem kinda thin compared to, say, anything by Ken Fox. I mean, puddles, astronomical scale, mists and miasmas, these are all the correct subjects, the sexual qual of impossibly trivial smallness jarring up against impossibly large physical phenomena, opening the drastically expanded scope of what we are; that is actually happening here, but the illustrations you’ve got accompanying them clearly beat the shit out of their poetry by a country mile. I remember feeling skeptical for long stretches of the Late Lunch radio shows where you read out Blinko — it sounded too easily rant-wild, a canned frenzy compared to your own word jazz or the readings from the Wake or AZMUD — but then I also remember some stretches that did scratch the itch head on, entire chapters at a time that gave too much, & thus finally enough. I came away from the marathon readings sick of hearing about Blinko (your tendency to Blitz, cf. Bishop Brown, can result in overkill for the uninitiated, tho’ the core infectiousness of your unbridled enthusiasm does stick around, resistant despite the onslaught), but I am still interested to see it on the page to judge it for myself. $120, though, is a preposterous amount of dosh for Blinko’s The Haunted Head, so clearly it would require one of your aforementioned photocopies. Also, [it’s published by] David Tibet?! Just: Why? There are contradictions here “big enough to put your fist in if it was a small fist & you really wanted to put it there” … The artsyfart neo-academic poets experiment with elitist address, but their output remains homemade and affordable, while materialist wordsoup “ripe for all to slurp” is published by occultist far-right flirters, & impossible for smalltime schnooks like me to actually afford.

I hate the poetry scene, truly hate it, it’s where I lurk when there’s no real juices flowing anywhere … there’s some good people here and there, of course, but it makes me feel sick how little honesty seeps out of them in that context. The point of any artistic activity worth paying attention to is to get at what’s really happening, & to do that requires stripping off all the hype and hip front we feel the need to erect to help us survive life under capitalism. Like Frank Zappa said about the Beatles’ “All you need is love” being bullshit because love is just the START, the tearing away of the pretend personality surface is where the poetry/music/art first has a chance to become an active force, but time and again the poetry scene skips that crucial step, pussyfooting around the shibboleth of embarrassing unrepressed actual experience, merely imitating the unmediated thru an ornamental simulacrum dance of rejection and world-angst. I never want to have another conversation with anyone who listens considerately and nods, revealing nothing in return. Robots do this, scientologists pumping secrets out for the e-meter do this, journalists trying to catch out quotes from political mannikins do this… the empathically-dead hangback technique of relishing others’ confessions. But by any definition of art or poetry or music that can still mean anything at all, artists, poets and musicians cannot play this game. Featuring one’s impermeability is every bit as worthless as making an art of featuring one’s hurt, — they’re both reactions to the same traumatic repression, just as Puritanism and televisual hypertitillation are both expressions of America’s specific sexual dysfunction. The contrived acts, epigonic imitations and hip affectless deliveries of contemporary poetry are just the other side of the same culture that gave us white folk singers jangling their acoustics and making a spotlighted fetish of their stunted emotions.

Anyway. This impatience with all forms of pose is what keeps us AMMers leaving every scene that’ll have us … but it helps knowing that this very impatience can itself be shared collectively, so I suppose there’s always hope.

Ok. I need to go eat now and steel myself against the day’s impending worthless tasks. The coming utopia will be a life without boredom. Xox!,

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