Wednesday, 22 March 2000

From "Response to Andrea Brady"

By Scott Thurston.


Your paper was extremely fine, and still reads as very urgent. Your question about whether the poetics of Language Poetry replaces the power-relations of grammar with "chaos, and a refutation of historicity" reminds me of Gilbert Adair's letter to Robert Sheppard in Pages (65-72, March 1988, 68) that warns of the risk of "mimesis of actual informational chaos" in poetic practices attempting a response to Language Poetry. I still think, however, that Bernstein's poetics offers, in the quoted segment, a resistance to the absolute that you elsewhere appear to advocate, and that this doesn't exclude encountering death. I don't think Language Poetry ever really stood for a "fetishizing of the endless deferral of meaning."

I also think that there's a danger in reading the poetics of poets without relating it to the poetry they produce, poetry which I think persists as a much richer and more complex set of engagements than the poetics seek to describe/delimit. The poetics are the imaginary solutions which spur the creative work towards successful failure.

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