Where are we going with narrative? Part 1

poetry / Uncategorized

Conceptual poetry/literature takes many shapes and forms.  Lately, the big, radical statement seems to encompass lifting words/text from primary sources (newspapers, novels, sidewalk advertisements, etc. ) and re-imagining/restructuring/shuffling them to create new art.  (See conceptual writing.)

Again, this is a form of sampling, which—as I have already noted—is virtually de rigueur in the wild world of hip hop.  It’s been practiced, of course, in fine art as well, for decades (i.e. Warhol). Now that narrative tricks like meta-fiction, stream of consciousness and rotating points of view have all been depleted and overused, there’s nowhere else to go for the enterprising young (or old, in my case) writer/scribbler/appropriator/artist/mad scientist.

What I propose is a radical hybridization to blur the lines between narrative/prose/verse and the visual arts, thus creating a completely new form/genre of art.  One idea: long poetry novels/narratives filled with pattern/concrete poetry and graphics.  We have seen this in a very limited scope so far—with concrete poetry of the 1950s, and the more recent short visual poetry pieces (last vispo).

Visual poetry and conceptual writing, in general, have pushed the envelope, and innovated far beyond what most of us thought was possible.  But I think we need to be more radical in our approach.  Why not, for instance, a thousand page vispo/pattern piece narrating the history of European anarchism (seemingly prosaic and sectarian, I admit, but pregnant with possibility)?  Some might say this idea is closer to the graphic novel (comics) genre—but there’s hardly any poetic lyricism, for instance, in Alan Moore or those of his ilk.   This is not to say that that genre is without merit, but only that it is not poetry per se.  Perhaps, someone could argue it is, in fact, poetry, though that seems a reach to me.

I’ll try to flesh out my ideas in upcoming posts. I’m still formulating what I think might be a radically new artistic genre.