04 February 2006

Rejecting Nature

The rejections have all returned home. That's right, folks, piles and piles of SASEs. Kyle's writings have been weighed and found wanting. In fact, that's pretty close to what my alma mater told me. "Thanks for your submission, but it's missing a few ingredients." Quite clever, really. Not that I expected them to print my short story and copiuos poems, but I then travelled over to their Website to find out what they meant by "missing ingredients." Excerpt:
Starting this year we are seeking writing that reflects our current era. Some may call it an era of “post-modern” digital loneliness, some may call it an era of Apocalypse, while some may not agree with any of these concepts. Whatever your thoughts on life in the 21st Century, it surely can’t be summed up in a poem about the beauty of dewdrops on spiderwebs.

Can it?

We are not looking for work that is self-involved. We are not looking for works written from a cabin in the woods, totally disconnected from society and the truth.

We seek writing that shows us who we are and what we’ve become.

Now, I can certainly dig this desire to find contemporary writings and escape the same crusty old nature poetry, but what about our alienation from nature? I've seen these dewdrop poems, but what if the poem was revised to reflect our "post-modern" digital loneliness? After all, this space we all meet, this space we forge new friendships to combat our loneliness is called the World Wide Web. Maybe we are the dewdrops and the beauty is our connection within the Web.

I've witnessed the flarfists, this movement all but declared dead by the originators, and I've observed how they shape the poetic tastes on our college campuses. On my own campus, I watched a stodgy Southern-style writer with all his simplicity and cohesiveness follow the flarfist to their style, always following and never leading. Nothing he's published has been his own.

Kasey Mohammad is a god, because he helped forged something almost distinctly new. I use "almost" because this google approach to writing poetry is really a throwback to the Dadaists of the 1920s. But it is enough his style, his distinctly Deer Head Nation style, that he has forged a name for himself, that he has caused enough of a stir to mark his place in poetic history along with Nada Gordon, Gary Sullivan, etc. Somehow, I believe he's flattered that he has so reshaped a school so entrenched in the old ways of creative writing, but simultaneously disturbed that the students don't quite get the point, that it's about exploring our connections to the world and not holding back, even if it means creating our own conventions that ultimately rattle the establishment. Sorry for misrepresenting your views here, Kasey. Readers, what I just did was wrong, but how I feel. Never speak on behalf of another, unless you're Scott McClellan. I digress from my main rant.

More and more, we witness this literary movement away from nature. Why? For the most part, I blame the digital age, an age that creates this image that we are further and further removed from our Mother. We aren't! This screen you're reading, it's roots come from nature. The keyboard you type on, it's connected to cards composed of chips crafted from silicon. Silicon and carbon make up Earth's most prevalent elements, aside from the gases, yet we synthesize new materials from them and claim triumph over nature. But, would we have these things without our Mother, did we not create new life from her spilt milk?

Remember the next time you do anything, we are a part of nature, always. We cannot escape it, and anytime you try to convince yourself your above this celestial orb, look around you and consider the origins of each and everything surrounding you.*

*Inspired by a meditation from Eric Alan's Wild Grace

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Q. "More and more, we witness this literary movement away from nature. Why?"

A. Because what do most modern writers know about nature? Nothing. Does nature intersect with their lives? Rarely, if ever, especially if you don't count "connecting to nature" as camping in a National Park-ing lot.

I for one am truly thankful for all the poets out there who spend their lives parsing search engine results into winky, snurly poems. Fresh air is more refreshing after a good whiff of bullshit.