Dear Brandon, Konrad, and Juliana,
Hugs back, and thanks for the responses. I think Brandon hits on something crucial here regarding the "similitude" proposed in Juliana's comparison. I'll get to that in a minute.
First, Juliana, my point was not to attack you personally, and I don't think I did, though I admittedly used some harsh adjectives to critique the tone of the passage, and perhaps could have chosen a few other passages from other writers so it didn't seem as if I were responding solely to your paper (NB: links to blog itself. I don't see a permalink link, so scroll down for J's paper). As both Jonathan Skinner and you noted (JS on FB), we are more in agreement than not about many things, and much of your poetics work speaks for itself.
However, that image of the unmatching chairs stuck, sticks, in my craw, and I felt I had to address what I see as a kind of tone the academy often takes towards we in the community of those unmatched chairs. I wasn't there, and I didn't hear you speak that passage aloud, so I have only what you wrote as a basis on which to make a judgment. What I "hear" in that tone is someone in the academy speaking to others in the academy about what is outside the academy. I hear someone making a joke about something that I and many others do either for a living or out of love or both. You may not have intended this, but from here it sounded derisive.
Which brings me back to Brandon's point about the similitude thing, which might be more like a question than a response, and which is probably something about which we might all have a great conversation over coffee or the internet sometime. Or maybe now?
What could be read into Juliana's 'similitude' is a question like the one I was also proposing, which might read something like this: The "loving social" of the poetry reading outside the university is proposed as an "alternative" to the presentation of poetry outside the academy. If that is the case, if it is to be a true alternative, then what other forms besides the 'two poets reading' format might it take?
(But for whom and to whom are we asking this question? If we are asking it to the audience inside the academy, are we not asking the authority structure itself to develop a set of acceptable alternatives to its own formats and structures? and in so doing, are we not also implicitly accepting the authority of those institutions? I am reminded of being at a poetry conference in Cuba in 2000, where all of the poets were invited to a q & a with the Minister of Culture, who praised the Cuban lit mag Azoteas for being an act of resistance. It was a model of resistance, he said, which is why we have given them space in the House of Letters Building in Havana. An Argentinian poet/editor then asked the bold question, "If they are housed in a government building, then what, exactly, are they resisting?" The minister's response was predictably evasive, "We must resist hunger, and scarcity, and capitalism....")
I think the world outside is presenting alternatives to the academic model and can and will continue to do so. However, I think the academy authority structure tends to be blind to these alternatives so long as they question or reject its authority. Which is ok by me, but I think within the academy the acceptance of authority is such that there is a common (not shared by you, Juliana, let me be explicit) belief that if something is of value, the university will eventually discover it, and that if they don't, well, then it probably wasn't that interesting in the first place.
Ok, sorry, I am being more critical than I intended to be. I work closely with local universities in ways that are very fruitful, so I should point out some ways that this works, too. Universities do have the means, but they don't always have the knowledge of contemporary poetry to be able to program effectively, especially if they don't have a poet/organizer on staff with those interests.
I have had a great relationship with Buffalo State College over the years wherein I bring about four writers per academic year to campus to meet with students. They read or answer questions or give a workshop or a talk, depending on what is needed. The university pays for this in a way that I cannot. I bring them the writer, they give me the money that pays for the visit, and then I get to present a writer I could not have otherwise have afforded to present in my series (or one I could, who I can now pay a respectable sum for their work).
I have also worked closely with the Poetics Program. Sometimes we plan events together, as we have similar aesthetic interests, other times we split things up. Poet/critics do their critical performance at the university and their poetry performance in the community. A useful model, I think for everyone, as it utilizes the strengths of all involved and everyone seems to benefit.
Maybe the more fruitful (and friendly) question to ask is, What would you like to see happen at poetry readings that you don't see now? Where would you like to see it happen? What do you hope to see a reading accomplish that you don't now? What are some alternative formats that the poetry reading might take? What do we value in the "loving social" that we can build on in the poetry community?
Poetics is, etymologically speaking, "a making," and so I think our energies are always best spent by making stuff and putting it into the world, be that stuff poetry or reading series or essays or neo-benshi performances or whatever. What the academy chooses to do with that stuff is up to them.
Love to you all.