Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 27.1 (Ron Silliman)

The New Sentence
Silliman, Ron 
The New Sentence

Purchased at Rust Belt Books, not the newer version on Allen St., but the previous one, at the corner of Ashland and Lexington, kitty corner from the old co-op.

At the time the two employees of the store, aside from owner Brian Lampkin, were Taylor Brady and Graham Foust. I think it was Graham who told me they had a copy of this for sale.

I had read it previously during my time working at the Segue Foundation in New York. There were about a hundred copies on the shelf in the basement. This title always stood out because of its bright yellow cover.

I remember when Ron read in Buffalo in the late nineties. He gave a talk for about twenty people in a classroom in Clemens Hall. It was not Charles Bernstein's room, the usual location for such a talk to take place, but some other room in the building. Charles may have been on Sabbatical.

Ron had a gigantic ledger that he used as a notebook. I am not sure what he was writing in it, but he spoke quite a bit about his process at the time and how this giant ledger book was an integral part of it. That's all I remember: Ron Silliman and a big notebook.

This was before the birth of Ron Silliman the blogger.

When that Ron Silliman was born, he became the talk of the town. Everyone in the poetry world seemed to read that blog. It became the poetry world equivalent of SNL jokes at the proverbial water cooler.

Did you hear what Silliman called mainstream poetry? The School of Quietude! Quietude! That's the best one I've heard in a long time. Etc.

I was kind of sad to see Ron's blogging fade away. I admired the dailiness of his engagement with poetry and his aggressive attempts to create conversations that made it feel relevant. I can imagine it is difficult to sustain that level of engagement for more than a few years, especially given the amount of negative commenting and so forth. Blog posts of mine that generated that kind of energy left me so exhausted after two days that I felt I needed a vacation.

There's a Residential College at Yale named Silliman College. I pass it on the way to and from work each morning. It takes up an entire city block. I always think of Ron Silliman when I read the little blue plaque with the college's name and coat of arms emblazoned on it. Silliman College, the school where poetry matters most. Maybe I can sell that.

from The New Sentence

from The Political Economy of Poetry

The social composition of its audience is the primary context of any writing. Context determines (and is determined by) both the motives of the readers and their experience, i.e., their particular set of possible codes. Context determines the actual, real-life consumption of the literary product, without which communication of a message (formal, substantive, ideological) cannot occur. 


mongibeddu said...

One of your best entries, this one!

Michael Kelleher, New Haven, CT said...

thanks, hombre!