04 March 2013
CA Conrad || On the "Post-Avant"
I missed Conrad's panel on Saturday ("The Thingness of Things" w/ Allison Cobb, Alicia Cohen, Jennifer Coleman, Jen Hofer, and Kaia Sand) because I wanted to catch Eleni Stecopoulos's talk for the "Illness, Landscape, Healing" panel (which took Robert Kocik as one of its subjects!). As such, Conrad sent the following observation to emphasize an important distinction he made during the conversation:
At the Ecopoetics conference I encouraged an end to the use of this term because it denies the possibilities. First of all it was created by elder poets, and to me it's wrong for THEM to be telling US who we are and what we're doing in such a way as to say we are POST. Left overs. Nothing more. It smacks of hubris. It says THE WALL HAS BEEN MET. Yet CLEARLY we were sitting in rooms together discussing VERY NEW and VERY TRANSGRESSIVE activities surrounding poetry for Ecopoetics, for Ecopreservation. These activities for an absolute loyalty to the planet as if POET BE BRIDE TO EARTH, stewards to deviate from all that is feeding empire and ravaging our one and only home. I read this at the panel, words from Kaia Sand (she had been interviewed by Carol Mirakove after Kaia curated Women in the Avant Garde):
"I chose the term avant-garde over experimental because avant-garde implies the social side of the work. There are a lot of ways to pitch in with an avant-garde movement --- this is an inclusive frame. So many artists have shown us that if you want to extend what's possible, you need to build the ground to walk on --- and that's collective action."
These words from Kaia are words we need to keep in mind now more than ever. YES we can respect and love our elders for all they have done. We're standing on their shoulders after all, aren't we? HOWEVER, we absolutely MUST NOT GIVE INTO the idea that the wall has been built and cannot be breeched. Deny it!! Deny this with me!! THERE IS SO MUCH WORK TO DO AND WE MUST FIGHT TO DEFINE OURSELVES IN WHAT WE DO!!