Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The State of the Art
You know, while reading "Emeryville War" this morning, it crossed my mind (not for the first time), how bizarre it was that writers like Bill Blackolive were out there writing the real literature of these times, telling the story of the Age just like Kerouac and Ginsberg told the story of theirs, or Hemingway and Dos Passos told the story of theirs (in a different way), but that only one bookshop in every five hundred (and that's a generous estimate), would have the intelligence or the foresight to carry their books. It's the same with libraries. Northampton, where I'm writing this from, is a fairly big provincial town, with historical connections to literature. John Dryden had some involvement with Northampton. So did Jane Austen. But I couldn't go into the grandly-titled Central Library--about five minutes walk down the road from this internet cafe--and find anything by Bill Blackolive. They have no books by anybody on the roster of the ULA, who publish Bill. They have nothing by Aleathia Drehmer or Michelle McDonald or Pat King or Michael Grover or Paul Tristam or Chris Torrance or Norbert Blei or t.kilgore splake or Ralph Murre or Sharon Auberle or Bruce Hodder (most gallingly) or Ron Whitehead or Robert Zoschke or Rob Plath or Carter Monroe or Jim Chandler or Donnie Cox or Ron Androla or Cheryl Townsend or John Korn or Tom Blessing or Tim Peeler. But these men and women are writing poetry and prose that's ten times as vital and beautiful and compelling and intelligent and true to the world we live in as anything the library stocks. Go to Leicester, birthplace of Joe Orton, and the story is no different. Go to London and the story isn't much different either, at least in the bookshops (I've never been in the libraries up there). I love hanging out up on Charing Cross Road, which is famed for its concentration of bookshops and does stock a few more poets than you can get down here, but I defy you to go into any of the places in London and find a poet whose writing can hold a dirty candle to the talent I've listed above. You might find the odd one who's still alive, but somehow those big time publishers just don't warm to anybody whose verse'll unsettle them while they work on their coffee and croissants in Cafe Nerro on a rainy metropolitan morning...
Posted by Bruce Hodder at Wednesday, June 18, 2008