Hank Lazer's The People's Poetry

Lazer talks about some good things here, like Susan Schultz, Walter Lew, internet writing and publishing as possibly constructive reversals of globalizing infrastructure. He makes an attempt at addressing rap and spoken word (though in embarrassing uncle mode, ugh!), and goes out of his way to discuss neglected writers like Taggart, Enslin. He talks about Maria Damon! It's clear he's genuinely interested in asking questions about what the present situation is in poetry.

More importantly, he gropingly sees the idea of _dispersal_ as being possibly constructive. He is not even close to understanding the depth of the paradigm shift he is glimpsing out of the corner of his eye. He nervously reverts to mostly giving shout outs to Language poets who are already very well known and widely influential.

When discussing younger writers, this otherwise interesting essay becomes questionable. There seems to be some defensive gravitational impulse that keeps him from escaping triumphalist generationalism, though I would add that he's hardly the only established writer to have this problem:

_A major hazard for this generation is a bland eclecticism, with technically adroit writing that remains superficial because the cultural and historical tension of the formal gestures has evaporated._

If these gestures now lack historical tension (meaning it is no longer the 70s and early 80s?) then he is complaining that young writers sound too much like language poetry and that this doesn't work any more because those gestures only had a political meaning during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations? Would this mean the Lazer considers himself and his contemporaries to have at some point (in the mid 80s?) to have stopped writing in the present? He would then be advocating completely different gestures (direct contextualizations I assume, and think he's hinting at) that operate in present political context of the 90s and 00s? Gestures that poets of his generation are not making, even though they are working in the same period?

Or does he mean that only work that repeats Language Poetry's formal gestures AND framing propositions is valid? That _their_ work is _pure_ (his word) and that _younger writers_ are adulterated?

This seems like a hasty recycling of statements from Lyn Hejinian's famous Rain Taxi interview. My most cynical read on this is the possibility that this kind of statement is intentionally picking out some Iowa workshop / Jorie Graham imitators (work which actually IS confessional poetry with spray-on coating of Language Poetry) and ingenuously saying _look the kids aren't any good, we're the real deal_ as a generational PR move, ignoring the interesting younger writers. Lazer may actually not know about the existence of much writing by poets 20-40.

Or is this kind of statement just a temporary thing -- a presently incoherent conflicted response to a group artistic mid-life crisis?

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