I won't go into the history of the "collective," which is laid out in loving detail in "Anonyme"'s introduction to the recently released Works and Days of the fénéon collective (Skanky Possum/Effing Press) (hard to come by at the moment, but you might look here). Suffice it to say they take their name from the art critic and anarchist Félix Fénéon, and are inspired by his Nouvelles in trois lignes, cryptic and anonymous squibs which appeared in the Paris Newspaper Le Matin in 1906. Fénéon's "novels" are capsulized and crystallized social commentary:
A dozen hawkers who had been announcing news of a nonexistent anarchist bombing at the Madeleine have been arrested.The 232 "faits divers" of the "fénéon collective" are rather more loquacious, and focus their commentary on the angst- and ambition-riddled microcosm of contemporary poetry. The humor is for the most part broad. We encounter the perpetually needy denizens of MFA programs:
Reverend Andrieux, of Roannes, near Aurillac, whom a pitiless husband perforated Wednesday with two rifle shots, died last night.
Too poor to raise him, Triquet, of Théligny, Sarthe, smothered his son, aged 1 month.
The MFA students of Iowa are on strike! Marching towards the Capitol, post-avant and School of Quietude as one, they brandished cans of Spam, the only aliment they can afford.Conceptual poetry makes an appearance:
In the midst of economic crisis, things proceeded as normal at the AWP: bailouts, bonus packages, back-room deals, aimless loitering of the unemployed.
"Ouch!" cried the cunning oyster-eater, M. Goldsmith. "A pearl!" Someone at the next table bought it for 100 francs. It had cost 10 centimes at the dime store.Time and time again, poets whose surnames assiduous followers of the "scene" will recognize collide head-on in the street.
The collective's primary targets are on the one hand the tired rhetoric of outsiderhood among post-avant poets –
Assistant Professor M. Devaney, of Penn, read a paper at the MLA, attacking Official Verse Culture. Now that it is printed in the Writer's Chronicle and collected in a prize-winning anthology from Wesleyan, the Literary Industry has been dealt another penetrating blow by the avant-garde.– and on the other the failure of real world political engagement among poets who are otherwise assiduous at trumpeting their own heartfelt political beliefs:
Let's protest the war, poets, said M. Hamill! 15,000 did. Messrs. Bernstein, Silliman, and Watten gave speeches, protesting the poets who protested. Irony.This sort of thing will certainly not do (as Samuel Johnson might say). The fénéon collective's squibs are nasty, mean-spirited, and not at all constructive. They are also for the most part wickedly funny & often very pointed indeed. The very anger they aroused on their first publication is an index of how close to the bone some of their satire strikes.
Well, Guernica's come and go... As Gaza burned, Mlle Dark, the self-appointed U.S. poetry medium of Badiou, devoted her blog to a personal "Top-40 Countdown" of pop music hits in 2008.
Yes, and as Gaza burned, the avant with 2,000,000 hits, former editor of the Socialist Review, devoted his blog today to an anecdotal homage for the '70s sitcom hit, Starsky and Hutch.
There is something here for everyone to be offended by, and likewise there is something to solace every resentment. My own favorite:
There is no god even for drunkards. The pugilist-poet M. Kleinzahler, of St. Germain, who had mistaken the window for the door, has left this world.