Saturday, June 10, 2017

5. Note on Boredom

[prefatory to a longer note on boredom]
I was at a mini-conference on the long poem, in the city, at a famous university, a few months back. A critic-scholar professor X (not his real initial) was in the chair. Two poets read. The first, Y (not his real initial), was a conceptualist, who read a long piece generated from a much shorter source text by a complex and somewhat mechanical procedure. The second, Z (not his real initial), a Language Poet, read a long piece “guided”—by some extent—by procedure, but relying upon old-fashioned “compositional” skills.
Afterwards, X opened the Q&A period with a comment on how his own attention had wandered. I found myself, he said (though I’m paraphrasing), tuning out now and then, losing the thread. And I’m wondering how you guys build that inevitable “tuning out” into your conception of the poem, that moment when the audience or reader loses focus on what’s going on.
Y grinned and nodded throughout his comment. Z knit his brow, and answered: No, no, not at all, I’d hope for the reader to be paying attention all the way through.

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