Sunday, September 18, 2005

"I See Words"

In Kiosk No. 2 (2003) there are some notes by Patrick Durgin on Hannah Weiner, which got me looking around for more about her. I wonder if the "sources" of Weiner's poems can teach us something about how to approach Flarf. It would seem there are different ways of interpreting the poems. Jackson Mac Low calls her a clairvoyant and Charles Bernstein saw her more as a schizophrenic. I'm not getting that exactly right. The important thing is that both emphasize her ability to to record her experience over the real or imagined sources of the experience. What makes the poetry important is not where it came from but how it got down on the page. That is Weiner's achievement, as I understand it.

The point is that the sources need not have any authority. It does not matter whether Weiner was visionary or insane. She could have been that without being a poet. "I see words," she said, and she undertook to write them down. Perhaps today Google allows everyone to see words. Not everyone, however, makes poems out of them.

No comments: