Stand van die Amerikaanse digkuns

Anis Shivani

Anis Shivani

Anis Shivani het onlangs ‘n aantal vrae oor die stand van die Amerikaanse digkuns aan ‘n klomp prominente digters gestuur. Pas het hy hul reaksies op Huffington Post gepubliseer. Die vrae wat hy aan hulle voorgehou het, is: “Is American poetry at a dead-end? Have American poets betrayed the great legacy of modernism? Why or why not? What worries you about the present moment in poetry? Do you see signs of life? Where is the most promising new work coming from? What is your advice to a young poet trying to make sense of the current poetry scene?”

Uiteraard was daar uiteenlopende, dog besonder insiggewende reaksies ontvang. Hieronder volg enkele uittreksels:

“It may be that some poets have arrived at a dead-end; for one way to be successful as a poet in American culture has been to carve out a niche, a particular ‘voice’ or style that is recognizable as a brand name, and to cultivate that niche for decades. There are perhaps styles of poetry that are at a dead-end. […] What worries me the most about the present moment in poetry is the degree to which it’s been taken over by the business of being a poet and subverted by the corrupt language of our culture. The attitudes and jargon of our consumer culture are perfidious, and poetry is not unaffected; hence, the cultivation of a “voice” as if it were a brand name, the isolation of the poetry-ego viewing others’ experiences as material for one’s sincere posturing, the round of networking and readings and mutual publications not unlike any social network with business connections.” (Rebecca Seiferle)

“American poetry, on the contrary, is neither dead nor at a dead-end. There may not be any great revolutionary movement afoot, but there is much ardent hewing of lumber in the forests of Poetry Land. […] I’ll risk restating the obvious by venturing that there’s only one useful piece of advice for any young writer: write. Pay no attention to the state of American poetry, the death of the book, the legacy of Modernism, the bedbugs in your cheap apartment: ignore as much as you possibly can get away with and write. Resist the careerist temptations of PoBiz. Stay home and write a poem. There is no particular place to get to in Poetry Land, anyway. The point of the journey is the journey itself.” (Campbell McGrath)

“I don’t know that all that much has really changed in America related to poetry in many decades. There were never really that many readers in the first place. Few to none–other than perhaps Billy Collins and Maya Angelou–are making (or have ever made) a living from sales of their books peppered in with a few readings. Everyone needs a day job. And this is also widely true for musicians, painters, and fiction writers, although their audiences are generally larger than one who primarily writes poetry.” (Chad Prevost)

“If the poetry scene has become more fragmented, it has also become more decentralized and democratic. The great thing is that, as a reader, I have more access than ever before, to a wide range of voices and styles.” (Shelley Puhak)

Wat my uiteraard van dié uitsprake opgeval het, is hoe dit eintlik net so van toepassing op ons eie situasie gemaak kan word; waarskynlik op enige dinamiese digkuns ter wêreld. Die moderne mens leef immers in ‘n tyd van ‘n versplinterende realiteit en myns insiens is dit deel van die essensie van die digkuns dat dié versplinterende bewussyn ook deur middel van die digkuns gereflekteer sal word.

Nietemin, ‘n artikel wat beslis die lees werd is. As verdere leesprikkel plaas ek ‘n gedig van Rebecca Seiferle onder aan vanoggend se Nuuswekker.


Sedert gister het daar een nuwe blog bygekom en dit is Leon Retief wat vertel van ‘n uiters ontstellende boek wat hy onlangs te lese gekry het.

Mooi bly.



Aztec Ruins


Standing here at the beginning of the ruins, we inhabit
a sky full of cries too numerous and varied to be identified. And what would we
call them?

The bird that cries like a man…

the bird that buzzes
with the locust pinched in the thumbs of a branch, the bird
with the voice of a broken whistle,

one last breath…just before
it breaks, the bird whose periodic
cry is a bright thread through the bullrushes…

These warbles, clicks, cries of surprise throng us with a language
we do not understand

our own voice, the lost voice
of our fathers meeting our mothers so long ago, the voice of whatever calls
us into being…

© Rebecca Seiferle



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