Perelman a realist?

Subject: Re: "facts" in this experimental poetry
Date: Mon, 6 Dec 1999 06:20:12 -0500 (EST)



Perelman explained that the 5-word "unfinished" sentences of "Chronic
Meanings" came to him "matter-of-factly," and so I asked 88'ers what he
meant by that, and Joan wrote:

| I think that Perelman was aiming for objectivity and a poetic result that 
| would more-or-less show some of the reality of having one's life cut short.  
| By "matter-of-factly" he seems to be saying that his writing was driven NOT 
| by sentimentality nor by any attempt to present abstract, emotional, or 
| philosophical perspectives on death. 

I do agree that he wanted to rid his writing of anything that would smack
of sensationalism, impressionism, rhetorical flourishes (as in, let's say,
a Victorian elegy), irreality. In a way, Bob is saying he was writing as a
realist. He was writing realism. The sentences came "as matter-of-factly
from my experience and imagination as I could manage."

Notice, then, how Perelman plays off

			utterly traditional realism

again several key aspects of 

			the experimental

in order to produce an "experimental poem" that doesn't make us think of
it as belonging to the realist tradition at all!

Those key aspects:

1) Each sentence is "as matter-of-factly from my experience and
imagination as I could manage" BUT the sentence stops after 5 words no
matter what that experience or imagination tells him to write. So each
sentence is a piece of realist writing BUT ONLY UP TO A SET POINT. So it's
realist writing with an operation applied to it.

2) Each sentence is "as matter-of-factly from my experience and
imagination as I could manage" BUT the sentences taken together, in a
sequence, do not follow from one another as in realist writing. So *each*
sentence is a piece of realist writing but the whole piece, or any two or
three sentences together are not realist. In other words, only the
sentences, taken singly, are realist. 

So is this realism-within-experimentalism qualititatively DIFFERENT from
poems written (for instance) according to following Bernadette Mayer
writing experiment?

 Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of
 prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already 
 existing work. 

Silliman in "Albany" and Hejinian in _My Life_ both often use perfectly
realist (or realist-seeming) sentences - "written right out of" their life
experiences - that in themselves seem narratively normal, until you try to
put them together with the sentence preceding and sentence that comes

So many *different* writing styles seem to be permitted to quality as part
of the "contemporary avant-garde poetry" scene! How? Why?


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