More APIA Presentation Notes

Reading Eileen’s presentation notes for the Bay Area APIA Poetics and the Avant Garde. As is often the case, results of participating in a panel like this–involving a handful of other poets and artists–slowly percolate out in the days, weeks, and months following. I could summarize, but I know that my thoughts will focus on one thing, and then later another. My own presentation felt like a mish-mash of thoughts, manuscript notes, and poem excerpts pulled together out of the blue.

But I know that certain words, fragments of phrases, images, stood out as moments and ideas I’d like to remember. Eileen’s emphasis on a poetics of listening [to others–connecting with loob, I’m thinking], for example, over even the idea that experimentalism in poetry should be introduced in classes. Truong Tran’s mention of his mother’s ability to translate a dress found in a store to an exact pattern, to her own creation of the dress; the physicality of both Truong Tran’s neural memories of folding patterns for his boxes, and Jai Arun Ravine’s poetry of movement and satire, Margaret Rhee’s complex thinking, exploring through the terms and the rifts, her sense of finding community among artists. And Barbara Jane’s questioning mode, which seems at times to be her poetics, even beyond the panel setting.

As for myself–if I stop to listen to myself once in awhile…I realize that my brief mention in my talk of being “older” was something said not just in passing–but something I want to think about more–“older” as a state of thinking/feeling as well as being, questioning, exploring–“queering” even–the term Rhee brought up. The juxtaposition of “older” to “avant garde” sounds ironic. Maybe it’s my response to the ideas (Burger, Greenberg, the Frankfurt School) that the latter movement was adopted by the modernists as a manifestation of the obsession with youth, newness, novel commodities. What voice am I listening to that tells me that as one gets older, one can claim only a “past” and not a future? Aren’t “history” and “future” products of the imagination, as well as, acts that produce real effects?

Beginning, middle, and completion. When has anything in my life ever felt completed? Not even sex completes us. Not even death completes us. Each life and death is an opening–a wound and a portal. We all leave with many questions unanswered.

Still, as a poet, I have to claim it all–“past, present, and future;” the self, and selves that the term,loob, seems to encompass so well. Otherwise, I will have thrown away the key.

P.S. And I had my chocolate ganache, too.


  1. Nice entry, Jean, & Happy New Year. (Oh, well, did you see that Rachel Maddow piece on the tea bag gov of South Carolina where every State employee is required to answer the phone with, “Good morning! It’s a great day in South Carolina!” Yeah, as every Confederate/KKK ‘ear mark’ is being put back into ‘official narrative’, as well! Well that was a tangent! Yes ‘eldering’ is an interesting place to establish and go to – maybe like the tree. A ripe place with some physically terminal complications! I go there everyday day & new pleasures keep popping up.


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