Sunday, February 29, 2004

Open Letter to an umbrist:

I went to the "umbrist" site today and noticed you called the "umbrism" site a "plagiarist" site.

What is plagiarist about it? Looks like the surrealist manifesto with the names changed. It is obviously meant to point out something to you. But, Plagiarism? How about, fun nudge nudge sarcasm? I'd say the latter.

Best to check the majority of your published statements on your sites about poetry: the majority of which have been spoken before; the tone of your voice--for each of your personae--has been used before; the look of your pages comes from a template; the books you read have been read before; your tuition as students has been paid before; even the pictures you choose to use have been used without permission, not as a form of theft, but as a way to express your self . You express yourself to us through others , because of others. Plagiarism! Please.

Maldoror , for example: no young poet has ever been captivated by Ducasse's excess before you came along.

You're beginning to sound like Rimbaud's pointless cry "Our assholes are different." Anality is the worst of excess.

In fact, nothing that you do is original. In my opinion, that's what is great in poetry, about LANGUAGE: verse , literally, is a turning of phrase . Though your perspective may be unique to your point of view, it is contemporary with an uncounted number of perspectives occurring simultaneously in that instant. In other words, you are ordinary, everyday, and as a poet doing it with other poets. I assure you that learning to recognize the presence of the other as other than a demand or an insult is a must. If you cannot handle it, go back to the cafe. Go be a talker.

The attempt to claim originality is something I find extremely distasteful, not because you aren't engaging and unique but because nothing will come of the claim. Moreover: not because you aren't worth it but because it cannot happen, never has, never will.

When I first remixed "School of Sleep" I thought it was Fun, Playful, for Pleasure--not parody exactly but enjoyable expression--and I remixed it in a way to show you my pleasure in it. Nick Piombino commented about riffs; I like the comparison to Jazz. Everyone riffs off the created theme: in improvisation yet in chorus. Folks told me I over-reacted to your insulted response. So, I backed off and explained ridiculous. We were having a conversation. You cannot own your poem.

Now, I am beginning to believe that you actually have purchased some value in fruitless boasting. And that's too bad. You're treating your ideas like a commodity that can be exchanged for ownership and rights to claims. Exchange work in this way; folks exchange one kind of thing for another kind of thing because they feel what they are getting in the exchange is more valuable than what they give up. So, if you are giving up a poem or idea or claim or poetics or identity in an exchange, in this manner, what is it you are getting in return and how is it more valuable to you?

Also, don't forget: when you make claims in public you are claiming something for yourself and putting claims onto others. Are you umbrists or claim-jumpers? Are you umbrists or Sooners?

I suppose the listing of the Umbrism site as a plagiarist site may be a backhanded compliment. I find your response to them as insight-less as your initial response to my "School of Peeps" (which is a good poem I think reading it again; I mean, it has marshmallow birds in it!)--that is what Breton was doing...even Rimbaud, in his rebel stance, only wanted ever a hug, a talking back and forth, the ability to rely on his contemporaries.

A 17 y/o Rimbaud wrote to Theodore de Banville & Alphonse Lemerre about the "season of love", "coming of age", becoming a poet, a Parnassian. Such joy. But he left, in a post-script after a grand and playfully precocious introduction (a warning, in a way,) a doubtful statement...he showed dependence, even:

"Do you suppose these verses could find a place in Le Parnasse Contemporain? Are they not of the poet's creed?/ I am unknown; what does that matter? All poets are brothers.../ Cher maitre, help me: Raise me up a little; I am young; hold out your hand to me..."

A gesture that is at once bold and needy is courageous, I think. And shows a far greater maturity and self-assuredness than would simply a boast.

This is what we do for each other--

come here and give me a big hug.

ps: And UMBRISM...a dark spot (an umbra)...I hope it isn't a bruise or a clot.

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