Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Jim Leftwich, Poetry makes things happen

NEW from Luna Bisonte Prods
Poetry makes things happen
Poems, essays, texts, afterwords, blurbs, notes...

For Jim Leftwich, the boundary between poetry and criticism, or more accurately, between poetry and writing about poetry, is extremely porous. This book should make that very clear; in fact, here it is sometimes hard to tell whether a text is “original poetry” or his writing “about poetry”. Which suggests that the distinction may not be all that important. (Another such book is one he wrote focused on my own work, or using my work as a springboard, Containers Projecting Multitudes: Expositions on the Poetry of John M. Bennett, 2019.) This is perhaps an outgrowth of his practice of making “hacks” of others' poetry and texts, which is in itself a means of entering into, and remaking aspects of, another's work, using a wide variety of processes ranging from the arbitrary and deliberate, to the improvisational and purely intuitive. What this does is to turn the process of writing about poetry on its head. Instead of applying a preordained critical method or theory to a text, Leftwich presents, as it were in “real time”, an account of what it was like, of what happened, when he read the text. We thus have a narration of a real experience of reading. For me, and for many of us in this new literary avant garde, this is vastly more interesting and useful than the use of a text to support or illustrate a particular literary (or other) ideology. Leftwich's work in this regard is unique, exciting, and represents real progress in the “problem” of “how to read poetry”, and of how to write it as well. -¬ John M. Bennett