Q & A: American Poetry

Q & A American Poetry: Lara Glenum

Lara Glenum author photo

A Note on American Poetic Excess

In American poetry, we are building an enormous funerary monument. A monument to our own imagined collective death.

We fervently wish our empire would collapse, and then again, we don't. We prefer not to be dead and are having bazillions of fun.

Our poems are effigies. Effigies that express our longing for our own imminent demise but that also serve as a substitution, an offering to stave off a death we would avoid at all costs. Art as necessary simulacra. Placation. To some pixilated, meat-addled gods.

We are having ourselves some truly phantasmagoric fun. We shoot our pornotopic wad. In spectacles and games. We're a lube job atop our nefarious empire.

Georges Bataille divides society into two parts: the productive part and "the second part, represented by so-called unproductive expenditures: luxury, mourning, war, cults, the construction of sumptuary monuments, games, spectacles, arts, perverse sexual activity… all these represent the activities which… have no end beyond themselves."

For Bataille, these "unproductive expenditures" are revolutionary because they are the antithesis of use.

Poetry in America is widely perceived to be utterly useless, even by the poets themselves. It's barely commodifiable. Non-productive and degenerate. Not even a valid form of social protest. Bilge and dredge, poetry is the excrement of civic life.

These are perfectly fine circumstances.

Museums and publishing houses are an attempt to curate our various diseases. Diseases that can't and won't be managed. Teach us to shut up.

In America, they say, we are all totally queer. That we degenerate with great relish. Ill-gendered and apocalyptic, we can die and die. The "women" among us can come and come.

"And what about Lady Liberty," asks Will Burke. "All green and holding a cock. Empty on the inside. Tickets purchased, security checks. She has no pleasure. And she is the gate-keeper."

We shake our teeth. We invite the approaching blobs of horny metal to slide right in. Junk fingered up, we are creaming a genocidal stream.

America is a language. It is our interface with death. The killholes in our poems make a sucking sound. We stand here like a crash blossom. Our death panels all lit up.

Published 2010.

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