Poetics of the Rhizome

Been a while. Here, a post that takes composting (repurposing) (ok cutting and pasting) to heart – coarse description for my winter poetry workshop. And, cuz the Puritan in me says LAZY BOY for plopping this down, I’ll put in some links, rhizome-style, to what I hope’ll be pleasing surprising ties.

By the way? Rhizome, from Deleuze and Guattari’s “Introduction: Rhizome” from A Thousand Plateaus, which, as I said today to my colleague Oliver, I’d never make an undergrad actually read, though in fact it’s durn pretty cool.

By the way also? Rhizome’s a complicated way of saying Indra’s Net.

English 453: Creative Writing Seminar: Poetry: “Poetics of the Rhizome”

A plant that grows by rhizomes spreads laterally underground, sprouting new plants where chance prompts it or opportunity allows. A rhizomatic plant lets go of where it came from. It extends indefinitely. Sprawls and breaks the rules. Makes its own rules and it don’t look back. Diverse and plural, not a voice but voices, it connects and connects some more. Think aspen, orchid, ginger, bamboo. Think poison oak, horsetails, bunch grass. We’re past good and evil here, beautiful and ugly, the rhizome’s where shit gets real.

In this class, we’ll meet the poem, poetry, as rhizome – a conversation without edges – messy sprawling webs of language that circle the globe, link human prehistory to the present moment, and embed human speech and action in a more-than-human world. Our focus will be student work, but we’ll touch in with ways of thinking-about-poetry, feeling-through-poetry, sympathetic with rhizomatic mind. The post-colonial turn from Anglophone canons to literatures of cultures at the muzzle end of empire. The work of ethnopoetics, fruitful but troubling, to recover pre-techno­logical ways of being and seeing. And the work of ecopoetics to divine, through the dowsing wand of poetry, a human place in the green and toothy world.

Full disclosure, with whine. Do I have time to check out all the links mischief has me propose? Are you kidding? With my working life? You know I make about minimum wage, right, when minimum wage is actually a living wage, as it is in, say, SeaTac? And here I am at 9:50pm eating Coop lasagna from the microwave and drinking a cheap but really not bad Grenache and spending entirely too long on a blog post … well, point is, I’ve given the links a quick scan, they seem fun, but be your own judges. Century of Scatter.

The intent here’s intimately practical. How to widen our notion of the possible in poetry? So count on lots of provocative reading, frequent writing exercises, and thoughtful responses to your work and that of your peers. Too, be ready for conceptions of the poem you hadn’t thought before: poem as prayer, incantation, manifesto, compost pile, neural net. Grades will be based on assigned exercises, writing journal, final portfolio, active and generous participation. Poetry by W.C. Williams, Robert Creeley, John Taggart, Ghandl of the Qayahl Llaanas, Will Alexander, Adonis, Jean Valentine, Coral Bracho. Poetics essays by Williams, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, John Cage, Charles Bernstein, Lyn Hejinian, Adonis, Adrienne Rich.

More of the promised links to come, friends, but I gotta call it a night. Rhizome mind is hard work. As all ferns and their fronds know.

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I write draw teach blog in and from the Pacific Northwest of America.

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