01 October 2009

Jed Rasula

[from Jed Rasula's The American Poetry Wax Museum, National Council of Teachers of English, 1996]

the attenuated lyric personalism that is the dominant workshop mode has constricted the range of expression and blotted out the diversity of ethnopoetic traditions. John Koethe's analysis is astute: "Writing programs are not usually 'schools,'" he points out. But, "[i]n the absence of explicitly articulated theoretical principles regarding the nature and purpose of poetry, they inculcate, by default, a poetics of the 'individual voice' that valorizes authenticity and fidelity to its origins in prepoetic experience or emotion." In other words, ethnic diversity at the applicant and trainee level does not automatically translate into poetic diversity. So the writing programs have become a safe haven, a refuge from the sociocultural perplexities signified by "theory" and "postmodernism" (not to mention "late capitalism"), promoting a return to the now paradoxically reassuring anxieties of self-doubt.

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