San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Sociopoetics for a New Century

Sociopoetics: a theory of poetry as social force.

Social reflexivity as a channeling instrument for poetic composition (insurrection). Social force as writing prompt.

As literary ethnography, a research into poetry formations (groups, gangs, guilds) as social worlds. People & poetry as a combinatory (compositional) force. Writing in geopolitically specific (g)locales.

At the same time, writing -- poetic language -- as a form of social research. Looking into, documenting social activity via data recovery, selective filtration, grounded theory, writing through the experience of participant-observation (life as always).

1. poetry research (study activities)
2. research poetry (activist studies)

Answering needs (finding solutions) for a given social world (in its own time) through literary activism.

In part, revisionist ethnopoetics for the (digitized) 21st century.

The charge, for some: to practice daily (in service), to promote just causes, continuing through amalgams of research and compilation (writing as editation, assembly), culminating sometimes in some bank of results, in turn feeding future research.

What are the sociopoetical power flows of a (North American? SoCalifornian? Northern Baja?) poetry, in its several (g)locales, and how does a poetry manage there?

Sociopoetics may resist the culture of publication but leans ever toward distribution. Persistent and ever-regenerative distribution is all but required in an age of ubiquitous information flows (steady-state impermanence, ephemerality).

Periodical inquiry through available means of periodical distribution.

San Diego, for example, needs a ‘newsletter’ of sociopoetic agitation, lovingly and dwellingly meta-urban, as a focus point for experimental literary action close to its bones, graveyards, and killing fields (border). This blog-site in part serves that function, though its resources are limited.

For: poetic writing that makes good on its imbedded promises. Against: poetry opportunism and the empty promises of dead letters.

Sociopoetics less as a category, as the imperative of a movement, and more as a common point of reference across languages, geographies, disciplines, life-walks. The end of poetry as guise and given (publishing mainstay, performance ethos), so the beginning of poetry as infinite risk possibility, where lives depend on it.

Where it begins is writing research, where it ends is writing research. It vents through acts of assembly that materialize in certain settings, unavoidably (and so intentionally) destabilized from the start. Instant archiving sends a message, and the message works. Documentation, as the primary activity of sociopoetics, is for the most part the visible work of messaging.

Literary activity (somehow poetry sometimes) implies working the visible work of messaging. The merging of the literary and the social takes place in part in the rendering visible the work of messaging. Knowing the codes and conditions of that work is the first task of sociopoetics.


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