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Jennifer K Dick wrote a piece on Drunken Boat 15 in which she questioned the inclusiveness of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Avant-Garde & Moderism Collection) from Northwestern University Press, indicating “this is a book which contains only a little more than 25% of writings by women”, and also underlining significant authors that are not in the anthology, including Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, Sharon Mesmer, and also “someone like Adeena Karasick as having work which fits well with this collection”.
Jennifer K Dick then went on to ask Adeena Karasick the following question:
Do you see yourself as a potential “conceptual” writer?
Karasick has written a comprehensive statement in response:
First let me commend you on your amazing analysis of the Dworkin/ Goldsmith tome. It is a great book and your reading of it is brilliant. As with any anthology there are gaps. Particularly, perhaps women, in this one. And I thank you for your mention of me in this regard.
For the past 20 years, my work has been focused on incorporating a hyper-generative aesthetic riddled with satire parody, pastiche; sampling and borrowing, cutting, pasting, drawing on the residue of pop culture; providing feminist critiques – not by overt critique but through appropriation and reconfiguration.
Am I a Conceptual Poet?
Well as outlined by master Conceptualist, Kenny Goldsmith, Conceptual writing is that which has been “grabbed, cut, pasted, processed, machined, honed, flattened, repurposed, regurgitated and reframed from the great mass of free-floating language out there just begging to be turned into poetry”.
With that said, some examples of my recent work :
A homolinguistic translation of the Sefer Yetzirah (13th C Kabbalistic text: Book of Formation) in The House That Hijack Built;) A re-purposing of “The Rules” (50’s style dating etiquette handbook (Rules of Textual Etiquette); the repurposing of a flight manual masquerading as a “how-to” guide for textual navigation in “Flight Plan”; the repurposing of a menu, in Amuse Bouche, the listing of concentration camps in The Empress Has No Closure, the reworking of Obama Girl (I Got a Crush on Osama) or Beyonce (Lingual Ladies) – through a neo-formalized, hyperrealist, post-consumerist media-infused transgressive practice, processing and reprocessing
So yes it would seem I am indeed a Conceptual Poet
but also as we know from Derrida, the mark of cirumscission is both a cutting off and into.
So therefore as much as we may “belong” to any given social or aesthetic community, there is a non-belonging a simultaneous exclusion and inclusion.
How can I just be a Conceptualist when as an expat Canadian, Russian Jewish poet, academic, writer performer inscribed with a very lived-in sense of nomadicism, exile; with a deep-rooted fear of commitment, I was born into a second wave of Tish poets on the edge of L=A=N=G=U=G=E via the Kootenay school, on the edge of Canadian and European Sound Poetry; the Four Horsemen, ReSounding, the downtown-Metis shamanistic chanting of bill bissett, in the wake of the Black Mountain where each aesthetic community defining itself with a fervent Olsonic sense of polis.
Framing itself hard between the oral and the written between performance and anti-performance. And so as a pop parody poeoke videopem-maker, a use-your-hands-too-much” Kabbalistic alchemist, Pattern Variant collaborator, you ask, “Are you a Conceptual Poet?”
But in asking, “Do you consider yourself a Conceptual Poet”, one has to ask –
where do the aesthetics begin and the friendships end? How do you continuously (contiguously) belong without belonging in an ever-widening circle of language, production, filiation, power and desire.
So, yes Jen I am a Conceptualist, but for better or worse (and at times like this seems definitely worse) — Am living on the margins of many communities, coexisting with “an-ever widening scope of where letters reside”. Belaunging to a number of heritages, traditions, aesthetics practices;
Belanguing — to an artifice (an edifice) which is informal, polystructural ana-historical collaborative and ideological.
Drawing on the Kindness of Strangers