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Poetry is Not a Project

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In a style much like her poetry—expansive, vulnerable, and never without fire—Dorothea Lasky delivers a theory of writing based as much in the Humanist tradition as Hermeticism. Calling poets away from civilization, back towards the wilderness, Lasky brazenly urges artists away from conceptual programs, resurrecting imagination and faith-in-the-uncertain as saviors from me In a style much like her poetry—expansive, vulnerable, and never without fire—Dorothea Lasky delivers a theory of writing based as much in the Humanist tradition as Hermeticism. Calling poets away from civilization, back towards the wilderness, Lasky brazenly urges artists away from conceptual programs, resurrecting imagination and faith-in-the-uncertain as saviors from mediocrity.


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In a style much like her poetry—expansive, vulnerable, and never without fire—Dorothea Lasky delivers a theory of writing based as much in the Humanist tradition as Hermeticism. Calling poets away from civilization, back towards the wilderness, Lasky brazenly urges artists away from conceptual programs, resurrecting imagination and faith-in-the-uncertain as saviors from me In a style much like her poetry—expansive, vulnerable, and never without fire—Dorothea Lasky delivers a theory of writing based as much in the Humanist tradition as Hermeticism. Calling poets away from civilization, back towards the wilderness, Lasky brazenly urges artists away from conceptual programs, resurrecting imagination and faith-in-the-uncertain as saviors from mediocrity.

30 review for Poetry is Not a Project

  1. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    "I want this century to be full of people who write poems, not full of poets who conduct projects and do nothing more." There is plenty to disagree with in Dorothea Lasky's pocketable manifesto from UDP. And that is its virtue. This is a canny invitation to talk about intention, process, and quality in poetry. An invitation through Lasky's direct, open language and the brevity of the pamphlet itself (14 quarter pages). Lasky isn't riveting together the panels of an iron clad case or qualifying he "I want this century to be full of people who write poems, not full of poets who conduct projects and do nothing more." There is plenty to disagree with in Dorothea Lasky's pocketable manifesto from UDP. And that is its virtue. This is a canny invitation to talk about intention, process, and quality in poetry. An invitation through Lasky's direct, open language and the brevity of the pamphlet itself (14 quarter pages). Lasky isn't riveting together the panels of an iron clad case or qualifying her points into nothing through academic speak. And for these reasons this should be required reading for anyone trying to sort out what they're doing through poems. What do I think of what Lasky says? The easy misreading is that she is attacking "conceptual poetry," yet she praises flarf and uses as her example a serial ekphrastic project, which is the go to for more traditional poets when they want to write beyond the lyric narrative or birds or whatev. So clearly she is defining "project" in a rather expansive sense. What strikes me as critical (and what I'd love to hear back from by you) is this: "If a project does not get to a real poem, then it is not that important to your work because it generates nothing. The problem I am pointing out in this pamphlet is that just because you have constructed a project does not mean you have written a poem. You can plan a party, but you have to make the people show up for it to really be a party. Any other way, all you have created is just a decorated empty room." Is this to say, the writing process dictated by the concept must leave room for the poet to exercise their powers of intuition and the outcomes of this intuitive act must be successful (successful? significant?)--that it is vital for us as readers to pay close attention, above all, to these intuitive leaps, to have a stake in them--to be thrilled or disappointed by their outcomes? Is this the difference between pleasurable engagement and pleasing contemplation? Either way, it is right and good to affirm the reader's need to hate and love what is going on in a poem. Either way, what is ultimately provocative is the call for a return to engagement with a how a poet puts a singular poem together as opposed to critical discourse's obsession over the principles which inform how certain groups make poems. It is also a call to party, hard. I can get on board with that--even as I finish up with my buddy Chad something that can only be described as a "project" about The Container Store. In particular, I'd like to think that the damning "and do nothing more" of the first quote extends to both the interior of the poem and the exterior reaches of the poets life. What they do in the world beyond conducting projects. I'd like to think the moments of intuition in a poem are only made possible via an intuitive/intentional engagement with the exterior world--one's social praxis. (So hey, what does DL mean by 'Habitus'? I'm not clear on this). So perhaps there are "projecty" types of procedures such as C.A. Conrads somatic experiments that dispose one toward attending to the interiors of one's work. Wait, have I gotten to the end of a review again without really saying anything? Dammit. Read Poetry Is Not A Project, ok?

  2. 5 out of 5

    rosalind

    [022220 / read for poetry projects] Makes You Think

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jose Alexander

    Múltiples voces que se alinean en torno a un solo mensajes que mezcla lo cotidiano con lo personal, lo sentimental y lo espiritual sin que estás partes ensucien a las otras. Siendo más concreto se da una muestra de la obra de la autora pasando por toda su poética de modo cronológico (mostrando la madurez y al mismo tiempo la insistencia de la autora por ciertos temas, ciertas imágenes que persisten) y el conjunto cierra con un breve ensayo respecto a qué es la poesía, qué debería serlo y qué debe Múltiples voces que se alinean en torno a un solo mensajes que mezcla lo cotidiano con lo personal, lo sentimental y lo espiritual sin que estás partes ensucien a las otras. Siendo más concreto se da una muestra de la obra de la autora pasando por toda su poética de modo cronológico (mostrando la madurez y al mismo tiempo la insistencia de la autora por ciertos temas, ciertas imágenes que persisten) y el conjunto cierra con un breve ensayo respecto a qué es la poesía, qué debería serlo y qué debería buscar. En este último punto no podría estar más de acuerdo: al final se trata de una expresión cuanto menos abstracta sobre una serie de momentos que se quedan como estampillas pegados en el espíritu y que a través de las palabras intentan descifrarse, o no. Como agregado, la bonita edición a cargo de la pequeña editorial Overol intercala una serie de imágenes que insisten con el contraste, que insisten con un desenfoque de la mirada, con un mirar desde lejos, sin por esto, tener más certeza sobre nada.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    from Poetry is Not a Project by Dorothea Lasky: "Real poetry is a party, a wild party, a party where anything might happen. A party from which you may never return home."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Wryly

    YES. I want to meet this person.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Chris Schaeffer

    If poetry is not a project, why are my hands covered in paste and glitter? Ball's in your court, Lasky.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

    Interesting but too brief to be all that convincing. There's also something that always rubs me the wrong way about someone speaking about how others are doing something "wrong" that invalidates their work, i.e. if you speak about it like that, it's not poetry / if you're using that, it's not sculpture, etc.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Boris Farías Hunt

    Hermoso. "Thunderbird" y "Roma" son los que más me gustaron. Los ensayos son entretenidos, y las contradicciones producen más una risa cómplice que una ira reprochable. La edición a cargo de Daniela Escobar está espectacular. "Llegas en un avión Y aterrizas chocando contra el pavimento "

  9. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Montoya

    Esta edición es bellísima, ella es una de mis poetas favoritas, un gran descubrimiento de este año, amo la libertad de sus palabras creyentes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Camozzi

    Un ensayo sobre la poesía, o prosa poética, o poema en prosa: Lasky dice lo suyo con claridad y belleza, más allá de los géneros.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bárbara

    Lo que más me gustó fue la serie de ensayos del final sobre por qué la poesía no es un proyecto. La edición es hermosa.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Molly

    "Nowadays critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a 'project,' but I don't think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth and into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain. I think a poet intuits a poem and scientists conduct a 'project.'" "I don't think Emily Dickinson gave a damn about a project. The word const "Nowadays critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a 'project,' but I don't think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth and into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain. I think a poet intuits a poem and scientists conduct a 'project.'" "I don't think Emily Dickinson gave a damn about a project. The word constricts the immense body of work she has left us." "Because sometimes when I hear a poet talking about his so-called projects, I see him flying high above his poems." "After the reading, people talked to him about his project and in general, most people liked the ideas behind it, as did I. No one talked to him about his poems. His poems were not important to his project. His project was important to his project. Everything that mattered was in the idea." "The problem I am pointing out, I guess, when I tell you that poetry is not a project, is the problem that a good deal of my own poetry writing idols use projects as generative forces in their poems. But the poems were the most important parts of the whole thing." "What differentiates a great poet and a not-great one is the capacity to exist in that uncertain space, where the grand external world (which means anything and everything) folds into the intense internal world of the individual." "When people talk about poetry as a project, they suggest the road through a poem is a single line." Blog post on this essay: http://mapsandpoetry.blogspot.com/201...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    Much of this resonated with me, as I've never described my poetry as part of a project, and it has always felt like a stigma to not have one. (Maybe now that will not be the case?) Up until a couple years ago, when I stopped caring about how to describe my poems and what others might think of that description (also when I started to understand them, and what I wanted to do with them, better), I used to feel somewhat ashamed not to have a project. One colleague asked me what my poems were about. Much of this resonated with me, as I've never described my poetry as part of a project, and it has always felt like a stigma to not have one. (Maybe now that will not be the case?) Up until a couple years ago, when I stopped caring about how to describe my poems and what others might think of that description (also when I started to understand them, and what I wanted to do with them, better), I used to feel somewhat ashamed not to have a project. One colleague asked me what my poems were about. I said, I don't know. Me? Nothing in particular? He replied, Well they have to be about something! In a way, he's right, and I think my poems are about something, but also I was like, whatever! Who cares how we label them? Let's just read them! All of which is to say that I welcome the argument that Lasky makes here, which is essentially that the word "project" limits what poems do and how they can be heard. "Naming your intentions is great for some things, but not for poetry. Projects are bad for poetry," she writes. "Being able to talk about the process of your work as a poet can sometimes breed its mediocrity -- to be that detached." There's a lightness to the tone here -- the concluding idea is that poetry is a party -- that works both with and against the impact of what's being said. And it must be said that this pamphlet is a beauty to hold, a pleasure to rub fingertips over its cover.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vicky

    Read it on Ugly Duckling Presse here. ========================= "Nowadays, poetry critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a 'project,' but I don't think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain." "A poet with a nameable project seems wise, and better than other poets wi Read it on Ugly Duckling Presse here. ========================= "Nowadays, poetry critics and scholars often refer to an entire body of work by one poet as a 'project,' but I don't think poems work that way. I think poems come from the earth and work through the mind from the ground up. I think poems are living things that grow from the earth into the brain, rather than things that are planted within the earth by the brain." "A poet with a nameable project seems wise, and better than other poets with unnameable ones. But this kind of thinking strikes me as a load of BS that nobody wants to acknowledge as such. I think that if you really are a poet, you don't think this is how poetry works." "If a project does not get to a real poem, then it is not that important to your work because it generates nothing. The problem I am pointing out in this pamphlet is that just because you have constructed a project does not mean that you have written a poem. You can plan a party, but you have to make the people show up for it to really be a party. Any other way, all you have created is just a decorated empty room. You can blast the music as loud as you want to, but if there is no one there to dance to it, there will be no dancing." √ + + +

  15. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    This little book makes an argument about poetry that is fun to read and discuss in drawing rooms. It says like okay basically when you do a poem you just have to DO IT, you know, but not as if you were doing a science project. I think it's a risky position because a lot of people do do poems like science and well those are okay. Still I am glad someone is taking a position on poetry and I hope to see more. And this book is so handsome too, letterpressed and with cool drawings of kids.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Great short read, available as a free eBook (ePamphlet?) online. Concise & straightforward language about poetry & its intentions that does more than just skim the surface of what it means to write and explore poetry in only a few short sections. Great short read, available as a free eBook (ePamphlet?) online. Concise & straightforward language about poetry & its intentions that does more than just skim the surface of what it means to write and explore poetry in only a few short sections.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Zack

    Such a great essay...clear and inspiring...and now you can read it online for free! http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/cat... Such a great essay...clear and inspiring...and now you can read it online for free! http://www.uglyducklingpresse.org/cat...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I liked this and it made me think a lot: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harri... I liked this and it made me think a lot: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/harri...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Vincent

    I agree with 87% of this.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    A short, interesting read. I was half-asleep while reading it, so I am sure I didn't absorb enough of its goodness.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Carrie Lorig

    best bankrupt cake i've ever had.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Savoca

    this is so yes. dottie is a yes.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nazifa Islam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gabriela Luzzi

  26. 5 out of 5

    Joost Baars

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andrés Andrés Andrés

  28. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael

  30. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

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