Joe Milutis’s question: see the interview here for my response.
[Image courtesy of Jeremy Mende's Anxious Futurism.]
Milutis: Given this poetry requires a lot of research, is there a sense of regret that such a signature is not enough, and that your filtration process leaves out material that could be used to educate or elucidate? Or does it? Again, maybe the issue is one of the perceived smallness of device: poetic versus, say, prose-journalistic. You’re at an interesting intersection between informational value and poetic value, which are many times seen as completely antithetical.
I notice, too, that your list of the comico-tragic solutions to the BP oil spill has the heading “a taste of regret.” Keeping the same sense of regret as above—the regret for what’s left out, for knowledge that cannot be framed because of constraints of temporality, medium, form—at least the first four terms in this list had the status of buzz-words, calculated as incantations of American can-do. Junk-shot. Corexit. Top-kill. Sea-Brat #4. How do we create our knowledge of an enormous event out of these arguably poetic terms? Or do they block knowledge? Similarly, there is the popular concept of the “talking-point,” which is another tool to wrench out meaning from an enormity. We could say that this phenomenon is something news media shares with poetry, if we think about talking points like “no ideas but in things.” You wouldn’t be able to play with that in “Poetics of Enormity,” and activate an enormous dialogue with Williams in the bargain, if it hadn’t become this take-away line, and hence, ultimately, a kind of flat, unthinking piece of text passed around from agency to agency. So, are these blockages or do they have some enabling capacity? How do you conceive of what you call the “post-slogan?”