By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions


two posts down. 28 to go. nablogwrmo is kicking my butt! please keep your comments coming. april indeed is the bloggiest month.

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.


gary reads criticism. and it tells him things. i write lots of criticism (reviews mostly, tho a few essays here and there) and it never tells me anything! i feel robbed. i write criticism because i need to practice my english sentences. and if i telos that i want to have these sentences published, then it makes me more concentrated.

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

gary says his criticism of the not-to-be-named book from below would be: “This kind of poetry—the ‘epiphanic experience poem’–frankly exoticizes everything about the experience itself. It seems inevitable that writing about his experience via this particular, already-exoticizing form would result in the exoticization of the Kuman people.”

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

but does the ‘epiphanic experience poem’ (EEP) always exoticize everything? can one have a non-exoticizing epiphany? i think so. i think of barbara’s poeta, many epiphaniac moments, but none of the attendant exoticisms.

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

gary asks: “How much of ______’s exoticization proceeds from his world-view, and how much proceeds from his idea of what poetry, or rather Poetry with a capital P, is supposed to be and do? Because, while I don’t know the answer, my suspicion is that it’s a bit of both.”

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

i think that one’s world view & one’s idea of what poetry is supposed to be & do actually form eachother. so i agree it’s both but it was already both before.

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

then something interesting he says: “Had he approached his childhood memories via a more investigative or interrogative approach to poetry, I have the gnawing feeling that it might have resulted in a more investigative or interrogative approach to his own subject position and his attitudes or thoughts about the people he writes about.”

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

this is tougher: does method determine subjectivity, or does subjectivity determine method? obviously, i think they are intertwined, like twine. in conclusion, i think it’s possible to maintain epiphany and resist exoticism.


i wrote the above before reading nicholas’ comments in the post below. nicholas’ rightly calls me on my use of ‘drivel’ (as in ‘adrivel’) and precises it as ‘ideation’. bringing into relief saint john perse and aime cesaire i think really helps this discussion. he describes how cesaire “tears apart this ecstatic, entirely epiphanic register to show what is under it.”

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

interestingly, both perse and cesaire work within the ‘epiphanic register’. Reading perse’s “Amers” (“Seamarks” in the translation i have) with cesaire’s “notebook on a return…” i think would be an interesting exercise and prove exactly what nicholas claims above. we might ask, what is the difference between a ‘colonizing epiphanic register’ and a ‘decolonizing epiphanic register’?

we might say that the ‘colonizing epiphanic register’ goes “in for the exoticizing, ideational tendency” (manning, 2008), then how might we describe the tendencies of a ‘decolonizing epiphanic register’?

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.

nicholas asks: “is ______ just so emotionally and autobiographically attached to this particular type of poignancy – his own memory, his own experience, this particular ostranenie – that it becomes difficult for him to see why his telling of these things, in this way, would appear to others as imbued with a deep historical and identitarian unreality?”

yes i said yes i will yes.

finally, nicholas writes: “Now, Myth is perhaps fine, if it is recognized as personal and limiting, problematic and partial: in short, if it is myth which questions its origins and contexts.

Myth which does not do this is ineluctably, and immediately, Ideology.”

this is quite beautiful to me. and something i think cesaire does interestingly good. as well as HD, Duncan, and Mackey–my three favity mythmakers.

By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions.


WARNING: if your comment is wrapped in a white pointy hat of anonymity, it will be promtly deleted.

WARNING 2: i will delete all comments that mention the author or book from below. i will only discuss the larger more important ideas brought up by barbara, paolo, gary, & nicholas.



7 thoughts on “By the way, the natives are people, too, with real, complex emotions

  1. So, what you’re saying is that we have to keep popping in here if we want you to keep writing … sort of like pay-per-view, but in this instance more like pop-in-per-view?

    Well, okay then.

    Here’s my top-of-the-pop-in request: Since I am fairly convinced that the epiphanic mode (a mode, I should warn you, that I loathe, hate, find repellent, abhor, dislike intensely, despise, look down upon contemptuously, can’t stand, and nearly always avoid reading at all costs) exoticizes experience, I would most like to see a poem in that mode that does not do this, with a discussion about why it’s not doing that.

    It would be nice if you could find one that I actually might like, too, but I am betting $0.25 (USD) that you can’t.

    Please take on this challenge!

  2. Great challenge from Mr S! I suggest a Cesaire poem, ideally in an Eshleman translation, if that’s handy, but then again it’s not my blog . . . 😉

    By the way, my prediction is that Gary will perhaps say “that’s not epiphanic, it’s good!”, while perhaps Craig and I will say “that’s epiphanic and good!” I’m taking bets . . .

    In short, I suspect there does exist a positively ‘decolonizing epiphanic register’ (Perez 2008)

    The western lyric heritage is maybe a baby, but perhaps not bathwater.

  3. i’m not sure why but i don’t think i am totally clear on what poetry in epiphanic mode means though i am pretty sure i know what epiphany means.

    i’m currently reading haunani kay trask’s light in the crevice never seen, and maybe that would apply here? trask and/or her speaker isn’t/aren’t having spontaneous epiphanies as the poems occur, though the poems themselves are i believe meant to reveal something of the native hawaiian struggles for sovereignty, environment justice, et al to us/readers, via both micro/individual and macro/community/historical examinations of the people’s lives. and regarding the “exoticizing” you guys are talking about, trask has no need for this given her longtime experiential knowledge of the people, place, objects/artifacts in her poems, i.e. their everyday use and familiarity to her/her speaker.

    does that count as poetry in “epiphanic” mode? because if so, i believe there are many good examples of this. i am thinking also of sesshu foster’s city terrace field manual (the individual poems and the entire project).

  4. i was thinking similar things barbara.

    perhaps ‘ecstatic’ is better than ‘epiphanic’.

    what’s important though is that it’s a mode of the lyric, and the lyric can still be self-aware and self-critical.

    at least i think it can . . .


  5. I think of the epiphany mode of being as much about fiction as poetry, with Joyce’s Dubliners usually seen as the text that creates the 20th century epiphany story, which conventionally ends with a moment of recognition on the part of a central character.

    I don’t know about poetry here, but I think the Joyce stories might be an answer to Gary’s challenge. The epiphanies in many of them involve recognitions on the part of the characters of their material, social, and cultural conditions. But probably I’d say The Dubliners goes both ways: the epiphany involves a strange momentary distance from experience that perhaps exoticizes it ( or at least “makes it strange”) while simultaneously demolishing the characters’ abilities to wish themselves outside of material conditions.

  6. thanks for commenting mark. i love what you say the both-ways of the epiphany.

    but i dont know if you’ll have much luck getting that quarter from gary 🙂


  7. I am tempted to give Mark a quarter, because I agree with what he’s saying about Joyce. However, I will not actually give him a quarter, as the stories in Dubliners are fiction, not poetry.

    The Carlos Bulosan that Barbara posted isn’t going to get a quarter out of me either; it’s an anthem (overdetermined and loving it), not an epiphany (overdetermined pretending to be underdetermined).

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