Tuesday, March 01, 2022

Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets part 4

[A hubpost for this sequence may be accessed here: Pages: Reflections on Fictional Poetry and Fictional Poets (1 and hubpost for the sequence) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com) Some of these posts have been incorporated into a prose chapter of my 2023 book, Doubly Stolen Fire, which you may read about, and purchase, here: Pages: Doubly Stolen Fire (a new book of hybrid texts) is now OUT (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)] 

To write more poems for a third volume of fictional poets (after the complexities of the first two, described in a link provided below) would be to concretise the questions in ways I have already. There is no responsibility in mere repetition. While I expand towards the liberating gestures of alterity, my fictional poets are constrained by my many historical limitations, and my conscious choices will constrict their potential chances. My aim was to other myself, not to other Others.

This raises questions about cultural appropriation, which (my co-creators and) I attempted to avoid by the very emphasis upon the Europeanness of our ‘Imaginary Authors’. Only Brexit has caused otherness to erupt between Britain and Europe. While RenĂ© Van Valckenborch is white and heterosexual (though of indeterminate age), and with a Nietzschean touch that makes him deliberately suspect, the members of the EUOIA are less defined in terms of identity, even Poppmeier with her textual extension. To speak of identity in the case of simulacra seems vaguely comical, but these creations are often not specific about race (gender, sexuality, disability) and usually too fleetingly presenced for this to be concretised. To stay with race, as emblematic of other questions of identity, there are two instances where I picked at the edges of Europeanness without, I hope, engaging in blackface (another reason for the ‘European’ scope, and a reason for avoiding minority languages, like Welsh or Manx). The first poet written into being (see yesterday's post) was Turkish Cypriot, deliberately chosen since the Turkish zone of the island is disputed territory; but at the time Turkey was knocking at the door to join the EU (and presumably the EUOIA!). Sandeep Parmar and I concocted a French poet, Carte Vitale, who takes their name from a French social security card which allows French inhabitants to work (exist). An immigrant (‘I think we had it in mind that we would incorporate a poet who was originally from outside Europe,’ Sandeep explained at the Manchester reading of the European Poetry Festival, April 13th 2013), a possible inhabitant of the banlieues, their self-concealed ‘identity’ is thrown into relief by their otherness. These poets’ unfinish, their fragmentary existence, deliberately suggests potentiality, as do their bibliographies. Elsewhere and elsewhither I assume their fulness, inaccessible to me. (Here is a selection from the book at the reading just referred to. It's a wide selection and the last item features Sandeep and the Carte-Vitale poem.) 

Of course, I would hope for a programme of decolonization of the fictional poetry project, but it is unclear what shape this would take at this late stage; it would not be Jason Argleton’s ‘UNPOP’, The United Nations Platform of Poetry, another phantom limb of the EUOIA. (All the poets of the EUOIA are listed (with videos) here: The Poets - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) (weebly.com))    It would have to avoid the appropriation of decolonization by repressive forces as excuses for further repression (See English, Vol 70, which I read with great interest). Recently, I caught a poem on the radio that attempted to teach me that ‘diversity’ is our ‘nationality’, and I feel grateful that my project at least problematises issues without easily ‘resolving’ them. 

For Sophie Poppmeier’s lockdown journal, begin here:  https://robertsheppard.blogspot.com/2021/10/a-fictional-poets-notebook-entry.html

A related piece begins here: Pages: One Off Episode: Transient Global Amnesia and the Fictional Poetry Project (EUOIA and all that) (robertsheppard.blogspot.com)

All these entries may be thought of as the working notes towards the third book of my fictional poets project, after A Translated Man and Twitters for a Lark, which has its own website, EUOIAEuropean Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) - Home (weebly.com) ; this contains a page about Poppmeier too: Sophie Poppmeier (1981-) Austria - European Union of Imaginary Authors (EUOIA) (weebly.com) ) I have no idea whether this will appear in print as a third book, but I'm working on that assumption.

Books one and two are described here: Pages: Celebrate Belgium’s Independence Day with European Union of Imaginary Authors poet Paul Coppens and with Rene Van Valckenborch (robertsheppard.blogspot.com).