Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Poetry as Global Positioning System: A Review of Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry & Public Space by Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand

Here's my review, Poetry as Global Positioning System: A Review of Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry & Public Space by Jules Boykoff and Kaia Sand, in the new issue of Jacket Magazine.
From the final paragraph:

We live at a moment where not only poets, but all of us, risk limiting our rhetorical address to ourselves and those like ourselves. What the guerrilla poets do, by making real the wars abroad, is to suture spaces in the public sphere where once the abyss of abstract political language existed. When the Sidewalk Blogger places the rising numbers of American soldiers dead in Iraq, or when she juxtaposes the names of local cities and Iraqi cities, she participates in the critical act of what Fredric Jameson called “cognitive mapping” — that work of making visible the invisible relations between ourselves and others, at home and abroad. Landscapes of Dissent, and the guerrilla poets it documents and heralds, challenge simultaneously the parochialism of our poetry and our politics, and provide a useful poetic “global positioning system,” by which we might locate ourselves and where we need to go from here.


E. J. McAdams said...


Excellent review! A year or so I was on a roundtable with visual artists who were working in the environmental area. I was the "non-profit" guy as well as the poet. In talking to them two things emerged: 1) that most art interventions were tactical rather than strategic and what we meant by that was that art interventions were bringing attention to a problem rather than really changing it although interventions could often start "strategic" groups (for example, jennifer monson, a dancer, did an "intervention" for lack of a better word at the Ridgewood Reservoir here in Queens and community members inspired by her work decided to protect the Reservoir and incorporated as a non-profit and continue to this day trying to get the city to restore the reservoir the way the community wants it; and 2) that there needed to be some kind of "criticism" for this work that looked at its aesthetics and how successful it was at achieving its "change" aims. Basically to use the tag line of your blog: both "is it good?" and "what did it accomplish?" You are really on to something in this blog. Thanks for writing it.

Here is the giant link to NYFA if you want to read through the roundtable, but know NYFA is probably going to want all of your info sadly.


Philip Metres said...

Thanks, E.J.

It seems as if this sort of art invites us not only off the page and out of the classroom, and not only onto streets, but also into boardrooms and bedrooms as well.