Friday, June 3, 2011

A couple days ago I received my contributor’s copies of the Capilano Review’s “George Stanley Issue.” Although I missed the launch, I heard that the length of the evening was in direct proportion to the turn out. Seems George has a lot of fans.

After reading my contribution, I began flipping through the issue to see what others had to say on George. The words “Jack Spicer” showed up a lot, as did “Robin Blaser” and “Robert Duncan,” which should come as no surprise, given that these poets are the Holy Trinity of the late-1950s non-Beat San Francisco poetry scene, of which George was an end-stage member.

A piece that stood out was entitled “’What Marks the Changes?’”: George Stanley at The End/The Beginning” by Reg Johanson, a poet/professor who read a gripping suite of poems at the Heavy Industries launch at Spartacus Books a couple weeks back.

Reg’s essay talks about George’s last three books as a chronicle of a world – and the world within us -- increasingly determined by market forces, aided and abetted by neoliberalism. With this (proposition) in mind, I came upon a curious citation of George’s poetry that included a number of Reg’s square parentheses (I assume they are Reg’s), devices we use to make grammatical sense of what we are citing.

The citation looked like this:

“[The newspapers tell us] / how stupid [we] are not to understand / [our] true nature. ‘Born to compete, boys.’ /(‘Born to lose’ [we say]), ‘It’s not just / the bondholders have you by the shorthairs, / it’s your attitude’” (“Abner” At Andy’s 9).

If proper grammar is in the service of the same ideological forces that are reshaping us, has Reg not done to George’s poem what he praises George for revealing, despite the inclusive “we”?

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