Thursday, August 11, 2005

On Being Misunderstood, Part 3

Tony wrote:

There is a growing group of poets who position themselves outside the mainstream poetry establishment but who are also unsatisfied with existing accepted models of comportment, poetics, distribution, and so forth. We identify with much of the thinking and methods of the so-called "post-avant" but turn our noses up at the sterility of so much of the poetry being written (and praised) outside of the mainstream. We want our poetry to have soul. We want to read writes with soul, wit, and feeling.

We use process as a means to an end. The end is the poem as act of communication. Process in itself is seldom interesting.

Or at least *I* think these things. Other New Sincerists can chime in at will.

I'm chiming in to concur with the above and explain why I consider myself to be a new sincerist.

On occasion my poems (and me for that matter) have been considered insincere. Since I am sometimes naive to the minds and thinkings of others, this always shocks me. This especially haunted me last year when I wrote a poem for a new friend. He responded saying he was "searching and searching for traces of the jaded but it appeared sincere."

That fucking hurt my feelings. I never did or said anything that would lead him to think I'd write something insincere. Least of all for him. Yes I tease people, yes I make smart remarks, yes, sometimes I use sarcasm, yes I sometimes use humor or "wit" in my poetry, but I am never insincere. If I'm teasing you, I probably like you and I think the way I tease it is pretty obvious I'm not being mean. I was teased mercilessly in elementary and middle school and you know what? Those kids sincerely loved me!

But clearly it's not obvious to some people. Neither in my work or with me.

For over a year I've been trying my best to be conscious of this in both my writing and my actions. I know I contribute to this misunderstanding, but also the current climate of poetry contributes to this. People expect insincerity and are often suspicious when they're given something that's not. So they "search and search" for insincerity because they find it such a leap to believe someone is offering a little geniune feeling.

So I am being obvious and direct. My poetry is sincere. Yes, my poems really do feel that way. Sometimes I do too.

You got a problem with that?


At 6:37 PM, Blogger Tony said...

I think part of the new sincerity is making poetry matter again. Making us feel (as Laurel said) about poetry like we did when we were 16. (For me, though, this is inaccurate. I didn't read poetry when I was 16.)

Poetry is not, primarily, an intellectual exercise for me. I want to read poetry that makes me feel the same way I feel when I'm in love. That rush, that excitement, that giddy thing.

At 7:49 PM, Blogger C. Dale said...


I know that feeling. It is the feeling I get when I discover a new poet and put their poems aside to read over and over. It is almost like hiding them for a couple of weeks before turning them over to Middlebury with a request for a contract. In those couple weeks, it is like having a love affair with those poems. I know I want them but say I need to read them a few more times to make sure. But in reality, I know I am going to publish them, and for a couple weeks, they are all mine! I know. I am a sick bastard.


Jeez. You are so insincere. ;) Wish you were going to be in Vegas this weekend with us.

At 10:46 PM, Blogger Reb said...

C. Dale, I sincerely wish I was going to Vegas with you guys too. Next year, I'm telling you, I'm packing my sequins and false (yet still sincere) eyelashes.

At 11:19 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Tony, I like the idea of the newness of feeling. I want poems to feel like kissing somebody for the first time. And I want that feeling everytime I read the poem.

At 11:34 PM, Blogger Sr. Bou said...

Unfortuntately we live in a society in which people expect deceit, unfortunately because people are deceitful themselves. The more deceitful they are they more they expect other people to be so... My life is littered with tons of instances with people to whom I am being completely sincere and yet, they don't believe you. You can try to help them, and they are so paranoid they are looking for the backstab. Fortunately I have friends and family who are not that way. I also don't treat people that way. I trust everyone who I choose to interact with until they fuck me. After that, they are toast. It also means I am very picky about who I interact with and I usually I sniff out most of these pricks. It's uncanny how I can tell after a very little interaction. Unfortunately my fuckster radar isn't infallible, otherwise I wouldn't be in the process of suing a jerk right now for fucking me over in a cash deal. Rule #1 don't fuck with my money. Rule #2 refer to fucking rule #1.

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Reb said...

Ivan, your money is your poems. So in that context, I understand.

At 10:06 PM, Blogger jane said...

"And I'm not talking about the New Sincerity, of course, but rather Post-Irony. Or maybe it's the Pseudo-New-Sincerity, or New Pseudo-Sincerity, or maybe it's Pseudo-Post-Irony. I don't even know anymore." -- and that's from 1993, from a musician frgodsakes. The New Sincerity is almost old enough to drink.

At 11:13 PM, Blogger Tony said...

Well, whatever. We're not trying to take over your town.


Besides, I'm one of the soulless motherfuckers who was excited for the Pixies reunion.

At 11:58 PM, Blogger Reb said...

I'm one of those soulless motherfuckers who loves Bon Jovi's "This Left Feels Right" -- the album where they remake their own songs. For real, yo.

At 2:53 PM, Blogger andy mr. said...

The New Sincerity is necessary because of snarky bullshit like "Jane's" comment. Go have a drink on us.

At 5:16 PM, Blogger Tony said...


That sounds tight! If it's anything like Greatest Palace Music, I'm on it!!!

(And I'll tell Tost about it too..)


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