Bad or Boring: Doing Without Ethics in Poetry


WEIRD SISTER

Hi guys. I’ve noticed something about the word boring.

I noticed it most recently in discussions about Kenneth Goldsmith’s performance of his version of the St. Louis County autopsy report for Michael Brown. Many people responded with outrage to Goldsmith’s appropriation and objectification of Brown’s body (see the above link to Rin Johnson’s piece and Amy King’s piece asking “Is Colonialist Poetry Easy?”, among others); many of them saw his performance as symptomatic not only of an individual poet’s bad taste or careless sense of entitlement, but of the inherently white supremacist values of avant-garde poetry specifically and the American literary world in general (values that Cathy Park Hong brilliantly exposes in “Delusions of Whiteness in the Avant-Garde,” and that the Mongrel Coalition Against Gringpo continues to critique and rage against and lampoon). Goldsmith’s performance, many of these critiques point out, is a logical extension of a position he outlined in…

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