New Orleans Poetry Festival

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Lavender Interview 

A perceptive and sensitive interview with New Orleans poet/publisher Bill Lavender.

What’s involved here is the very same bias that Zizek speaks of in “The Subject Supposed to Loot and Rape,” his article on the national perception of New Orleans in the wake of Katrina. Or, as Deleuze put it, “If you’re trapped in the dream of the Other, you’re fucked.” We in the South have been trapped in some New Yorker’s dream for some time now. The stereotype has actually gotten worse, I think, in recent times, as the cultural hegemony of New York and California have been eroding and they scramble to bolster the pretense that they still matter…

…The New Orleans scene has waxed and waned since I’ve been involved in it, and the political and generally extra-aesthetic forces that have shaped it would make a very interesting study…. The reason, I think, that MFA programs have flourished to the point of overpopulation of late is that they have attempted to recreate real artistic movements, with the comradery and passion and competitiveness of a real scene but within the artificial environment of the university. MFA programs represent the disneyfication of writing. They are simulacra of real artistic discovery, available only with a paid ticket. It isn’t that nothing good goes on in them (I’ve taught in and directed one myself), but a real movement can only happen outside this system, in the political and economic “real world.”

Source: Lavender Ink Interview | Jacket2

Excerpts from A Field Guide To Trees- Bill Lavender

the night’s young
you’re not

bark
that sensuous brown surface
it grows on trees and barroom walls

compared to this
the passing of the body is nothing

what happens when humanity finally boils

things I imagine saying to the tree
just go

the tree that represents itself has a fool for a client