Anne Waldman

These are some earlier notes on Anne Waldman’s Outrider and a few of my reasons for reading it. Continuing, I will excerpt from the second and third pieces in the book, and bold the phrases which most strike me. This reading is turning me slightly Buddhist.

The term “OUTRIDER,” says Waldman, was adopted in part to define a poetics “outside the official verse literati culture academic mainstream” and “resistant to the ‘institutionalization’ of creative writing.” (39) She speaks of her poetic community as a temporary autonomous zone and an “open system.” (40)

She speaks as well of a poetics of ‘plurality’: “There is a sense of plurality vs. dominance.” (43)

“…much of the avant-garde reads as elitist, operating within very specific language and economic codes, and where the arenas are MLA conferences, literature and creative writing ‘departments,’ Barnes and Noble bookstores and the like.” (45)

How does one cut through to the ‘real work,’ or are we so entwined with the confusions and mistakes of our so-called lineages that time must be spent in analyses, ‘processing’ and corrections? Who speaks for me?” (46)

“…an alternative mode of education that would actualize a contemplative, non-competitive atmosphere… (47)

“‘Satori,’ or the blast that comes from a flash of recognition of human and planetary frailty, was experienced in [Kerouac’s] case outside the usual ‘epiphany’ you find in subject-matter poetry.” (51)

“We wanted something vital, difficult outside the official verse culture academic mainstream.” (51)


7 thoughts on “Anne Waldman

  1. I’m inspired to distinguish here between Buddhist religious practice, which as a whole is not particularly concerned with ethical imperatives like plurality, and the literary practices of Western writers like Kerouac when inspired by Buddhism. Without erasing the line between the religion and its appropriations across cultures, we can observe how Buddhism was appropriated in the service of a radical sense of interconnectedness. This interconnectedness, which resists the subjective (and frequently egoistic) connotations of epiphany, is what gives satori its subject and its beauty.

  2. Greetings René and thank you for this comment! And – yes – “inspired by” is key. Although Waldman is much more seriously Buddhist than Kerouac from what I am able to gather.

    Plurality as an ethical imperative. If I were in Philosophy I might know why it is one.

    I am now interested in figuring out distinctions between epiphany and satori, their relations or distinction to the idea of ‘jouissance,’ etc. etc.: ways of slipping out of/beyond that everyday I.

    Nice distinction between epiphany and satori. A radical sense of interconnectedness: is this then both a Western project and also part of the original sense of satori (and yes, I realize this is a very plodding question)?

  3. Plurality, as I understand it, is closely related to the ethics of difference, and the textual ethic of différance, as they have gradually been articulated by post-structuralists like Derrida.

    I think there are versions of the satori experience in Western cultures; for example, coming out of Romanticism, via a lineage that incorporates such figures as Thoreau and empties into such contemporary movements as environmentalism.

  4. Aha! I still have to figure out why difference and différance are ethics as opposed to [anything else, or I am not sure what].

    Différance: so, I just read some hard core Derrida, in kind of a hard core way, for the first time since graduate school, and I may finally be starting to get it. See – y’all!

  5. Tenacity has always been the key to survival because a poet needs to eat. How does one go about that? Become a spy? Diplomat? Teacher?

    Kamau Brathwaite was castigated by demigods @ UWI because of his poetry–they felt he should be doing more than paying attention to this “poetry business.”

    So how do you straddle the academy (source of de monay) and your own path, Buddhist or otherwise?

  6. That is funny and marvelous about Brathwaite! And ‘demigods’ – this is about right … and this is exactly the comment I needed to get at this moment.

    How do you straddle the academy and your own path: first, by recognizing that they are two different things (my own error has often been not doing this). My answer for this morning is about respect: one of the things the academy does is give you s***, you have to lasso 19 year olds all day while avoiding being lassoed by demigods. I find it demoralizing and I internalize all the lassoing. Ultimately I find I am trying to lasso myself. This is unadvisable.

    A mantra to remind myself that my own path is not exactly the same as the university’s is useful!

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