Farid Matuk               (page 7)
To Claim Great Things for Such a Practice, or, Getting Over

All the new thinking is about the commons, in this it resembles, etc. This thinking is motivated, I assume, by a suspicion that the green zones are becoming ever more exclusive of the middle class and a hope that thinking about cooperation will lead us to cooperation. I welcome this. If it comes to it, I’ll barter the space on my lawn and in my home to strangers in exchange for their skills and resources. I’ll get used to rolling blackouts. I’ll help you dig what needs digging. We may have to accept sewage seeping up through the ground in the backyard, unless you know someone with those big machines that break up the street and someone who can get the gas for the machines and someone knows where to get some big cement pipes to replace the ones that aren’t working down in the ground. Or we could just build a composting toilet, but there'll still be other effluents. If our networks of cooperation stop short of such access and services, we’ll have to find some heavy-duty welcome mats like the ones in the entryways of the chicken place and the gas station to lay over the oozing dirt. And then we’ll sing or write or somehow make our poems anyway. All poems presume connection. "I'll make a poem for you which holds locked up a living voice –/ the key's on your own tongue –" writes Alice Notley in her beautiful poem “1992.” But the ethic I'm interested in may necessarily be first an ethic of withdrawal even as it beckons toward connection, one that occurs prior to any thinking about a commons. I'm interested in an ethic that constructs the poem as an opportunity or invitation for the reader to exercise a protean slip beyond the claim of the address, no mater how friendly or cooperative the address may be. It is at once heartening and terrifying to find what I strive to make already in the poems of Fred Moten, what Thom Donovan calls Moten’s “freedom drive” 7. With Moten's example, if not his grace, I write to preserve this space of permission.8

1 Mercer, Kobena. Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies. New York: Routledge, 1994.
2 Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. New York: New, 2010. Print.
3 Smith, Dale. "The Romantic-Modern Lyric: Poetry for the Non-Poet." Poetry Project Newsletter 206 (2006): 21-22. Jacket. July 2006. Web.
4 Walker, Jefferey. Rhetoric and Poetics in Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000. Print.
5 Duncan, Robert Edward, Robert J. Bertholf, and Albert Gelpi. The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 2004. This quote appears on page 669. Print.
6 Ibid.
7 Donovan, Thom. “A Grave in Exchange for the Commons: Fred Moten and the Resistance of the Object.” Jacket2. April 2011. Web.
8 These comments about my poetics are not grounded in any poem or book I have written. They have cohered after a book, in a backward glance over what I have cobbled together, and they occur before the next book, as I read and take notes toward what I want to learn now.

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