What I want to do next with Taverner's Koans, in my alleged overhaul of the entire site:
I want to provide the poetics essays and exercises in the context of fucking poetry character classes. Yes, a la role playing games. Somewhat lilting, sardonic classes -- but still evocative ones that a young writer can respond to. Have it be somewhat absurd, much like the classes at Kingdom of Loathing (seal-clubber, disco bandit, sauceror, etc.). So a teaching track would involve various sets of lessons, poets to read, and exercises geared towards, but not exclusionary to, a particular beginning poets' inclinations, with the understanding that if one comes from x end of the spectrum, it is often very very useful to read broadly in works from the y end of the spectrum.
The fact is that there are so many subcommunities that are talking past each other that have little concourse with each other. Unfortunately, the only way in most of the academy involves what has somehow been inculcated (individual teachers' idiosyncracies notwithstanding) as the "right" way, usually based on concretion of representational language, in the intro to poetry workshop. Not horrible in of itself per se, but it can lend itself to massive gaps in one's awareness of the very existence of wide swaths of poetic exploration and yes experimentation.
(Should one "convert" students to writing epistemologically tenuous and fraught poems hyperaware of the uber-stamp of capital on any linguistic system? As much as a teacher should "convert" students to writing stable-first person, "sentences with line breaks" rememberances of their grandmothers.)
However (as I'm probably going forward pissing everyone off) the problem with the talk about disassembling the workshop is that there's been precious little proposed in the way of an alternate community. The only way to engage with wide swath of ephebe poets is to, well, engage with them. You don't have to start with "simple" poetry and then hope. Working towards true democratic models of the learning of poetry is certainly hard work. But 80% of which involves reading. So it should be relatively straightforward to point out a series of matrices for a poet to follow, along with the encouragement to go matrix jumping as one pleases.
In other words, yes, to go back to the rpg parlance, multiclassing.
Of course all of this is easier if one has a "scene" to fall into. But the website is pretty much designed for those who are too far away from scenes.
A side goal of this project would be to recussitate, and fetter out, interesting and honorable practitioners of the narrative lyric. They're out there, I'm pretty sure.
The second stage would actually involve creating online "guild homes" for community and fellowship.
A few with a Language-poetry proclivity might contend that this is all a trifle, a distraction from the real work of poetry, a fake kind of happy relativism that does too much to gratiate to students' unfounded ideas about poetry. But it goes back to the Buddhist idea that I've been yammering on about, about the relativity between relativity and phenomenon. None of these paths inherently has a lack of rigor or attentiveness tied into them. It's way too draining to go through life thinking that 90% of the poets out there are abhorrently mistaken. The vast majority of us are going to write unloved poems. In other words, to quote from an interview that Language poet and Zen priest Norman Fischer gave:
JW: It's dicey to make comparisons, but perhaps Gary Snyder was right when he said to me, "Well, I think these critical theorists could have a lot to learn from madhyamika emptiness philosophy."
NF: Yes. They could learn to be sweeter, and simpler, and more relaxed.
As to why...? omg d00d, why the fuck not? Can it be any worse than the collegiate workshop model? (not that it doesn't have moments). Can it be any more asinine-sounding than "New Brutalism"? (not that good work isn't published under that aegis). Let young poets see their role in the poet world as a role, rather than an involiate landlocked part of their identities. Lending itself towards a sense of play, a play with allegiences. This can give a banister, not a straightjacket, so that there can be a multitude of pedagogical approaches that can coexist happily. Er, or at least without killing each other...
So Josh, Aaron, and all those other ex-gaming poets out there--and I know you're out there!--hook me up with some frameworks!
Besides, when you're trashed at a boring writing party, how much better would it be to say, "I'm a 5th level Black Mountaineer/2nd level Beat." Groovy!