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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Camille Paglia on Art / Poetry

Last night I heard Camille Paglia speak here in Kansas City. She was promoting her new book, Break, Blow, Burn, Camille Paglia Reads Forty-Three of the World's Best Poems. I'll share a few thoughts on here presentation & viewpoint.

To start with, she has not trouble speaking her mind. Given her notoriety as a feminist, I thought this would likely shine through, however it didn't. I found her to be thought provoking and I tended to be in agreement with her more often than not in terms of substance.

An example: I agree with her that great art (poetry included) never remains the same. She urged people to go back and review art that they have found strikingly significant in the past and consider what it is saying to them today. Five, ten, or fifteen years later we see it different via our life experiences. I totally agree with this, and while this is not revolutionary or new to me, I appreciated her way of expressing it.

Her view of what makes a good poem centers on the quality usage of language and words of vitality. She prefers the personal read on the page to reading poetry aloud. And I tend to agree that how the poem hangs on the page, its visual presentation is important.

She was highly critical of existing established academic programs these days and maintains that Art belongs to all of humanity, not simply to an elite coterie.

She used "the term"accessible which of course is not the most positive word in my vocabulary and I would not specifically find it necessary to define poetry that for my buck, would stand the test of time.

I glanced at the book, though they were sold out. Mine is expected in on Friday. I was guessing the Plath poem she selected would be Daddy or Lady Lazaruss. It was Daddy.

Ms. Paglia speaks at a 90 mile an hour clip (I kid you not) and it taxes an ADD mind, but I found the experienced to be worthwhile.

I am anxious to get into her specifics in the book and when I do, I'll likely have more to say about it.


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