The fact that Elisa rejects [surrealism] as essentially "privileged" is exactly the kind of dimissal I am interested in: because it's essentially the kind of rhetoric by which ART ITSELF is often dismissedI don't reject surrealism. I love many surrealist poets. (Kathleen and I spent a while translating Max Jacob's Le Cornet Des.) I don't think the fact that something is privileged makes it bad or worthless as art. Classical music is about as privileged as it gets, I don't reject that either. Most of my hobbies are hopelessly bourgeois, and I think it's OK to acknowledge that. (I draw the line at skiing.)
I do think "surrealist," like "experimental," is a "problematic" term that gets used sloppily. As I wrote in a previous post, "Now that discursive, associative, free-verse lyric poetry is pretty much the norm, it feels like elements of surrealism (the definition is 'Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought') are pervasive." Also: I feel "surrealist staples such as dream logic, collage, collaboration, tragicomic approaches to human existence, and inventive syntax" are present in my own poetry, which has never to my knowledge been called surreal. Why? IDK, you tell me.
Elisa's comment that surrealism doesn't have anything "substantial" is standard expression of this rhetoric/ideologyI have no such ideology. My original comment was: "Unsubstantiated theory: Surrealism is what you write when you have nothing of substance to say." That "Unsubstantiated theory" preface should have been a tip-off that I was just bullshitting. Anyway, I think you can make great art without having "anything of substance to say." For example, I love and have taught Nathan Austin's book Survey Says as an example of conceptual poetry. It's the form alone that's interesting in this book; the text is found (it consists entirely of answers from Family Feud; the poetry is in the systematic arrangement). In conceptual art, the content is usually backgrounded. Most of the time, if you want people to focus on your message, you background the medium.
I think Johannes Goransson is one of the most interesting poets, translators, editors and bloggers in U.S. poetry, but I also think he's a little on the combative side. I am not the enemy, yo.
Update: Johannes reposted his comment on Montevidayo and called it his "usual schtick" [sic], which probably explains why I felt he was talking past me.
I just said on Twitter "Let's disagree to agree." Meaning I'm only arguing here because I don't think we need to argue.