A Journal of Contemporary Arts 
Vol. 13, No.2 Copyright 2010 Expansive Poetry & Music Online March 2010

State of the Union

Welcome to Expansive Poetry & Music Online's March issue of the year 2010.   The deliberately misleading headline must have worked.   As to the actual State of the Union, make your own report.   It will probably be a more accurate review than any offered by the White House, Congress, or the press,. none of which are free of an agenda's bias.  Drawing your own conclusions is the high road, and always has been.  We'll be late on articles, so enjoy what you haven't seen, go to links, or read the archives.
Claudia Gary reports that she is hard at working getting the late Richard Moore's work in order.  She had the good fortune that Moore himself assisted in getting his papers to Yale.  We look forward eagerly to the outcomes of her work, which she suggests will take several years to complete. 
Joseph S. Salemi's superb new magazine Trinacria is going into its second issue's production. 
Are you as confused by the new NEA director's example of leadership as we are?  An examination of the NEA charter is probably in order given his novel understanding of what purpose it to be served by this agency.  It doesn't seem likely that it includes the phrase "for disseminating propaganda about the current party in power's legislative agenda."  The co-optation of NGO's and many non-profits for this purpose is scandalous enough. 
There's an oddly inverse proportion between national indebtedness, which has reached mind-boggling proportions, and will probably result in national bankruptcy, and the absence of debt to the history of our art visible in published work.  The emptier the latter is of any reference to past practice, the more the people and the government borrow against the future.   Is there a relationship there?  Is it any surprise that people who think they have an unlimited claim on the future have no anchor in the past?
In the 1970s, when the nation was in similar straits, on the verge of bankruptcy, if not at the federal level, then certainly in cities like New York, there was a surprising revival of American film.   This was the period that brought us a marvelous development, films set in major American cities, particularly in New York.  The old West mythologies had faded in interest, even on television.  Films about the late Vietnam war were hardly in the planning stage yet.  The upper crust fantasies of the 1950s, and other Hollywood grandiosities had nearly bankrupted the old moviemaking kingdom.  Think of Hospital, Prince of the City, Network, Taxi Driver, Serpico, Raging Bull, The Godfather (and its first sequel), and dozens of other films exploring the world as it looked and felt, an American nouvelle vague, a rediscovery of the power of dramatic and very adult scripts driven by circumstances of the present day.  These were not pleasant diversions, but riveting dramas written, directed and acted by some of the most exciting new and old talent in the business.  We could use something similar in verse to escape the dismal possibility that all the work of the Expansive movement won't end up in a neo-Georgian prissiness, a potential very plausible from an overview of publications today.  There's always room for beautiful artifacts, but the need for strong drama, as piercing satire, has rarely been greater.  One can sink in a morass of relativism until nothing is left but a puddle. 
From Luther Fox:  "Credentials are only valuable insofar as they underpin practice in the world, as an engineer confronts a novel bridge crossing with skillful application of mathematics.  The presumption that a credential trumps contingency is one followed by tyrants and fools." 
Page last updated March 1, 2010