Charles Bernstein on small presses & poetry's social environment
Q: You've always worked with small and alternatives presses. Would you say more about what you think about the importance of the alternative presses?
A: The poem itself doesn’t exist outside of who produces it, what magazine it appears in, how the magazine circulates, who reads it, how they respond to it. All of these things are part of what the poem is. A poem isn't just some abstract letters on a page; it exists within its social environment. And not just the given historical world of jobs and states and family, but the ones we make through our writing, our publishing, our exchanges. The value of poetry is also the value of articulating specific, yet contestable, aesthetic values. And this is achieved by poets publishing their own work and the work of poets they believe in, by responding to the work they value, by organizing reading series and web sites and small presses in order to take control of every aspect of the means of production and reproduction.
Read the rest of the conversation (which ranges over many other topics) here.
Thanks to Josh Corey for pointing to this interview.