Lucas de Lima responds to a board member of VIDA with his Note on Gringpo Provincialism:
"In the aftermath of my post on the baroque below, a board member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts accused me of ‘reducing’ my issue to identity.
This person, who works for a key literary venue, said my focus on identity had ‘thoroughly’ persuaded them out of a line of thought that might otherwise have been interesting. They also quoted Marxist theory on me.
Too bad it wasn’t an isolated incident. This is a bias I encounter all the time in writers who claim to have supposedly ‘progressive’ politics.
Experimental U.S. poetry culture, especially, pats itself on the back for privileging some poets—the ones most legible in terms of their political causes—while ignoring others who sound like ‘strange almost English’ (another comment I fielded yesterday).
¿Pero que dices? Are we mongrels just too baroque to bear?
One senses an acute xenophobia in US-American poets’ underestimation of the relationship between identity and form, and the way aesthetics that have flourished outside the US get written out of the mainstream, the experimental, and the political.
Of course, this privileging of legibility and dismissal of the foreign must take turns waving the same tattered flag. As tendencies that work hand in hand, they exhaust gringo poetry at the twilight of a superpower, cornering it into its least visceral, mystical, and transformative space.
“North American experimentalism became a fine jewelry shop.” -Heriberto Yépez (trans. Guillermo Parra)
They’re the two sides of the avant-garde/mainstream exceptionalist comfort zone I’m calling Gringpo Provincialism.
A literary jingoism desperate for its baroque death.”