How far ‘outside’ is the poetry of diaspora ?

I often wonder at the definition of Outsider Poetry just a little bit, and have made allusions to the poetry of diaspora before now on this blog. Of course the poetry of  alienation/diaspora, be it in the wake of cataclysm, war or economic circumstance is more than just that. The exilic condition forms a thread in world literature that we recognise historically in the poems of the dispossessed, that are so beautifully edited and collected in An Duanaire , for instance.

Blogs and websites dedicated to the dissemination of the poetry of nomadics, meanderings and exile are (and have been) online for a while, even if they comprise a marginalia. The PENs, Arvon, and UBUWEB  amongst others consistently and brilliantly bring forward the voice of the diasporist. For instance, there are manifestos dedicated to the art of poetics grounded in the experience of the writer/artist available on multiple sites, and of course on the International PEN site, (TLRC)

My first experience of reading a diasporist manifesto was in 1995, when I bought The First Diasporist Manifesto by RB Kitaj, I was intrigued by his approach to his art and by the manifesto which  served as the invisible architecture that underpinned his Tate retrospective. I thought to excerpt a short paragraph here to illustrate the condition, from the artist’s  point of view.

‘Nationalism seems awful; it’s track record stinks, but patriotism doesn’t seem half bad. ————On the other hand, if people want their homelands, why not? Partitioned homelands seem better to me than killing each other. My own homeland, America , and my little one , England, offer such strong appearances of peace and freedom that the really odd and peaceful practice of painting spins out my own Diasporic days and years until I can’t sense any other way to go.’  ( By RB Kitaj)

The subject is evidently too great for this blog, thus I have decided to divide the topic into two, (possibly) three sections. I am not going to look at alienation yet, as the issue is highly complex and comprises but one element of outsider art. The fact that alienation is oft met with physical violence further complicates any advance on the problem. The danger for the reader is always to associate diasporism with alienation, when it is but one cause of dispossession and it’s related consequences for the narrative arts, including the translator’s art.

The subtext of this post is how far do we think outsider art is from our experience of reading books of poetics, I believe that the area dedicated to the translation and rights of the poets is no longer a marginalia. I see this on blogs and in debate, unfortunately this is not reflected in what publishers are producing, save in speciality areas such as the poetry societies. The fact that authors have noted that translation merits little in prize-awards , as recently mentioned in relation to the Booker Prize, suggests that the marginalisation occurs at the budgeting level, rather than at the level of popularity displayed by submissions to contests and online anthologies.

We are familiar, as mentioned above, with the poetry of exile – the exilic condition , from sources like An Duanaire, or even Ulysses , that novel is an exile’s song, a recreation of Dublin city in its minutiae by James Joyce, its quite an example of  alienation poetry also !

I  am adding in here an excerpt from Notes Towards a Nomadics Poetics, Pierre Joris blog:

The days of anything static – form, content, state – are over. The past century has shown that anything not involved in continuous transformation hardens and dies. All revolutions have done just that: those that tried to deal with the state as much as those that tried to deal with the state of poetry.

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