Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Inflectionism begins

Inflectionism, a collective of three Portland poets (A. Molotkov, Shawn Austin, and myself) with a new outlook, perspective, and goal for contemporary poetry, is beginning to take roots. After a brainstorm and website development meeting that weaned well into the AM, a structure and aims were born. It's a very exciting concept whose implementation will be rewarding...Here's what we have so far:

Inflectionism is a poetic movement that grew out of discussions among three Portland poets who were seeking a more organic poetry that respected both poet and reader, both words and interpretation . We don’t seek to control the definition of Inflectionism but to encourage other poets to make up their own definitions. Our definitions are merely roots.

White Space

The concept of white space involves far more than the physical strategy- striking a healthy balance between black and white, text and vacancy. Words themselves require room to breathe. Images should remain wet cement. Concepts and emotions reside in the gray area of interpretation, the interplay of meaning and translation. In other words, the substance of poetry develops from achieving a delicate balance of text and not text, of stating what you mean without stating your intent, of white space not just around but also within the words you use.

Inflectionism does not support ambiguity for its own sake, much like art for art’s sake. At heart, poetry is an intimate conversation between the writer and reader. Beyond that, it accepts the reader’s part in the process and encourages connections deeper than mere recognition, understanding, and response. Too much poetry, perhaps most, seems composed with the audience’s reaction in mind. Keep the audience in mind, surely, but why dictate its response? If every reader has the same experience of a poem, the poet has failed at one of the most fundamental tasks of writing- to encourage dialogue, not demand attention via diatribe.

Inflecting suggests grasping what has come before and redefining it, refocusing it, placing it upon a different point in the arc thereby changing its trajectory. No poetic movement has wrongly defined the art of writing; they all provide philosophical stances and unique foundations upon which to build a real relationship with a reader. Inflectionism solicits readers to actively participate in a poem, to recreate each poem with every reading, and to recognize white space exists to nourish the poem with their experiences and their voices. And we seek writers and artists who yearn to communicate, not impart; to celebrate interpretations; to speak and to listen.

—- John Sibley Williams

The Experience

Inflectionism is an artistic movement that envisions art as being a social interaction. Just as social interactions seek a balance, art too should seek a communicative balance with the viewer. And it is this observer, which is the core human element essential to the creative process. What draws people together are shared experiences. Therefore inflectionists see art as a shared experience and relationship. A cross-cultural bridge, between peoples, between times, and worlds.

Consequently, inflectionists draw importance on proportionately utilizing a nonlinear approach. This is in an effort not only for art to bridge a gap, but also to keep the bridge alive and moving as all experiences and relationships do. A poem should be just like that bridge. Just like a simple park; where you might say, “I have been here many times before, but never with this weather.” Inflectionists seek to free up the hidden potential behind words, allowing their relationships to wander and be dynamic; like a bird hoping on branches causing movement to be experienced in many other areas of the tree.

Inflectionism does not seek artistic self overindulgence, it also recognizes the core concentration and authencity of an experience, but does utilize elements of a poet’s subconscious. The subconscious is seen as a conduit point. An intuitive point in the work where the author trusts his own perspective to spark a thought, create a stimuli, and present a space to mull over an experience. The approach seeks to maintain an “Inflectionist Balance”, a boiling point of integrity, a genuineness of personality, a dynamic point at which truth can resonate off of the paper.

Seemingly, the responsibility of a good poem should invite the unique perceptions and participation of a reader. It should create an environment filled with choice; an environment, for the reader to step into and participate by drawing on their own consciousness to fill in the gaps. The observer can move throughout the rooms of a poem, explore, and discover areas at their own leisure.
—-Shawn Austin

A Dialog

Instead of defining itself from scratch, inflectionism seeks to define itself as an extension of the pre-existing art. Inflectionist poetry is just one branch of the creative approach that is referred to as Inflectionism.

The literary tradition is as ancient as our capacity for verbal communication. Through ages, most of the core human concerns have remained the same, although our ability to analyze and discuss them has evolved. Poetry has remained essentially the same in that it elicits our reaction by appealing to those concerns indirectly. Yet, it has become more complex as our self-awareness grows, as new works create a precedent for approaching the same universe of discourse from slightly different angles. Inflectionist poetry builds on the most compelling precedents to create precedents of its own.

Although art does not follow a pre-set formula and each artist’s methods of expression are by necessity unique, there are certain tendencies that one identifies and adheres to if one approaches one’s creative output analytically and with a sense of responsibility to a greater whole. Inflectionist poets are in general defined by the following tendencies:

Poetry does not teach or explain. It asks questions and lets the reader answer them.
Poetry leaves space for the reader to come to their own conclusions.
Poetry seeks to represent the type of human interaction that causes a positive spark, an epiphany, a sense of growth
Poetry does not rely on any special knowledge on the reader’s part, be it political, geographical, historical, etc.

A perfect poem is like a room into which the reader is invited with a soft word. This room contains wonders the reader can explore on their own. The poem does not seek to become its own tour guide by over-explaining its meaning and beauty. The poem respects its topic and treats its reader with empathy, attempting to enrich the reader’s experience. A perfect poem works as well today as it would in the future or the past.

Inflectionist poetry is both new and familiar. It examines core human realities and gently pushes the reader to engage in a mutually defining interaction with the world.

—A. Molotkov

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