If Derek Beaulieu fans (myself included) have a sense of deja vu as they begin this chapbook-prosepoem-essay-manifesto, it’s because its first page or so expands statements he made in the last pages of his interview by Lori Emerson in his 2013 selected poems, Please, No More Poetry.
Those pages left Beaulieu with a few things to sort out and clarify, particularly the passage
the “golden arches,” the Nike “swoosh” and the Dell logo best represent the
descendants of the modernist poem. Poet Lew Welsh famously wrote the
ubiquitous Raid slogan “Raid kills bugs dead" as a copywriter at Foote Cone
and Belding in 1966. Vanessa Place argues, “we are in an age that understands
corporations are people too and poetry is the stuff of placards. And vice versa."
Like logos for the corporate sponsors of Jorge Luis Borges’ library, my concrete
poems use the particles of language to represent and promote goods and
corporations just out of reach.
Among those things this passage left suspended was the question of whether Beaulieu likes modernist poems. And what poems does he consider modernist? Does he know that the 'famous' story that claims that Lew Welch wrote the Raid 'poem' is undocumented, and at best an urban legend? Should he perhaps, like Margaret Atwood several decades ago, incorporate himself? Has he noticed that the 1942 “Loose lips sink ships,” created by the War Advertisers Council, is a modernist precursor of the Raid poem and like it had a corporate author? Does he think Lew Welch should have stayed in advertising? I am of course pulling Derek’s chain, but I do wish that he had undertaken in that interview to be as careful on some of these points as he has been in creating his artwork.
One change Beaulieu makes to this passage in his new book – seemingly following both Cummings and the once continually revising Earle Birney – is to remove all capital letters and to replace all his punctuation with spaces. Another – perhaps following Charles Olson’s use of large caps – is to use boldface for emphasis, thus overall making his text appear more ‘poetic’ than academic. (So much for “no more poetry,” eh, Derek?) Another is to raise the intensity of