Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Rue Hazard: Rejoice

John Latta's new blog, Rue Hazard is up and running, and everyone is required to go there immediately to read the excerpt from Patrik Ouředník's Europeana: a Brief History of the Twentieth Century, which presents us with a kind of intentionally banal, poker-faced history of the 20th century. The narrative style reminds me of Edward Sanders' historical poems, although with a bit more cynical edge: Sanders plays a kind of faux-naif role, while Ouředník speaks in the banalities of whatever historical moment he is describing -- a trick as old as parts of Joyce's Ulysses, but absolutely right for our times, where scraping the barnacles of received public opinion off the interior of one's cranium has become a daily necessity.

The more I look around, the more I see poets and other writers turning to history. For example, a few days ago I sent off an article on Kevin Prufer and Albert Goldbarth to the Notre Dame Review, for which I recently wrote a review of Kevin Ducey and Joe Francis Doerr — all poets deeply concerned with history. And I'm at work on a piece for Pleiades on the new prose book by Geoffrey Hill, for whom history and reformation theology have been major muses. Maybe it's just me gravitating to this stuff, or maybe I've become a kind of muse-of-history-go-to-guy for journal editors, but I think there's more to it than that that: something new is happening with the past.