Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Mulroney Poets


Jacob McArthur Mooney calls “The Mulroney Poets”—the generation born between 1984 and 1993—the "most consistently interesting and deepest and most outrageously ambitious group we’ve ever seen." He has two theories why:
One, they have the opportunity, if they wish to take it, to be completely over the idea of “Canada.” We spent a long time in the literary culture of this country trying to figure out how to be simultaneously liberal and nationalist, and it didn’t work out because that’s an inherently bullshit position. The first big generation of Canadian writers, the boomers and their slightly older siblings, fought on and on about that. Dennis Lee is a hero of mine and a good friend but the battle he supposed in geopolitical terms in, say, Civil Elegies, or the one rendered in ecological terms by Farley Mowat, those have all been lost. These Mulroney kids are coming into adulthood at a time where the moral and environmental apocalypse being furthered by Canada is greater than the one being furthered by every other Western country. They are coming up in the only period in any living person’s memory where the Canadian Prime Minister sits to the right of the American President, and so much of that disco nationalism stuff demanded a Good Canada/Bad America dialectic. Which is no way to build a national culture, as it depends on the cultures of other nations to exist. So I would say that, though they are inexorably fucked in all the meaningful economic and moral ways, the end of a cultural Canada does them a lot of good as poets. There’s a bigger world out there.

And secondly, there’s a bigger world out there. I think that this group is so used to the repetitive smashing together of cultural products: near and far, high and low, old and new, that the reach of their metaphors can be so much more ambitious and natural than for poets born even a few years earlier. A lot of this is the internet but it’s also the Internet of Thoughts, you know. It’s how those technological gadgets reconfigure the brain if you’re young enough to be born into them. Juxtaposition is finished, I think, it doesn’t exist anymore. So you get crazy shit happening out there with people like Kayla Czaga and Michael Prior and Vincent Colistro (or Jessica Bebenek or Liz Howard or all those people in Vancouver) where an amount of figurative reach that might seem showy or performative for even our more culturally-literate older poets (McGimpsey, Rogers, Babstock) just flow off the tongue and there’s no ta-dah attached, it’s just culture speaking.
(Photo of Vincent Colistro)

4 comments:

Stephen Morrissey said...

It seems that every generation thinks it's better in some way than the previous generation... however, the proof is in the work and that takes time to evaluate.

Anonymous said...

All of the people mentioned in this post are white, is that the other uniting factor for this "generation"?

Seamus Ogden said...

Fact check: Michael Prior, person of colour

Carmine Starnino said...

Liz Howard is First Nations. http://town-crier.ca/interview/liz-howard/