Rodrigo Toscano on "May Be!"
May Be! was conceived of while I was in the throes of a poetic-critical double bind as the Occupy movement was surging in the Fall of 2011. At the outset of that momentous event, the first "bind" / subjective impulse I had to confront was the go! go! go! of the immediate moment. I strongly felt I had to indulge that impulse (a slice of the "objective material need" of the movement), though I knew that it would quickly run into a stone cold, mute-media surround, a hegemonic push back on the surge, not just nationally, but globally.
The second "bind" was my witnessing (in person and on-line) poetic communities from multiple locations tipping freely into the movement, all generously offering up their energies—poems, readings, "free library" occupations. But the gut feeling many poets had (including myself), was that even the "best" political poets with the "best" of intentions were only running (panting!) behind a receding train that was at full speed. Occupy exceeded not only the most strident ra! ra! ra! poetic chorusing, but also made warehouse sale clearances of social grievance poems seem quaint. And though there were (and are) many legitimate grievances to be aired, still, Occupy, was fast churning up social turf in front of it.
The title, May Be!, was meant to tone off of a proposed "general strike" that was to take place on May 1st 2011. In retrospect, the strike (in the U.S. at least) proved to be a wishful, mainly cultural literary gesture, despite having some committed portions of workers to "work the lines." May Be! was attempting to come to grips with the two "binds" (action / reaction; hopeful projection / humbling dejection); additionally, the poem desired to render the inquisitive dimension of rebellion that was fueling Occupy. I thought that if I didn't give voice to that dimension and re-aim it back at the movement itself, I would essentially be evacuating my role as "poet," that is, poet as I am now, complexly flawed, but searching, and still hungry for change.
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Chorus for Inquisitive Occupiers
Does Occupy exceed Occupy as an Occupation?
Does Occupy need Occupy to Occupy?
Can Occupy Occupy without Occupy?
Does Occupy need to get De-Occupied to Re-Occupy?
Will De-Occupy need to get Re-Occupied to Occupy?
Will Re-Occupy need Occupy in anyway at all?
Were there poetic acts that came before Occupy that were mainly of Occupy?
Are there now poetic acts or critical projects about Occupy that contain nothing of the stuff of Occupy?
Will there be poetic acts that fall between the cracks of Occupy, De-Occupy, and Re-Occupy, but that are still Occupational?
Has Occupy already caused fissures in genres not yet fully existing?
Has Occupy called forth cadres of cultural managers in advance of genres not yet fully existing?
Is Occupy a genre?
Is genre a cultural worker of the future not fully existing in need of Occupation?
Is genre a cultural worker of the future not fully existing in need of De-Occupation?
Is cultural manager a nice way of saying pimp daddy dog sucker fuck wad?
Can Occupy Occupy Occupy?
Is there a poetic act or critical project whose burning desire is to Occupy Everything?
Is there a poetic act or critical project whose burning desire is to De-Occupy Everything?
Is there a poetic act or critical project whose burning desire is to Re-Occupy Everything?
Is desire an Occupation?
Can Re-Occupy Occupy Re-Occupy?
What are the Occupational Hazards now of fissures in genres of the future not yet fully existing?
Are Occupational Hazards best handled through smart mitigation devices, sweeping changes in procedure, better alarm systems, personal protective equipment, or an engineering out of the Hazard?
Can De-Occupy Re-Occupy Occupy?
Is Something a little better than Nothing, though not quite Everything?
Is Nothing a little better than Everything, if Something comes out of it?
Is Everything a little better than Something, even though Nothing might come out it?
Can De-Occupy De-Occupy De-Occupy just long enough for Occupy to Re-Occupy De-Occupy?
Are the not-yet-fully-existing Communitarians the actually existing Communitarians?
What happened to Wall Street—didn't it precipitate the collapse of pimp daddy dog sucker fuck wad economy?
Is somebody a whole lot better than nobody, though not quite everybody?
Is nobody a whole lot better than everybody, if somebody gets something out of it?
Is everybody a whole lot better than somebody, even though somebody might not get anything out of it?
Will Occupy be a genre without an Occupation?
Does Occupy now have a pimp daddy dog sucker fuck wad "J" "O" "B"?