a careening, or leaning to one side, as of a ship.
verb (used without object)
(of a ship or boat) to incline to one side; careen: The ship listed to starboard.
verb (used with object)
to cause (a vessel) to incline to one side: The shifting of the cargo listed the ship to starboard.
Origin: 1620–30; origin uncertain
Synonyms 2, 3. tilt, slant, heel.
OK. I promised to put down my thoughts on List, given a few lists of poets that recently appeared online, and that subsequently caused a stir. Some links:
- 23 People Who Will Make You Care About Poetry in 2013 (Flavorwire)
- Poets Unfit For Flavorwire (English Kills)
- The Top 200 Advocates for American Poetry (2013) (Huffington Post)
Honestly, when the first list went up, I perused it and quickly concluded this didn’t have anything to do with me. I asked a fellow APIA poet whether this was important enough for us to address one way or another, and we both kind of concluded, “meh.” I decided this was other people’s issues, taking a defensive stance on behalf of American Poetry, battling for its relevance, against its assorted naysayers.
I bring this all up now, and I bring up the second and third lists above, because now apparently I do have something to do with all this, as the two lists’ authors have included me among many other American poets and American Poetry “advocates.” We seem to be preoccupied with listing — the need to create lists, and the need to problematize said lists. Arguments against the lists state that lists do nothing for Poetry but create insiders and outsiders, that lists of insiders have no place in American Poetry.
Are you all familiar with Literary Canon? That is a List.
We American authors of color, since we were youth of color and students of color, have been thwarted by canon, demoralized by canon, rendered invisible by canon, and many of us have been silenced by canon. The fact that we worked to become writers of color, and then authors of color means that we somehow found a way to persevere, despite not being included on any List. We did not accept being silenced by canon.
And this brings me to my ambivalence. I do appreciate being recognized, precisely because of what I’ve just written about being thwarted, demoralized, rendered invisible, and silenced by canon. I appreciate the inclusion of authors of color whose poetics are interesting to me, whose aesthetics and political values resonate with mine, people I think of as part of my community. Being publicly recognized for my work means the opposite of silence, and the opposite of invisible.
I would like to think we are tipping the institution on its side, but that’s most likely idealism talking.
I am wary of inclusion, when inclusion means there is exclusion. I think of this every time I create a syllabus, a required reading list. Given the finite amount of time that is the 15-week semester, given the specific topics within Filipino/a Literature I cover in my courses, and given my own ideas of what I think is “teachable,” I am very selective about my teaching texts. I cannot tell you how many back channels I receive whenever I post my lists of required texts — “What about so-and-so?” “What about me?”
My greatest hope is that a list I create will prompt folks — readers, students, educators, editors — to do their own further reading and research, to follow paths of “association,” and then perhaps as creative writers, be moved to write their own poems and stories.
So then perhaps it’s a good thing that for every list someone takes the initiative to compile, another person is prompted to think about his/her/their own value systems, what writers have moved, inspired, challenged them, create their own lists and put these into public space, risking criticism and ridicule in the process, for having the nerve to do what they’ve done.
List is subjective, but list is not meaningless.