It should be noted that the major figures of U.S. Language writing (most explicitly in the case of Barrett Watten, whose embarrassing series of articles on the topic at Jacket2 have to be read to be believed) resolutely oppose BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions Against Israel Until it Complies with International Law and Universal Principles of Human Rights).

By and large, these poets are, as well, apparently quite comfortable with cozying up to the Stalinist Chinese state, which holds a substantial number of poets and artists in prison or house arrest for nothing more than the free expression of their creative faculties, including the courageous 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

Most recently, Bob Perelman and Tan Lin, along with one of the leading proponents of the by-now disappeared Flarf movement, Nada Gordon, participated in a gala NYC event sponsored by the Confucius Institute, an open cultural-propaganda arm of the Chinese CP. At Dispatches we called on them to take the opportunity of their invitation to speak out. It seems they did not. And not to mention that numerous U.S. poets and critics like Charles Bernstein and Marjorie Perloff, along with various second-gen fellow-travelers (and what about UK avant poets?), have been visiting China on sponsored tours for years now, and apparently without saying a public word about the repression of poetic free speech in the land of the mass-murderer Mao and his inheritors.

So at what point does such “cultural” behavior become something of concern to the poetic community as a whole?

Kent Johnson