Monday, December 04, 2006

kari edwards died of heart failure on Saturday. kari was 52. kari and I read together once and I liked the work, which was at once both rough & immediate, with terrific attention to detail plus an ear to language as social. There was one trick to writing about kari – kari didn’t like you to use pronouns except to refer to yourself, because pronouns in English invariably register gender and kari’s position as a gender activist (kari’s term) was that there was no way to go about this that wasn’t wrong. Others tended to use the feminine, but when I wrote a piece that avoided pronouns altogether with regards to edwards, kari noticed & wrote to thank me.

kari always struck me as a classic instance of the person who may have great difficulty fitting into many another social context, but for whom the world of poetry offered great possibility. A kin in this regard to such divergent personalities as John Wieners, Jack Spicer, Hannah Weiner, Dan Davidson, Larry Eigner. One of the great things about the post-avant (and the most crucial way in which it differs from the old avant, let alone the School of Q) is how it understands itself as a community, and how open it is to people based on what they can do, not really on anything else. When Gil Ott died a few years back, it was kari who pointed out to me how important a figure he had been when edwards was first thinking seriously about poetry – Gil’s idea of poetry as community organizing is a model that kari carried forward. kari’s “career” wasn’t that long, but it reached a lot of people very quickly and a quick search on Technorati or Google’s blog search will give some clue as to just how many (and how different) people today are mourning kari edwards.