On a more basic level, one must have a politically and economically viable identity in order to willingly lose it, to throw it to the wind. Those that say for aesthetic reasons that identity is dead, fragmented, or passé, often have a viable identity they do not need to worry about. Being invisible or visible as a white male is quite different than being invisible or visible as a Chicano. This invisibility itself speaks to a broader symptom in the poetics of the “new.” The invisibility of identity is a symptom of a broader ideological construction: that of the exclusion of Chicana/o voices in the broader cultural hierarchy. This is not a categorical absolute. Rather, it is a fact of this particular moment in US culture. The exclusion of a representative Chicana/o and Latina/o voices (Rodrigo Toscano, Lorna Dee Cervantes, and even Juan Felipe Herrera arguably fulfill the publication and aesthetic criteria ) in American Hybrid (and other such “avantist” anthologies) is symptomatic of this broader ideological exclusion and social disparity.
The historical result is what comes to be known as “official verse culture,” “the School of Quietude,” or simply “conservative” verse is in fact a nebulous space that can only be defined in the negative, by what it is not (as is the case for “avant” traditions). More, because “innovative” poetics resist and reject any sense of singularity, the narrative lyric—a form with which many foundational Chicana/o poets identify due to its ability to affirm identity while also lineating that identity’s experience—is summarily rejected, as it smacks of old romanticism. The result is a type of political hijacking on the avant-garde’s part. On one hand, the American avant-garde aligns itself with the disenfranchised in that it too resists perceived dominant culture. On the other hand, it rejects the very forms of representation by which “minority” poets largely speak.
—J. Michael Martínez and Jordan Windholz
from “A Poetics of Suspicion: Chicano/a Poetry and the New (a dialogue)" by J. Michael Martinez and Jordan Windholz
forthcoming in Puerto del Sol,
and recently posted as a file at “LaChiPo,” a new list-serve for Latino/a and Chicano/a poets, started by Carmen Giménez Smith.