Choose your tribe

Nearly a year ago, Josh Corey offered what seems to me to be some fresh perspective on poetry’s “Post-Avant vs. School of Quietude” skirmish, by injecting some wisdom from comic book artist Scott McCloud. 

Call me anything but timely: I liked the ideas so much, I thought I’d dredge them back up from the archives.

Basically, per Corey, McCloud describes/declares four essential camps, or tribes of comic book (sequential art) artists, which Corey notes can be found in the broader world of art and letters.  If I may be allowed to quote a quote, the four tribes can be described thusly:

The Classicists: Excellence, hard work, mastery of craft, the quest for enduring beauty.
The Animists: Putting content first, creating life through art, trusting one’s intuition.
The Formalists: Understanding of, experimentation with, and loyalty to the [art] form.
The Iconoclasts: Honesty, vitality, authenticity and unpretentiousness. Putting life first.

Quickly I notice how my own writing was shaped by animists, forever bringing me back to the story, the image, training me to see a difference between memory, or annecdotal truth, and poetic truth.  Today I can see and feel their influence: I find myself deeply invested in the animist ideals, especially trust in intuition. 

3 thoughts on “Choose your tribe

  1. Ya gotta stay loyal to the home team, right? Or maybe I’m just a sucker for the underdog.

    I felt that Corey’s explanation of the four tribes was fairly thorough, so I didn’t go into details explaining the differences among them.

    Probably just as Corey was, I was looking for a better understanding of the current camps in poetry, and especially the horizontal Classicist-Animist alignment, representing “Tradition” vs. the Formalist-Iconoclast alignment, representing “Revolution”. This seems to be Corey’s explanation of the current “Post-Avant vs. School of Quietude” rift.

    My training was more strongly aligned along the vertical Animist-Iconoclast “Life” vs. the Classicist-Formalist “Art” lines. Form seemed incidental, and only useful insofar as it might support the content and its sense of immediacy.

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