Multiple blogs (Silliman from Wed., Dec. 13; Jonathan Mayhew, from Dec. 14) led to this, from John Gallaher:
"... to me the idea of a poetics is best left to someone other than a practicing poet."
Which led me to comment on JG's blog:
Generally, the best theorists of poetry are not the poets themselves. Or as my friend Geoff Brock once said to me, "One does not need a degree in Comparative Literature in order to write poems."
The irony of this, of course, is that Geoff and I both have degrees in Comp. Lit. (though we both wrote our dissertations on novelists), and even that we became friends in grad school. :-)
In the starting point of this discussion, Ron Silliman wrote this about Alice Notley: "She may choose to deny that what she does constitutes a poetics, but that denial, it seems to me, is not just a part of that poetics (as surely it is), it’s also part of the conscious loneliness that makes Alice Notley’s work instantly unmistakable, regardless of the forms it may take."
I would agree that the work of Alice Notley (or any poet) can be analyzed in such a way as to describe that poet's "poetics" (as something ever mutable, in the case of a living poet, as something complete and potentially even fully describable, in the case of a dead poet), but it is certainly not necessary for Alice Notley herself to do that analysis in order to write poetry.