Entries tagged with poetics

Guide front 1200Guide back 1200

An advance copy of A Guide to Poetics Journal: Writing in the Expanded Field, 1982-98 has just arrived. Orders may be placed now but will be fulfilled later (check here for updates on delivery). The entire project will not be “launched” until Fall 2013, when the companion Poetics Journal Digital Archive–which reprints nearly all of the 124 articles, 1600 published pages of the original journal in searchable, digital form–will be available. UPNE’s site for the anthology is here; a table of contents for the Guide may be found here. Click on either cover for a larger version.

[for Sarah Ruddy]

In lieu of a list of resolutions for the New Year, a bibliography of books acquired at the recent MLA in Boston and on a side trip to Gloucester may point toward some of its promises.


Isherwood, Christopher. Goodbye to Berlin. New York: New Directions, 2012. New ed. in single volume.

Walser, Robert. The Assistant. Trans. Susan Bernofsky. New York: New Directions, 2007.

———. Microscripts. Trans. Susan Bernofsky. New York: New Directions/Christine Burgin, 2012.


Beckett, Samuel. Waiting for Godot/En attendant Godot: A Bilingual Edition. 1952/1953. New York: Grove Press, n.d.

Perec, Georges. La Boutique obscure: 124 Dreams. Trans. Daniel Levin Becker. Brooklyn: Melville House, 2012. Advance copy.


Chang, Iris. The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotton Holocaust of World War II. 1997; New York: Basic Books, 2012.

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A resonant passage from Lyn Hejinian’s The Book of a Thousand Eyes, which should have wide circulation (and links) for pedagogical and moral purposes.

I am a failed fire chief
I am a failed thief

Didn’t I fail at the wrong thing, aren’t I a failure at failure

Failure is inevitable
I am a fan of failure
I am a failure flailed by failure
I leap into failure
I relish the self-pity that’s produced by the self-loathing that comes as a consequence of failure

The sauce has curdled, the meat is tough, the custard is runny—the meal is a failure

Failure is the offshoot of argument—but then failure occurs too from a lack of it
Moral failure
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“Absolute Contingency: The Political Work of WWI Popular Poetry”

Thursday, April 14, 3:00 PM
The Welcome Center Auditorium
Woodward & Warren Avenues, WSU

“Honor & Solidarity: Can the Legacy of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Inspire the Contemporary University’s Unions?”

Friday, April 15, 7:30 PM
The African-American Room, 91 Manoogian Hall
Warren Avenue & Anthony Wayne Drive, WSU

Flyer: click here

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Turing Machine

“Jackson Mac Low as Reading Machine: Stanzas for Iris Lezak, Sampling, and Print Culture,” presented at High and Low, European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernist Studies, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland, 11 September 2010.

[From the introduction] In this paper, I propose a historical and cultural reading of postmodern practices of textual sampling and “reading through” in the poetry of Jackson Mac Low. To do so, I will position the methods and materials of his magnum opus Stanzas for Iris Lezak at the intersection of several concerns. The first is the imperative to rethink modernism and the historical avant-garde in relation to the content, forms, and media of mass culture. … More

post_moot 2KX / poetry + performance: a convocation
Miami University (Oxford, Ohio), 22–25 April 2010

Meetings, encounters, events, various types of collaboration between people, games, festivals, and places of conviviality, in a word all manner of encounter and relational intervention thus represent, today, aesthetic objects likely to be looked at as such, with pictures and sculptures regarded here merely as specific cases of a production of forms with something other than a simple aesthetic consumption in mind.

—Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics (les presses du réel, 2002), 28–29

Nicolas Bourriaud’s account of new forms of aesthetic practice is simple enough: after Pierre Bourdieu and Jacques Rancière, he identifies a range of “outer-directed” art practices that have emerged since the 90s in alternative venues. While originating in conceptual art, site-specific sculpture, installation, and performance from the 60s and 70s, these new forms translate the earlier ones into modes of social interaction. We are no longer speaking of “genre” per se, as with the position of painting and sculpture above. The aesthetic becomes the location of open interaction that connects artwork and community—to become a model, even instigator, of sociality. The open forms of formerly distinct genres—conceptual art, site-specific sculpture, installation, and performance—are further dismantled and recombined toward a horizon of social engagement as art practice.

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“Ashbery’s Historicism: Regions of Modernity
          in The Double Dream of Spring

Workshop Session III, 14:30–17:00
Friday, 12 March 2010

John Ashbery in Paris: International Conference
11–13 March 2010
Institut Charles V, Université Paris Diderot

For the complete program, see:

Modification of the cover of Total Syntax by Ray Craig.

In today’s mail came the current Critical Inquiry (36, no. 2; Winter 2010), which I earlier noticed would contain an essay on George Oppen (John Wilkinson, “The Glass Enclosure: Transparency and Glitter in the Poetry of George Oppen”). I had been looking forward to that discussion with interest, in terms of Oppen but also of where poetry criticism seems to be going in CI, after some recent questionable efforts. “Poetry” itself is still a tarnished critical category, with the New Lyric Studies and Conceptual Writing failing to provide direction.

Flipping through, as one might likely do, scanning footnotes and catching the drift, I came up short at the penultimate paragraph: a strained mention of my Constructivist Moment in the service of—what point? That the split between Oppen’s poetics of “integrity” and his Left politics remains problematic, pointing to a tendency in American poetics to presume a convergence of politics and form that collapses under scrutiny? This is the quote:

The fantasy entertained by Barrett Watten of an American “constructivist moment” seeks to arrogate William Carlos Williams and Vladimir Mayakovsky as dialectically linked forefathers for Language Poetry. Watten seems ignorant of the two poets’ meeting in an apartment in East Fourteenth Street in Greenwich Village on 19 September 1925. Mayakovsky’s reading was a profound experience for Williams, according to his biographer—a touchstone for epic revolutionary art exposing the bombast of Carl Sandburg, even if its influence cannot be discerned directly in Williams’s poetry. But Williams continued to publish both poetry and prose through the Depression and the period of the Cultural Front . . . . (237–38).

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