Entries tagged with poetics

Document 38: Occupy Poetics

Barrett Watten, “Occupy Poetics:
A Work in Progress”
ASAP, 28 September 2015

This paper follows on a contribution to the EAM meeting in Helsinki that tracked two opposing accounts of language-centered writing’s influence on experimental poets engaged in Occupy movements, specifically Oakland. Moving from a materialist account of utopian possibility realized in poetic form to a combinatorial freedom associated with chance-generated strategies, the essay sought a convergence between contingent decision, radical freedom, and experimental practices among Occupy poets, focusing on poets David Lau and Brian Ang. In extending my argument, I survey a greater range of poets in the movement, beginning with Sara Larsen and Jasper Bernes, to develop a set of terms that interpret Occupy itself as informed by poetic principles. I return to the proliferation of poetics in the various Occupy sites, both to confirm the importance of a poetics of “combinatorial materialism,” and to extend the analysis of my first two examples by alternative concerns more prominent or visible in other poets. … More

A week ago, I returned from Germany to find the online poetry community in an uproar over Ron Silliman’s “Je suis Vanessa Place.” There, Silliman triangulates the Charlie Hebdo award controversy with the petition to remove Place from a steering committee at AWP, and her conceptual project to tweet Gone with the Wind in 140-character chunks over several years. Since then, a second letter campaign in part led to the devolution and canceling of the Berkeley Poetry Conference 2015 (BPC), a situation still unresolved.  Silliman sees the primary issue as freedom of expression in a climate of projective and even rhetorically violent debate. Unfortunately, whatever the merits of his position—which I agree with on many grounds—his own rhetorical strategy makes analogies and leaps that are at turns defensive and projective to the point of offense to most readers. … More

New in 2015:cover

“Language Writing”
an essay by Barrett Watten

The Cambridge Companion to
Modern American Poetry
ed. Walter Kalaidjian

Table of contents:

1. The emergence of ‘the new poetry’
John Timberman Newcomb
2. Modern American archives and scrapbook
modernism / Bartholomew Brinkman
3. Experimental modernism
Alan Golding
… More

Guide front 1200

A Guide to Poetics Journal:
Writing in the Expanded Field,
Ed. Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten
Wesleyan University Press, 2013

A Guide to Poetics Journal, the print component of a hybrid publication project that will be completed with its digital half, Poetics Journal Digital Archive, in early 2014, is now available from Wesleyan University Press. The press has provided a link that you may use to receive a 30% discount: use promotion code W301 at the following site: here. For more information on this venture, see the publicity flyer linked here.

Table of Contents

Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten

           Part I: Numbers 1–4

Steve Benson
Close Readings: Leavings and Cleavings

Charles Bernstein
Writing and Method

Beverly Dahlen
Forbidden Knowledge

Alan Davies

… More

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
… More

“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.

… More