Literarisches Events (in and around Lawrence KS)

  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Thursday, September 11, 7:00 p.m., Spooner Hall, KU Campus.
  • PATRICIA LOCKWOOD. Lawrence. Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m. Lawrence Public Library. Sponsored by Raven Bookstore.
  • DENNIS ETZEL, JR. & RACHEL CROSS. Lawrence. Thursday, September 25, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • TONY TRIGILIO. Lawrence. Thursday, Oct. 2, 4:00 p.m., English Room, Kansas Union, KU Campus. FREE.
  • CALEB PUCKETT & JUSTIN RUNGE. Lawrence. Thursday, October 16, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.
  • BEN LERNER. Kansas City, MO. Thursday, October 23, 7:00 p.m., Epperson Auditorium, Vanderslice Hall on the KCAI campus, 4415 Warwick Blvd.
  • KRISTIN LOCKRIDGE & ROBERT DAY. Lawrence. Thursday, December 4, 7:00 p.m., Raven Bookstore, 6 E. 7th St.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

History, Poetry, Logos

" . . . thought may be ejaculated as Logos, or Word," writes Emerson, in his "seminal" essay, "The Poet." And that's what poetry is for him: spiritualized logocentric ejaculate. "Milton is too literary," he says, "and Homer too literal and historical." There you have the two poles: the literary and the literal; the historical and transhistorical Logos (poetry). More either or's.

There are a lot of poets who are writing "poems including history" - not in the sense of containing history (which resonates in Pound's description, IMO), but as the opposite of occluding history - which is to say, not dealing with it at all.

Ed Sanders is clearly trying to teach us, in his verse history of the US (and in his amazing 1968) - he's thinking about the form - the line, in particular - and letting the content take care of itself. But a lot of people are experimenting with form in order to question the content "history." I've mentioned a few of these in previous posts. I take "history" broadly to include any narrative of past events that the writer did not make up herself - that is, that are built around memory, testimony, evidence. Obviously there's a problem in this (what are we remembering, testifying to, or presenting evidence of except other people's memories, testimonies and texts? And what are the status of these? Me's on a beam - and about the fall off).

But that's Why Poetry. I think of Paterson as being a kind of unhistory or shadow (under- or interstitial) history. Or the first few sections of Dictee. Or Brenda Coultas' long poem at the beginning of Marvellous Bones of Time (re: her childhood and Abraham Lincoln) is an example - first person, where the speaker may or may not know the first thing about the first person, let alone the historical personage - but feels compelled to the attempt.

Ditto Mahmoud Darwish's Memory for Forgetting; Silliman's Under Albany; as well as books like Susan M. Schultz' Dementia Blog or Gabriel Gudding's Rhode Island Notebook, where "current events" in the individual life and the global life intertwine.

You can probably name some more, won't you?