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.

Friday, October 30, 2009

from _Joe's Marginalia_ : _A Selection of the Poems of Laura Riding_



- lyric cluster -

i.e., she's bigger than love


*     *     *

fuck-you poem  -  Millay

v. alienation

soul-retrieval -

a type -
a fantasy > what she tends towards herself

de-corporeal --> anorexic?

* * *


yikes       beautiful dead woman?

multiple but one

no possession possible

rather than vice-versa

having v. seeing 

* * *

past life?

cut off
from past -
hi modernist topos

- portrait
- degraded saint

- Cf. Loy's Bowery poems

Apology of Genius

Eve as apple?
knowledge of good
& evil - or Ultimate Knowledge?


Veiled goddess.

* * *

the anti-Beatrice?

the Ultimate as
dark & female -
that can't be named

love &/as death


woman as lack/gap?

not an aporia


* * *

aphrodite from the spume

so, antipodes -


for herself

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Kansas Blotter Interviews

Here's an intriguing new project by poet/sci-fi writer Ben Cartwright - The Kansas Blotter - an interview series of writers in Lawrence KS. Lawrence KS?? you might ask. And the answer is Yes. I still wish someone would do a literary history of this town - what a fascinating core-sample of US literary history that would be!

Anyhow, here's Ben's description of the site:

"The Kansas Blotter interviews are conducted by me, in Lawrence, KS, with a variety of writers and artists. The purpose of these interviews is to investigate creative practice in my community, and the world at large, and to foster a feeling of connection and understanding between working artists. I hope these interviews will be listened to by everyone. Barring that, I hope they will be listened to by people for whom they have some use. Please don't give these interviews new lives, in other contexts, without first contacting me for permission."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What I Saw at the Wetlands

1. Canada geese

2. Red-winged blackbirds

3. The sun (briefly)

4. Switchgrass and big bluestem taller than me

5. smeared old racoon

6. fat, splayed new racoon

7. Lincoln's sparrow

8. song sparrow

9. black-capped chickadee

10. American coot

11. A figure about twice as large as a large man, emerging from the water covered with a film of scummy green paint, who said, "I am DUCKWEED MAN! - I am the asshole who's taking over the world! I've got you by the balls - you're MINE and you are TOAST!" "But," I objected,"You are the smallest multicellular plant on the planet." Then I noticed he had no genitals.

12. Franklin's gulls (kettling)

13. crows (lots)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

From the Privileged - and Patronizing

". . . we should view the privilege of a higher education much as we did the privileges that we enjoyed as children. We knew we couldn't get ice cream if we didn't help wash the dishes - we worked for the privileges that we enjoyed, and we shared in the responsibility of earning them. Those special activities were available to us, but we did not enjoy them as a 'right.' We were expected to contribute.
     ". . . We need to break down expectations based on entitlement and focus on educational productivity and outcomes. Institutions should review redundancies, rethink staffing models, and streamline business practices. Productivity measures should be applied in all areas. . . .
     "For example, we should re-evaluate the notion that large classes are inherently pedagogically unsound.  . . . Although no one would advocate for large classes in every discipline or instance, we should review what we do in light of new financial contingencies . . ."

- Hamid Shirvani, president of Calif. State Stanislaus, writing in the Oct. 23 Chronicle of Higher Eduction.

May I have my ice cream now, please?

Sunday, October 18, 2009

That was a question (and a good one)

"Why is the perfect reestablishment practiced and prized, why is it composed."

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Anthology or Notlogy?

As I prepare to order books for my poetry workshop next semester, I’m confronted by the perennial issue of whether or not to order an anthology. Marianne Moore argues in favor of anthologies thusly: “Academic feeling, or prejudice possibly, in favor of continuity and completeness is opposed to miscellany – to music programs, composite picture exhibitions, newspapers, magazines, and anthologies. Any zoo, aquarium, library, garden, or volume of letters, however, is an anthology and certain of these selected findings are highly satisfactory.” Just so. But likewise, “However expressive the content of an anthology, one notes that a yet more distinct unity is afforded in the unintentional portrait given, of the mind which brought the assembled integers together.” And, one might add, the historical moment in which that mind operated. The auteur and his/her times.

So, should I order an anthology? And if so, which? I’m seriously asking – that’s what the comments box is for.

To my mind, the contenders:
- American Poets of the 21st Century (Claudia Rankine and Lisa Sewell, eds.)
- American Hybrid (Cole Swenson and David St. John, eds.).
- Lyric Postmodernism (Reginald Shepherd, ed.)
- Postmodern American Poetry (Paul Hoover, ed.)

Each has its flaws, as has been pointed out in the BlogPoSphere. The first only covers 7 poets (but does so in gratifying detail – poems, poetic statement, essay by another poet/critic). American Hybrid – only 7 pages per poet – and lots of them – and lots of them are boring – and some less-good poems by the poets that aren’t. But it’s cheaper than the late R. Shepherd’s anthology – which had the misfortune to come out from an independent press the year before the A.H./W.W. Norton juggernaut appeared. And it does largely the same thing, in a little more detail – something between the previous two. It’s about 2/3 the size of A.H., but costs a couple of bucks more. Pomo Am. Poetry is great, but pretty dated at this point.

I also want to order books by individual authors. Here the problem is to avoid foisting my current reading habits (experimental multi-genre narratives, mostly; often large) on my students, who will be intermediate-level. But that’s another issue . . .

Monday, October 5, 2009

“Academic feeling, or prejudice possibly, in favor of continuity and completeness is opposed to miscellany” - Marianne Moore, 1927

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"It is . . . the utterance of clever people in despair, or hovering upon the brink of that precipice. . . . [T]heir lamentation [is] . . . 'In the midst of this desolation, give me at least one intelligence to converse with.'"

- Ezra Pound, on the poetry of Marianne Moore and Mina Loy, 1918

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Why I Like Marianne Moore

- I like lists, esp. lists of stuff and of species

- I am an inductive, rather than deductive, thinker

- Whoever says Moore’s stuff is not musical has a tin ear. I like the sound, shape, pacing, connotations of her words and lines more than the “message.” It’s complex music – which is so much better than the metronome.

- There is something about seeing nature as art and art as nature that appeals to me

- And the ethos of resilience

- Grammatically Correct sentences that leave one off-balance. Parataxis within and between them. Precursor of the “new sentence”??

- Bits of found material - citational - a research-based poetry

- Bits of found material sutured together into the same sentence. (Precursor of flarf??)

- She purposely evaded the either/or, "er ye fer it or agin it," coke/pepsi configuration of US poetic politics (despite Pound's best efforts)

- The rarely unbrilliant Ben Friedlander: "[M]ediation becomes at once more complex and more pervasive: more complex because, as Moore's work shows, one can be aware of mediations while negotiating them with ease; more pervasive, because their introduction into a poem can be coordinated with the sharing of meaning rather than treated as antagonistic to it. . . . Indeed, Moore's most precise and informative descriptions are often those places where the mediation of representational language is highlighted." What he said.

- Part of this phenomenon is due to the way she makes her syntax do Advanced Yoga.

- In fact, the topic of mimesis comes up in a lot of her poems - never unproblematically. We're always aware of looking at language describing looking at a representation. The poem is an object about objects.

- her "collage textures of poetry and discursive slides by which I definitely feel influenced." (Rachel Blau DuPlessis)

- I reserve the right to add to this list at any time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Blog Lit? - easier to define "blog"

. . . than "literature," that is. Which is another backwash of the "what is art?" question. It's taken on more importance for me lately, since I volunteered to be the thesis "advisor" to an MFA thesis that is, in fact, a blog (viz., Jen Humphrey's Up From the Ground).

Now, I've found all of her posts interesting. They're about life on her farm, Kansas, weather, animals, and occasionally blogs (and lit). Since I know Jen, and b/c I live in Kansas, all of these things are de facto interesting to me.

"But is it ART?" the John Housman character intones from the back of the room. On one level, who cares. On another level, this blog is being produced within one of the Institutions of Literature (university English Dept. MFA program) in order to achieve that institution's official seal of approval (a sheepskin that has "art" written on it somewhere).

So, either one has to destroy (or leave) the institution, or one has to start thinking about what constitutes art.

Now, once somebody puts a urinal in an art museum, it's pretty pointless for anyone else to do that. A more interesting instance is the "Claude glass." Claude glasses are named for Claude Lorraine, the famous French landscape painter. The nobility would sally forth for picnics, and, when they saw a particularly beautiful scene, would tell their servants to hold up the Claude glass. This device consisted of a large picture frame, with poles attached. In other words, the scene would be framed, as it would in a Claude Lorraine painting. Voila! (Today we call this a "camera").

Derrida has a thing or two to say about the frame - the parergon - and what it does and does not contain (cf. his essay "Economimesis"), so I am leery of framing generally, esp. unselfconscious framing. But it seems to me that the process that Jen describes is a process of striving to fit into the frame - that is, the accepted (orthodox, canonical - pick your adj.) model of what a blog post should be - which, in this case, sounds a lot like pretty old-fashioned notions of what an essay should be.

She puts the problem thusly:

"I typically think of blog posts as having an arc, of telling a story, whether by word or image or both, but I also am drawn to blogs that are mere snippets of thoughts and information. I have resisted writing the latter here, for concern that it is not artful enough. If I go off on tangents or write unedited, on impulse, unimpeded by these rules I have made up for art in the thesis sense, what would I create? This means letting go of the idea that if it isn’t artful enough, then perhaps it doesn’t count as the art of an MFA thesis. I haven’t given myself the permission to do anything outside of what I think is acceptable for a thesis. Time to break that rule."

Indeed so. Blogs do a lot of different things. An environmentalist blog may have education - information sharing or consciousness-raising - as its goal, for instance. But what's the goal of blog-lit? Well, here's my comment to Jen's post:

"Tangents, impulse, unimpeded, letting go: right on. Personally, to me, those sorts of things lead to art more surely than all the rules in the rule book of writing."

So we have The Spectator on the one hand, and Keats' letters, on the other. But even Addison and Steele had fun with it - with Will Honeycomb and the cast of characters.

In more practical terms, here is a possible lit-mus (ha ha) test: Would someone who has no interest in farming (and who doesn't know Jen) read this blog? Would someone who is looking for "literature" turn to it? Or someone who could care less about either?

A couple of posts down from this one, you'll find me questioning Gertrude Stein's (and her critics) use of the term "exactitude" (and its synonyms). Well, Anonymous put it well in her (?) response:

"How commensurate is 'exactitude' with Stein's experimental bent? I'm not expert on the topic, but Stein fascinates me precisely for her hell-bent inexactitude and seeming devil-may-care pursuit of this quality. It is a very emboldening stance that frees up one's thinking, thawing one's inner snow woman and relaxing creative fears."

Does that mean we're not in Kansas any more? . . .