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, June 15, 2012

Tea and Gin, anyone?

Tea and Gin is a homophonic rendering of the name of the city of Tianjin, China. It is the title of Univ. of Kansas English PhD student Ben Cartwright's dissertation, and his Kickstarter project. He wishes to travel to China to conduct research for Tea and Gin, which is based on the history of foreign "concessions" in the city. Many of the poems are (being) written using procedural constraints of one type or another. It's quite a fascinating project - one that takes English-language "documentary poetry" in new directions (geographically, as well as formally).

Here is his site, w/a short introductory video, along with "testimonials" from William J. Harris and myself (under "Updates"). Even if you decide not to contribute, it's a very interesting project (and video), and a creative, forward-looking method of funding.

If you have an Amazon account, it's easy to make a pledge. And, as with all Kickstarter projects, if he doesn't make his goal by the deadline, you pay nothing.

Thank you for your consideration.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

F*in' "A"

This is my first time reading all of Louis Zukofsky's "A"; I'd read parts before (e.g., # 7 - the sawhorses), but never the whole. When I began, I was like, Oh - it's a leftist Cantos (which I guess is how some people think of it). Not a bad thing in itself. But as one gets farther into it, the more it becomes apparent that "A" is a much more formally (and thematically?) various text than the Cantos. One gets the sense of the poet (and person) changing over time, in response to changing circumstances (McCarthyism not least among them). And trying out different things. I find that a much more congenial approach than Uncle Ez, who thinks he has things figured out at the outset, and works deductively from there.

Preliminary conclusion after having read through movement 10: This is all about the potential harmonization of (seeming) opposites: Marx and Spinoza; general and particular; matter and spirit - - "tonus Contrarius" - the poem as fugue. I've started plowing through 12, and it's clear how things changed by the late 40s (as they did for so many writers).

The great thing about blogs is that you can write fresh impressions that probably recapitulate what somebody has already said, and it still has the charming naivite of the neophyte. And, since nobody makes any money from poetry, nobody really cares. Except maybe Paul Zukofsky. But that's another story.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


 I sometimes write authors to tell them I like what they wrote. Then it occurred to me that it might be nice to share those complimentary remarks with the rest of the world (after all, I've already bought the book, and who knows maybe you will, too). Is that gauche? OK.

So, to inaugurate this questionable practice, here is what I wrote Christian Hawkey about his book Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling 2010):

"I love the rhythm it establishes between the dialogic, ekphrastic, and lyric. Translation, yes, but also a certain amount of mediumship or necromancy - anyway, it gives the sense of bringing Trakl present (and maybe projecting Hawkey back). I love the way the materiality (and playfulness) of the poems intersperses the documentary passages"

I should give some back story. The premise of the book (on UDP's amazingly wonderful Dossier series, ed. by Anna Moschovakis) is that Hawkey is having a conversation with the German expressionist poet Georg Trakl. This project presents some difficulties, as (a.) Trakl is dead, and (b.) there's about 100 years between the two poets. The ventricle is the back-and-forth between these - via homophonic translations and staged dialogues between the two (both of these quite funny - sometimes the deeply sincere German of Trakl becomes brand names or pop culture references in 21st c. American English), was well as some relatively straightforward biographical speculating (which is rather more somber).  Also lots of photos accompanied by writing that sometimes takes a parallax relation towards them. And lists. And a mix of verse and prose. In short, the sort of book a Joe Harrington would be a sucker for. You might, too.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I'm Finally on the Map

The "Map of Kansas Literature," that is - initiated by the dean of Kansasentrism studies, novelist Tom Averill. Apparently, you get a page if a student in his Kansas Literature class decides to make you one - which seems like an eminently sensible procedure. Check it out - you might be surprised at some of the names!

I should say that Tom, Sarah Smarsh, Eric McHenry, Dennis Etzel, Jr., and the other fine folks on the faculty at Washburn University take this sort of thing very seriously. I have not had a better campus visit than the one to WU, which is only 30 minutes from where I live - all of the folks named here were using my book in their class, the students were engaged and asked great questions, there were 60+ people at the reading (w/good - tough - questions afterward), and I signed at least as many books as I have anywhere else. And what a beautiful campus - which I'd never taken the time to wander around. The new dorm is second to none - complete w/a library (w/fireplace).

[Of course, the Univ. of Kansas isn't too shabby, either, IMO . . .]

I think this officially makes me a naturalized Kansan. (Now if we can just do something about Gov. Sam Brownshirt)

Thursday, June 7, 2012

We Love Events!!

Know of a reading or other public event involving quasi-experimental-post-avant-whatever writing w/in a 200-mile radius of Lawrence, KS? If so, let me know - as you can see, I try to maintain a calendar.