Thursday, April 03, 2008


A Celebration of
George Oppen’s 100th Birthday
100 minutes of talk & poetry

Hosted by Rachel Blau DuPlessis & Thomas Devaney
& featuring
Stephen Cope
, George Economou, Al Filreis,
Michael Heller, Ann Lauterbach, Tom Mandel,
Bob Perelman, & Ron Silliman

Monday, April 7

6:00 PM, Arts Café, Kelly Writers House
Locust Walk
of Pennsylvania

George Oppen and his wife, Mary, sailed and hitchhiked from the West Coast to New York City in the 1920s. There, Oppen became a central member of the Objectivist Group of poets that flourished in the 1930s. George and Mary Oppen moved increasingly to the left during the Depression, becoming social activists and joining the Communist party in 1935. During this period Oppen's poems appeared in small journals such as Active Anthology, Poetry, and Hound and Horn, but he soon gave up writing for more than two decades. Oppen revived his poetic career when he returned to the United States in 1958. In 1962, New Directions published Oppen's second book of poetry, The Materials, which was followed by This in Which (1965). In 1969, Of Being Numerous (1968) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for poetry. Oppen's Collected Poems (1975) includes all of his poetry from Discrete Series (1934) through his last work, Myth of the Blaze (1975). In the late 1960s, Oppen moved to San Francisco, where he lived until his death in 1984.

Poet and critic Stephen Cope is editor of George Oppen: Selected Prose Daybooks, and Papers (U. of California Press, 2008), and a founding editor of Essay Press. He has taught at universities in California, Iowa, and Ohio, and is on the faculty of Bard College's Language and Thinking program.

Thomas Devaney is the author A Series of Small Boxes (Fish Drum, 2007). He teaches in the Critical Writing Program at the University of Pennsylvania, and is editing a feature section "Oppen at 100" for Jacket 38 (October 2008).

Rachel Blau DuPlessis has both written on George Oppen's work and edited his Selected Letters (Duke U.P., 1990). DuPlessis has published numerous books of poetry and literary criticism; her most recent critical book is Blue Studios: Poetry and its Cultural Work. She teaches in the English Department of Temple University.

George Economou's latest book is Acts of Love, Ancient Greek Poetry from Aphrodite's Garden (Modern Library/Random House). Books of Cavafy translations and the poems & fragments of Ananios Kleitor are forthcoming.

Al Filreis is Kelly Professor, Director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House and author of four books, most recently Counter-revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945-60.

Michael Heller is a poet, essayist and critic. Forthcoming in 2008 are Eschaton, a new book of poems, Speaking the Estranged, a collection of his essays on George Oppen, and Marble Snows: Two Novellas.

Ann Lauterbach's most recent books are Hum and The Night Sky: Writings on the Poetics of Experience. She is Schwab Professor of Languages and Literature at Bard College, where she also co-directs Writing in the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts.

Tom Mandel grew up in Chicago and was educated in its jazz and blues clubs and at the University of Chicago. He is the author of more than a dozen books including To the Cognoscenti (2007) and is one of the authors of The Grand Piano, an ongoing experiment in collective autobiography.

Bob Perelman has published numerous books of poetry, most recently Iflife. He teaches at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ron Silliman's most recent book is The Age of Huts (compleat) and several volumes of the collectively written Grand Piano project. In 2008, the University of Alabama Press will publish The Alphabet.

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