Saturday, April 05, 2008

 


Photo courtesy of Tom Raworth



Andrew Crozier

19432008

on George Oppen

on Ed Dorn

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Friday, April 04, 2008

 

The bpNichol website has gone live

Life on bpNichol Lane

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What an interview should be:
CA Conrad interviewing Rachel Blau DuPlessis

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Frank O’Hara in The New Yorker

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Bruce Andrews turned 60 on Tuesday,
making him one day younger than Al Gore

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Jack Kimball on Joe Dunn

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Reginald Shepherd, Rachel Zolf & C. Dale Young
all are on the Lambda Poetry shortlist

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Ed Sanders in New Orleans

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The first Pericles in Philadelphia
in 150 years

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Some questions about conceptual poetry

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Alfred Corn on Jonathan Williams

The Winston-Salem Journal’s obit

The Highlander’s obit

Another North Carolina obit

A reading in Cambridge (the real one) in 1973

James Jaffe’s eulogy

Bookseller David Lovely’s comments

Those of Hermeneutic Circle

Having dinner with Jonathan 31 years ago

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Rae Armantrout in The New Yorker

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Long poems coming to Sussex

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Maya Angelou at 80

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Bob Creeley died three years ago this week

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The Whalen tribute reading in Portland

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Didi Menendez’ When I Said Goodbye

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The banana of God

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Is the web destroying your living?

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Hart Crane

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The number of words in the English language

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An Oppen Centennial salute in San Francisco

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Talking with Jorie Graham

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Is there onne Earthe a Manne more trewe
Thanne Willy Shakspeare is toe you”

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Talking with Grace Paley

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20 favorite poets for National Poetry Month

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PEN protests Horsley’s ban

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Somehow I missed the cringe event of the season

With “the perfect accessory

& even ringtones

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The “darling of the NPR set”

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Silliman for dummies

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Flarf: not dead yet

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The “science of literature

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The “national epic” of Britain is…

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Great expectations?

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Another elegy for The Bookroom

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12 statements about reading

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A Welsh poet in Italy

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Mabel Todd & Emily Dickinson

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Beckett’s taste in poetry

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The best travel bookstore ever?

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The best New Zealand poems of 2007
isn’t 30 pages long

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Buying what he thinks is
Lyn Hejinian’s first book

(He obviously has not seen
The Grreat Adventure!
)

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Love me, love my books

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A poet living “off-the-grid

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Poet Populist & local laureate collaborate

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The last reader of Julian Barnes

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More fun with ©

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A profile of Margaret Gibson

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The Wharton estate struggles

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Poetry on the radio in Zimbabwe

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Poets & thieves

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The last newspaper

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Between criticism & intolerance

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Questioning the politics of tenure

§

In search of “Tom Thumb’s Blues

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Angus Fairhurst is dead

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From Bauhaus to Black Mountain

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An exhibition of fierce pussy

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Faint praise for Jasper Johns

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Art Institute cowers at threats from animal activists

§

The world’s oldest adolescent

§

Publications are dumping movie critics

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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
3805
Locust Walk
University
of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia

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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Wednesday, April 02, 2008

 


Photo courtesy of Big Bridge


Rochelle Ratner

19482008

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Tuesday, April 01, 2008

 

If you look at the sax reeds in this picture closely, you will note that each is cut or notched, altered in some fashion so as to render them difficult to play. Play them – or at least some of them – the James Fei Alto Saxophone Quartet did last Tuesday at the Rotunda in Philadelphia. This is roughly two & one-half blocks from Writers House & across the street (more or less) from the Slought Foundation art gallery. I say more or less because the Rotunda is set back from the street & you have to walk down a bit of an alley & enter through a most unpresupposing door. Once there, tho, you’re in one of the best spaces for music in Philadelphia. With Last Words Bookstore, one of the city’s best used book dealers, just around the corner on 40th, the Institute for Contemporary Arts & International House all in the immediate vicinity, you’re in Philadelphia’s real avenue of the arts here, far more so than the institutional fare on Broad Street.

The Taiwanese-born Fei, who looks at least a decade younger than his 34 years, brought his quartet to town to recreate the extraordinary works gathered together on James Fei Alto Quartets, the most recent CD from Fei’s Organized Sound label. Altered quartets is the way my mind wants to rework that title. Fei, who spends as much time working with live electronics as he does on his various saxophones, approaches the sax much the same way that Jimi Hendrix once approached the electric guitar or Cecil Taylor approaches the piano, which is to say that any aspect of the instrument might be employed to make sound, from “crippled” reeds (Fei’s word choice) to moisture in the horn’s bell, to playing so very shrill that the audience doesn’t so much hear the music as it does feel it, literally standing those microscopic hairs of the inner ear on end – simply cup a hand over your ear & the sound disappears entirely. You can hear “Work for crippled reeds” as an MP3 here.

Fei may still be better known as a side man to Anthony Braxton than on his own (Braxton shows up as a side man to Fei on one track of the Quartets) and Fei’s work shares Braxton’s intensely cerebral approach to jazz tradition, albeit with more of the rigor of the minimalist. The quartet’s current lineup – Fei, Jeff Hudgins, Jackson Moore & Aaron Ali Shaikh -- have all worked with Braxton or John Zorn, making it perhaps the most post-avant sax quartet since ROVA.¹ Minimalist not in the sense of Steve Reich’s (or Phil Glass’ or Terry Riley’s) phased reiterations, but rather each piece broken into the exploration of a single aspect of what’s possible, what I think of as the Command Idea. In a work like “Study III (Saliva)” (MP3), the quartet sits – they’re always sitting – with each musician leaning back, the bell of their horns resting on the knee of a crossed leg², so that the bell captures all of the musician’s supplemental moisture. It sounds half as if they are playing under water (& in a way they are), then as if they were playing while drowning. Similarly, what you hear in the piece for “crippled” reeds are the reeds. As is true with any form of minimalism – think of Bob Grenier’s micropoetics – what occurs is the magnification of one element of the work, which at times appears to have been blown up to the proportions of a public sculpture in an urban plaza.

Talking with Fei after the performance, he talks about bringing forward the “inaudible” aspects of music, the elements a musician is trained to minimize and which the audience pretends it can’t hear, exactly like moisture in the bell. This is so similar to what a lot of the best contemporary poetry is doing that one hardly needs to translate media in order to discuss the aspects of it from one field to the next.

Fei will be performing solo at the Cue Foundation Gallery in New York next month, as part of a reading that Charles Alexander & I will be giving in celebration of Cynthia Miller’s show that I curated. The event will be on Friday, April 25th, the day after the show’s opening, and you would be advised to bring both eyes and ears to this event. I’ll give out more details a little closer to the date.

 

¹ I say post-avant because I think it’s more or less impossible to be avant-garde with a straight face in the 21st century, but it should be noted that jazz or post-jazz still carries with it some of the trappings of the Olde Avant world, musicians mimicking mad scientists – Moore’s own group calls itself the Laboratory Band and Braxton’s scores look like something Lt. Whorf would use to command the bridge of the Enterprise.

² See the image of Fei on the lower left here playing this piece.

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Monday, March 31, 2008

 

Rod Smith on Ceptuetics (MP3)

Plus Kenny Goldsmith (MP3)

& Bruce Andrews (MP3) & Kim Rosenfield (MP3)

§

New York Times obit for Jonathan Williams

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Indiana cancels Constitution

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Talking with Blas Falconer

Emily Pérez on Falconer

Falconer on the experience & aesthetics of
the Other Rican

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Joshua Marie Wilkinson
reading at Stephanie Young’s house
(MP3)

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Rae Armantrout’s Next Life

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Javier Huerta in conversation with Miguel Murphy

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The poems of Vaan Nguyen

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Poems from an attic

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Robert Fagles has died

A test of translation

§

Gordon Brown’s favorite poem

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Textsound, accent on the sound

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Beth Ann Fennelly’s Unmentionables

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The oldest bookstore in Canada is kaput!

§

Humans were not built for reading

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From John Lowther’s long poem Stoppages

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A Rotary Club takes note of Robert Creeley & John Ashbery

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Muggles enrolling in Potter studies

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Have books about books
replaced books?

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Patricia Smith’s Teahouse of the Almighty

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Talking with Mark Strand

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Talking with Alfred Arteaga

Craig Santos Perez on Arteaga

§

Hugo Claus has died

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Bill Brown’s Late Winter

§

A new e-book on iPaper from Tomaž Šalamun

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On finding one’s name in The Constructivist Moment

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Ruth Dallas has died

§

The poet as rock star – Mary Oliver

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Amazon goes after Lulu

§

Lorenzen’s, the last used bookstore in Little Rock,
is shutting down

§

Indie bookstores in Austin

§

Brits don’t read the classics

What British teens
do & do not read

§

The vanishing newspaper

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Joyelle McSweeney on Mónica de la Torre

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Six new poems from John Wilkinson

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Oe & Okinawa

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Why plagiarism in books gets by

§

Rich Villar’sArs Poetica in Progress”

§

A profile of Kevin Higgins

§

April is the cruelest month
& getting crueler every year

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Poetry Everywhere in Milwaukee

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A reading series in Salem, MA

§

The most successful Indian novelist

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A profile of Robin Robertson

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Touring Longfellow’s home

§

Form, formalism & literary memory

§

The poetry scene in Northern Nevada

And Central Michigan

§

Robert Crawford, “agog at technology”

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Mary Karr on Louise Gluck

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Byron’s editor

§

The Polish journalist’s posthumous poems

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A new collection from Young Smith

§

Locating the book review section

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The worst Henry James title ever

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The love poems of Sylvia Townsend Warner

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When writing fiction shuts down the poetry

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The end of customer service

§

Why is El Greco worth less than a Koons?

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Art & race

§

Enrique Chagoya at the Berkeley Art Museum

§

Art vs. history in San Francisco

§

The latest chapter in the old
Is graffiti art?” debate

§

A Governor General’s Award
to a performance artist

§

Alvin Ailey gets both a street
& a Barbie Doll

§

The chimp who thought he was a boy

§

A big tip of the hat to
The Latino Poetry Review
from whose big first issue
we’ve taken just a few choice links

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