Saturday, January 15, 2011

Friday, January 14, 2011

Jess: The Enamored Mage

Can Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book
“save American art”?

New Lorca manuscript
“hidden in plain sight”

Rae Armantrout:
Just Saying
New Intelligence

Peter Frank on Michael Gottlieb’s
Memoir & Essay

B.H. Friedman has died

As has Malangatana Ngwenya

the performance

Talking with Charlotte Mandell
about translating Mathias Énard

Énard’s Zone

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Contemporary Chinese Poetry

On December 9, a large delegation of poets from Wuhan, the most populous city in central China, visited Kelly Writers House at Penn. For nearly all, this was the first visit to the U.S. These poets – Liang Biwen, Liu Yishan, Chen Ying-Song, Tiang He, Wang Xinmin, Ke Yumin, Hu Xiang & Liu An – read and then had their poetry read in English by one of a team of volunteer translators: Bob Perelman , Sarah Dowling , Michelle Taransky , Charles Bernstein , Greg Djanikian & Yanrong. Yarong is the current scholar-in-residence at the Chinese/American Association of Poetry and Poetics (CAAP). The process was then reversed, with texts by Bernstein, Dowling, Djanikian, Taransky & Perelman (“China”!) translated into Chinese.

Video of the entire event

Downloadable audio here

Complete texts in English & Chinese

In 2009, as part of its Writers Without Borders series, Writers House hosted Zhimin Li, a poet who teaches at Guangzhou University (Guangzhou is the city most Americans my age think of as Canton) & sits on the CAAP board. Li gave a reading & a talk on new Chinese poetry.

Downloadable audio of the full reading here

Downloadable audio of Li’s talk here

Text of Li’s talk – New Chinese Poetry:
The Origin & Development from the Perspective
of Cultural Exchanges between China & the West

Access to segmented poems is available
through Zhimin Li’s page on PennSound

Call for papers
First Convention of
The Chinese/American Association for Poetry & Poetics
Wuhan, China
September 28 30, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

It was Shigeyoshi “Shig” Murao, not Lawrence Ferlinghetti, who was arrested by the San Francisco police department for selling a copy of Howl on June 3, 1957. As I noted in my original review last September. Shig, the manager of City Lights Books from the mid-1950s until 1976, spent the night in the Bryant Street jail and was bailed out the following day. He was tried alongside Ferlinghetti, but where the latter had published the book as well as owned the bookstore in which it was sold, and thus really depended on the Judge Horn’s ruling that Howl was not obscene, Murao had only to testify that he didn’t know its contents and had not read every single book in the store.

Having been interned in the US concentration camps for the Japanese in the first years of the Second World War, Murao later served as a US intelligence specialist in the South Pacific. I don’t know of any other job he had during his career, though he must have done something between the end of the War and when he was hired at the bookstore in 1955. In his day, Shig was as much an icon of City Lights as was Ferlinghetti. He died in 1999.

The one person of color in the history of the Howl bust and trial, Shig does not appear anywhere in the motion picture Howl & thus nobody portrays him in the Epstein-Friedman film. Of the first 68 entries into my little contest, somewhat less than half got the two questions correct. The first three to get both right did so within 35 minutes of the contest being posted. They are, in order,

Steven Coons of Salt Lake City
Stephen Ross of Oxford, UK
David Wilk of Weston, Connecticut

During the first couple of hours, most of the responses guessed Ferlinghetti – it was a logical choice, but way too easy, an obvious misdirection (or so I imagined) – but by early evening, most of the entries still trickling in were right.

It’s worth noting that Oscilloscope, the distributors of the film, knew in advance exactly what my questions were going to be, and the answers, and thought it was a great idea. Shig’s absence from the film may have been the strangest erasure since Tom Bombadil disappeared from Lord of the Rings, but it’s in the redactive nature of filmic narrative, not unlike having none of the other major characters – Kerouac, Cassady, even Ferlinghetti – say a single line, not explaining the historic nature of the reading at the Six Gallery, tho it’s shown on screen, or leaving out more famous witnesses than those presented, including Kenneth Rexroth, Mark Linenthal, Walter Van Tilburg Clark & Herbert Blau, or maybe even – I think the jury’s out on this one – filming the bulk of the movie in New York City.

My thanks to Oscilloscope, to all who sent entries, and especially to the memory of Shig Murao, who took the hit for poetry readers worldwide. We owe you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

A contest for
the best minds of my generation

Howl, the motion picture by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, a film that I have called both “a wonderful motion picture” and “the best exposition of a poem in a major motion picture,” is now available on DVD & Blue-Ray. You no longer need live within driving distance of a major urban center or a good college art house film scene in order to view it. And view it you should. Franco as the young Ginsberg is fantastic. The DVD also has extra features not previously available and comes with English & French subtitle options.

The film was nominated for a Grand Jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Golden Berlin Bear prize at the Berlin Film Festival. Carter Burwell was nominated for film composer of the year award for this and four other films at the World Soundtrack Awards. Howl won the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review.

I have a copy of the new DVD of Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman’s motion picture Howl, starring James Franco as Allen Ginsberg, for the first three readers of this blog who correctly answer the following two questions:

Who actually spent time in jail when the SFPD “busted” Howl?

Who played this person in the film?

Members of my family, immediate & extended, and regular contributors to this blog are not eligible. Neither are current or former employees of City Lights nor residents of Nowhere Zen, New Jersey. Send your entries via email to Silliman AT gmail DOT com. You must put HOWL CONTEST in the headline.

Here is Ginsberg at Reed College in February, 1956, giving the earliest recorded reading of Howl. This may be the only recording of the poem where an audience has never before actually read the text. Ginsberg was hitch-hiking around the Northwest with Gary Snyder at the time, and reads only the first part of the poem. Interesting to note where (and how nervously) the laughter falls.

Monday, January 10, 2011

January 10 in Philadelphia
Susan Stewart & Leonard Gontarek

January 10 in NYC
Christian Hawkey & Jen Bervin

January 11 in Boston
Stephen Sturgeon & Melissa Watt

January 12 in St. Petersburg, FL
The new Dali Museum opens to public

January 12 in NYC
Charles Borkhuis & Paula Cisewski

January 12 in Chicago
Christopher Woods
“Visible Language: The Earliest Writing Systems”

January 13 in Chicago
Matthea Harvey

January 13 in Philadelphia
Kevin Varrone, Karen Rile, Angel Hogan

January 13 & 14 in Chicago
Susan Stewart

January 13 – March 20 in Philadelphia
Anne Tyng: Inhabiting Geometry
Shary Boyle & Emily Duke
The Illuminations Project

January 14 in Fallbrook, CA
Rae Armantrout

January 14 in Tucson
William Burroughs: The Man Within

January 14 in Nashville
William Burroughs: The Man Within

January 14 in Doylestown, PA
Pam Perkins-Frederick

January 14 – 16 in Portland, OR
A marathon reading of Charles Olson
Jesse Morse, Jennifer Bartlett, Zachary Schomburg,
Dan Raphael, Laura Feldman, Michael Weaver,
James Yeary, David Abel, Alicia Cohen,
Sam Lohmann, Jaye Harris, Donald Dunbar, John Hall,
Susan Rankin, Rodney Koeneke, Endi Bogue Hartigan,
Lisa Radon, Linda Austin, Tim DuRoche, Pat Hartigan,
Mere Blankenship, Joseph Mains, Jamalieh Haley

Sunday, January 09, 2011