Monday, August 06, 2018


David Bromige:
Posthumous World Tour

There will be a series of readings on both coasts to celebrate the life and poetry of David Bromige (1933 – 2009), the London-born, Canadian-American poet. In addition to the three editors of if wants to be the same as is: Essential Poems of David Bromige, Jack Krick, Bob Perelman and Ron Silliman, plus a host of David’s friends, the opening event in Sebastopol will also feature the world premiere of James Garrahan’s documentary Incremental Windows, based on a series of interviews with Bromige. Books will be available.

Friday, August 17, 6 PM
Sebastopol Center for the Arts
282 High Street
Sebastopol, CA

Saturday, August 18, 6 PM
Alley Cat Books,
3036 24th Street
San Francisco

Tuesday, September 25, 6 PM
Kelly Writers House
3805 Locust Walk

Wednesday, September 26, 8 PM
St. Marks Church,
131 E. 10th Street
New York City

Sunday, September 30, 6PM
Bridge Street Books
2814 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC

Friday, October 12
Details to be determined
Vancouver, BC

Sunday, October 14
Details to be determined
Seattle, WA

Monday, January 22, 2018


Writing Across Borders

Penn Students: I still have a few seats available in my Writing Across Borders class that meets on Wednesdays from 2 until 5 in Kelly Writers House (upstairs in room 203). Feel free to join the class.

Writing Across Borders, English 127.301

Butterflies and hurricanes pay no heed to borders, but humans will risk their lives to cross them, build walls to mark them and kill to defend them. At a moment when the number of displaced persons is just under one percent of the human race, more than at any time since the Second World War, and is projected to rise steeply over the next 30 years, questions of borders and identities are inescapable in our writing. This topic will define the next century. What does it mean to talk of American poetry?  How do our heritage(s) as citizen, resident, explorer, refugee, immigrant, tourist, trader, slave or raider condition the present and future of writing. How do race, class and gender enter in? This class will examine recent texts that explore these questions as well as look to the future. Authors under consideration will include (among many others) Caroline Bergvall, Amiri Baraka, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Aimé Césaire, Habib Tengour, M. NourbeSe Philip, Divya Victor and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We will watch films by Nikita Mikhalov and Ousmane Sembene. There will be opportunities to look at some of the theoretical and historical backgrounds of these issues if a student should so wish.

Required texts (not otherwise online)
Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche, Americanah
Caroline Bergvall, Drift
Aimé Césaire, Notebook of a Return to the Native Landtranslated & edited by Clayton Eshleman & Annette Smith with an introduction by André Breton
Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee
M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong!
Habib TengourExile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Readeredited and translated by Pierre Joris
Divya Victor, Kith

     Major online resources
Poetry Foundation’s collection: Poems on Immigration
Eclipse Archive: The Black Radical Tradition
Leonard Schwartz: Cross Cultural Poetics

Recommended works
Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities
Wendy Brown, Walled States, Waning Sovereignty
Aimé Césaire, Discourse on Colonialism,
C.S. Giscombe, Border Towns
Pierre Joris, A Nomad Poetics
Claudia Rankine et al, The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind
Ousman Sembene, any of his films, but especially 
CeddoBlack GirlXala and Moolaadé
TC Tolbert & Tim Trace Peterson, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
Heriberto Yépez
Transnational Battle Field (the strikethrough is intentional)

Sunday, December 24, 2017


Saturday, November 04, 2017


Reading Tonight


Peter Manson

fresh from the symposium

on the man & his work

at the University of Glasgow


The Hiding Place

in the Bok Building
1901 S. 9th Street

Room 306


7 to 10 PM


Wednesday, October 25, 2017


My nephew, Luke, turns 18 today. His plan in life is to become a filmmaker. This past August, he spent most of the month at our house and we got to go together to Manhattan, to Philly and to DC -- watching him explore is itself an education, and a good operational definition for me of the meaning of happiness.

Luke had just started at Columbia College in Chicago this month when he fell from a bridge, a 30-foot drop, breaking his leg, hip and pelvis as well as cracking his spine. He has a long, hard recovery ahead of him. He's a great, brilliant kid and strong enough to do everything he will need to do, but in the nation of capitalist healthcare with just out-of-state Medicaid, he needs all the support he can get just to make it through the basics of recovery the next few months. More details on his sister's GoFundMe page, raising funds to help him stay in school as he heels. Anything you can do will be appreciated!!


Sunday, September 03, 2017


The Worldwide Reading
of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights on September 6, 2017


Presented by
Poetry In Common, Peace / Works,
Leonard Gontarek and Alicia Askenase

With Poets And Writers including:

The Event Will Include A Reading Of The 30 Articles Of The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights By The Poets And Writers, As Well As A Reading Of Their Own Work And Others.

The date is Wednesday, September 6, 2017, 4 PM.
The time is 4-6 PM.
The location is The Plateau,
a sculpture located on 40th Street in West Philadelphia,
next to the Walnut Street West Library,
which is on the Southeast corner of 40th & Walnut Streets, Philadelphia PA, USA.
The event is outdoors – and free

Saturday, July 22, 2017


My reading at the University of Paris Diderot

with translations by Martin Richet

March 7, 2017

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Monday, May 22, 2017


Within the past year, there have been three major motion pictures built around poets and poetry – Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson,  Pablo Larrain’s Neruda, and Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion, a biopic of Emily Dickinson played by Cynthia Nixon. Only in the first of these is the poetry – penned by Ron Padgett but assigned in the film to a Paterson, NJ bus driver likewise named Paterson – really what the film is about. In each, the question of the writer’s relationships is central to the film’s scope and development, and to some degree one could read these films as different studies in what happens when a human being takes on this mysterious second skin as a writer of verse.

Paterson, which is about a fictional writer in the downscale industrial suburb of New York that looks nostalgically to its poetic heritage (as well as to comic Lou Costello) for a last, lingering sense of worth, is constructed around one of the sweetest relationships in recent film, between Adam Driver’s quietly brooding Paterson, a meditative-to-depressive soul who doesn’t say a lot, and his perpetually optimistic starter-of-a-million-creative-projects girlfriend, Laura (Goldshiftah Farahani), a gal who comes with her own color scheme. This may well be Adam Driver’s best film performance, and you can see and sense him writing as he overhears conversations in the course of daily life. 

The relationship in Neruda is less between the poet and his partner Delia del Carril (Mercedes Morán) than between Pablo and Óscar Peluchonneau, the Director General of Police Investigations charged with bringing Neruda in during one of Chile’s periodic neo-fascist periods in the 1940s. Played by Gael García Bernal as a noir cop – more a wannabe Bogart than a Broderick Crawford – Peluchonneau becomes obsessed with his target, who rouses opposition to the crackdown by refusing to escape the country, preferring instead to visit the brothels that are portrayed here more as nightclubs for intellectuals with half-naked ladies there for the fucking. Pointedly, when Carril suggests getting pregnant as a means of defying the regime, Neruda (who in “real life” had one son he didn’t see after his Dutch first wife went back to Europe) heads straight to the brothel where everyone interrupts what they’re doing to watch him read. 

A Quiet Passion is more disciplined in its treatment of its poet, but not a lot. The screen play with its consciously stilted dialog presents the role of 19th century bourgeois women as nearly as constrained as that of  The Handmaid’s Tale, which it suggests is very much the way Dickinson herself wanted it. Gradually the poet reduces her contact with men to her brother Austen, whose affair with Mabel Loomis Todd is treated entirely from the perspective of Dickinson’s negative reaction. Notably absent is her most important male relationship, with Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who is not mentioned once. A viewer can be forgiven for not suspecting that Higginson and Todd were the editors who first made Dickinson famous. In standard Hollywood cliché, we see Dickinson writing with Nixon’s off-screen voice-over augmented by music to signal its quality. 

Were it not for Nixon’s superb performance playing a prickly, brittle personality who is becoming just a little crazier by the year, but who dies of Bright’s Disease before she can get to mad-woman-in-the-attic status, there wouldn’t be much to see in A Quiet Passion. Neruda is not García Bernal’s best work and there is not enough focus on Luis Gnecco’s Neruda, period. But I could watch a nine-hour version of Driver guiding his bus, going to the local tavern, straightening his mailbox, sleeping beside Laura, penning patient little poems one word at a time. Oddly enough, the fate of Driver’s poems is more of an issue in the Jarmusch film than Dickinson’s in Passion. But then, for Jarmusch, they’re real poems. And that makes all the difference. 

In each case, the film’s tension is at least in part between a figure and this other thing they are involved with beyond any relationship, as if poetry were a code for any kind of interest in a serious pursuit outside of the conjugal bed. Paterson could be making whirligigs for all it matters: his interest in the poem doesn’t compete with his love for Laura any more than her painting the shower curtains competes with hers. Neruda as played by Gnecco is self-important, far more readily a politician than a poet, but also an inspiration to the popular resistance. His partner’s self-abnegation is an effect of a cruelty he’s not even conscious of. But tellingly this is not a film about the poet and his partner so much as it is about Bernal’s unrequited desire for his suspect, the homoerotics of detective work. Dickinson on the other hand makes a point, repeatedly, of turning away from relationships, to the point that she stops seeing outsiders at all. You wouldn’t know from this film that two-thirds of her poetry was written before she was thirty-six, and that her final two decades were much less about her writing than the decades before.


Thursday, March 23, 2017


Joanne in the Himalayas 1962, photo by Allen Ginsberg

e-mail to Linda Russo from Ron Silliman

Date sent:     Tue, 28 Apr 1998 05:00:30 -0500 (CDT)
Subject:      Re: Silliman on Kyger

On 04/27/98 20:10:48 you wrote:
>Dear Ron Silliman --
>you maybe recognize as a sometime poetix listperson --
>i've been only skimming posts lately (busy) but I was wondering if you
>could say more abt. Joanne Kyger being the most influencial progressive
>woman poet of the 60s - 70s. She's been important to me & it does seem,
>considering the scope of her work, that she *should* be important, but
>doesn't seem so considered. So i wonder if you'd be willing to tell me a
>thing or two, or maybe point me to something you've published re kyger.
>thanks --
>Linda Russo

Dear Linda, 

Been thinking about this myself over the past few days. Kyger's not in the [Paul] Hoover [anthology Postmodern American Poetry] or the [Douglas] Messerli [anthology From The Other Side of the Century] and absent even from Moving Borders [ed. Mary Margaret Sloan], an anthology I imagine as having been premised on precisely this sort of omission (though I argued over this with Margy Sloan, who simply doesn't know the work and doesn't have the historical depth I wish she had -- she told me that she was only using writers from the late '70s onward, so I was surprised to see Niedecker, Guest and Fraser, all of whom are contemporaneous with Joanne or, in Lorine's case, even earlier).
Joanne Kyger was a student of Hugh Kenner's at UC Santa Barbara in the 1950s who moved to SF where she became the only woman to participate as an equal in the otherwise remarkably misogynist Spicer circle. She married Gary Snyder and traveled with him to Japan (and, also with Gary, to India where they traveled about with Ginsberg). Back in SF she was also best friends with John Weiners and is the Miss Kits he refers to in his Scott Street journals. She worked for awhile as a TV producer for the local PBS station (this was 35 years ago, when such a job was not impossible for somebody just roughly creative and intelligent to go get), then moved to "the Mesa" which is a hill overlooking the ocean in Bolinas (there are two other neighborhoods to that small town, a section by the road coming in, neighboring -- literally -- a lagoon that's one of the great birdwatching spots in northern California, then the downtown itself, nestled betwixt the beach, the lagoon and the Mesa. During the early 1970s, Creeley and Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Lewis and Phoebe Macadams, Larry Kearney, Peter Warshall, Bill Berkson, Bob Grenier, Richard Duerden, Tom and Angelica Clark, were all living in Bolinas, a town with a population of just 300. Phil Whalen was there for awhile also before his duties in the Zen Center became full-time.
Joanne's influence on Grenier is palpable, it really is the connection between his fascination with Creeley (he edited RC's first Selected Poems), and his own later work which is so much about how thought emerges. 

Joanne has never ever been one to push her own work, but there was a time circa 1970 when every poet I knew owned a copy of The Tapestry and the Web, her first book (I have no idea where my own copy disappeared to -- I'm certain I never sold it, although it may have gone off in my divorce from my first wife back in '72). In 1975, Berkson published her second book, All This Every Day, and Kenward Elmslie I believe was behind the 3rd one, The Wonderful Focus of You, John Martin publishing Just Space (poems 1979-89) from his Black Sparrow press. There's also a chapbook that contains a poem based a local indian tale, Up My Coast and most recently a big book of her Japan and India Journals from Tombouctou. SPD would still have whatever is in print. There've been other chapbooks, I know. The National Poetry Foundation is talking about doing a big selected poems sometime in the future, although there needs to be (I hope) a book of the poetry since 1989. 

The very first poetry reading I ever produced, in 1974, was a benefit for a Bay Area prison reform group. My readers were Creeley, Kyger and Dorn and in the context of SF in that year it was very much a line-up of people recognized as equals. 400 people attended. 

I've written at some length about the disappearance of poets and how it reconfigures history into something unrecognizable to those present at the event. This isn't always bad -- Ferlinghetti was shocked to see that anyone was still interested in Spicer as recently as a year or two ago. But all too often it leads to this sort of erasure of a major writer. 

I don't know if you know Joanne's work. It has its closest affinities, I think, with Whalen, Grenier and, though I don't know how well she knows him, Anselm Hollo (Joanne has a terrific sense of humor in her writing, which may in fact actually work against her being taken as seriously as she deserves). I know that Bobbie Louise Hawkins has wanted her to come and teach full-time at Naropa for years, but Joanne (who has no visible means of employment, though she must live on very little money) seems willing only to do the occasional workshop there. 

She's one of our hidden treasures -- the poet who really links the Beats, the Spicer Circle, the Bolinas poets, the NY School and the language poets, and the only poet who can be said to do all of the above. 

All best,
Ron Silliman

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Friday, February 24, 2017


Tour de France

Reading & Interview with Martin Richet
Sunday, March 5,  2:00 pm
Maison de la Poésie de Nantes

The unique place
Quai Ferdinand Favre, Nantes
Admission free

Part of the Atlantide Festival of Literature

Poets & Critics Symposium
Tuesday, March 7, & Wednesday, March 8, 9:45 am-5:00 pm
Room 830 (8th floor of the Olympe de Gouges Building)
Université Paris 7 Denis Diderot, Bâtiment Olympe de Gouges

with translations by Martin Richet
Tuesday, March 7, 6:30 pm
Hall de la Bibliothèque des Grands Moulins
 5, rue Thomas Mann, 75013 Paris

Reading & Discussion with Martin Richet
Friday, March 10, 7:00 pm
centre international de poésie Marseille
entre de la Vieille Charité
2, rue de la Charité
13 236 Marseille Cedex 02

Events organized in partnership with
Double Change, the House of Poetry of Nantes

& the International Center for Poetry, Marseile

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