Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers

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09/26/2021
Volume 23 Issue 2 | Literary Imagination | Oxford Academic

We have asked Oxford University Press to take down the paywall for the special issue of Literary Imagination on literature and race, and make it available to the public. We believe the issue makes a rich contribution on a timely and important topic, and hope you will share it widely.

Here is a link to an electronic copy: https://academic.oup.com/litimag/issue/23/2

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide

09/16/2021

We are delighted to announce a very special issue of Literary Imagination and a very special event. The fall issue of Literary Imagination contains poetry by writers of color and essays concerning race by an array of critics. The journal’s editors didn’t provide our contributors with a prompt beyond asking them to write about something related to race that they found compelling. The result was a broad range of insightful essays and powerful poems that provide examples of how to write about race in ways that don’t reduce literature—or humanity—to sociology.

We are deeply grateful to our participants, contributors, and to all of you for your support of the ALSCW. Information can be found at ALSCW.org.

Literary Imagination: A Special Issue on Race and Literature
Zoom program, Wednesday, September 22, 6 pm EDT

Moderator: Rosanna Warren, Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Professor, University of Chicago

Panelists and contributors:
Major Jackson, Gertrude Vanderbilt Chair in the Humanities, Vanderbilt University

Robert Levine, Distinguished University Professor, University
of Maryland, College Park

Dante Micheaux, Poet

Rebecca Rainof, Associate Research Scholar, Princeton University

Elizabeth Samet, Professor of English, West Point

Lenora Warren, Assistant Professor of English, Cornell University

CONTENTS: SPECIAL ISSUE, Fall 2021

Introduction, Ernest Suarez

ESSAYS

John Burt, ‘Political Violence and the Persuasive Engagement in Frederick Douglass’

Rebecca Rainof, ‘Mixed Feelings’

Robert S. Levine, ‘Isabel Wilkerson, Albion Tourgée, and the Problem of Caste in the United States’

Brian Richardson, ‘The New Formalism and Heart of Darkness: Aesthetic and Ideological Parallels, Oppositions, and Symmetries’

Debra Romanick Baldwin, ‘Teaching Heart of Darkness Now’

Diana Senechal, ‘Plessy v. Ferguson and the Dissenting Opinion in the Classroom’

David Mikics, ‘Ellison’s Invisible Man and Faulkner’s Light in August: An Argument over Black and White’

David Bromwich, ‘Ellison and the Visibility of Laughter’

Elizabeth Samet, ‘Undressing Tragedy’s Skeleton’

Ruth Williams, 'Writing White: Martha Collins's Poetry of Collective Memory'

Lenora Warren, ‘ “Black Artillery”: Herman Melville and the Unthinkability of White Mob Violence in Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War’.
POETRY

Major Jackson, 'Restrictive Covenant' from Urban Renewal

Nicole Sealey, ‘Pages 30-34, an excerpt from The Ferguson Report: An Erasure’

Dante Micheaux, 'Audition’; 'Eclogue'; from 'Pelham'; from 'Siege of the Great Plantation'

Rita Dove, ‘News Cycle’

Ishion Hutchinson, ‘Centurion’

ALSCW.ORG
ALSCW Homepage | ALSCW

ALSCW Meringoff Writing Award Winners                                                  We are delighted to announce the ...
06/04/2021

ALSCW Meringoff Writing Award Winners

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2020 Meringoff Writing Awards! The awards include a prize of $3,500 each and publication in Literary Matters. The Meringoff Writing Awards are given annually in the categories of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

1) Non-Fiction: Oliver Spivey for “'The Secret Rhythm of Chance': The Nabokovian Vision of Tragedy in Pale Fire"

Oliver Spivey earned his BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (2011) and his MA from North Carolina State University (2013). Spivey is currently a PhD candidate in literature at Oklahoma State University. His interests include tragedy and the tragic vision in American fiction, the works of Melville and Hawthorne, British literature, traditional humanistic criticism, close reading and aesthetics, and classic cinema. Spivey is the recipient of several awards and scholarships, including The Jeffrey Walker Early American Studies Scholarship (OSU), the 2011 North Carolina College Media Association Award for poetry (third place), and the Grace Loving Gibson Endowed Scholarship for Excellence in English (UNCP). His critical writings have appeared in such outlets as Areo Magazine, VoegelinView, and The University Bookman. He lives with his wife, Jessica, and son, Nathaniel, in Stillwater, Oklahoma.

2) Fiction: Anca Nemoianu for "Truffles and Grapes"

Anca Nemoianu has taught linguistics for a long time at the Catholic University of America, and, occasionally, an introductory literature class. Lately, she has started writing stories about imagined people in very real lands. Her story “Justice by Night” won the 9th Annual F. Scott Fitzgerald short story contest. Her volume Children of Light, 2018, is a collection of semi-memorialistic narratives about children, for older readers who might be able to see the light emanating from the dark settings of the stories.

3) Poetry: Brian Brodeur for ‘Corn Poppets,’ ‘Barcode Ode,’ and ‘Space Junk.’

Brian Brodeur is the author most recently of Every Hour Is Late (Measure Press, 2019). New poems and essays appear in Hopkins Review, Gettysburg Review, Southern Review, and The Writer’s Chronicle. Founder and Coordinator of the digital interview archive “How a Poem Happens,” Brian lives with his wife and daughter in the Whitewater River Valley. He teaches creative writing and American literature at Indiana University East.

We're delighted to announce that Major Jackson of Vanderbilt University, Richard Russell of Baylor University, and David...
01/26/2021

We're delighted to announce that Major Jackson of Vanderbilt University, Richard Russell of Baylor University, and David Yezzi of Johns Hopkins University will join ALSCW Council. Their bios and a list of our current officers and Council members are below. The make up of Council reflects one of the ALSCW's primary goals: to encourage exchanges between critics, creative writers, and other artists. For more information see ALSCW.org

Major Jackson is the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University. His volumes of poetry include The Absurd Man, Roll Deep, Holding Company, Hoops, and Leaving Saturn, recipient of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His edited volumes include Best American Poetry 2019, Renga for Obama, and Library of America’s Countee Cullen: Collected Poems. A recipient of fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, he has been awarded a New England Book Award, Pushcart Prize, Whiting Writers’ Award, and has been honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. He serves as poetry editor of The Harvard Review.

A native of West Tennessee, Richard Rankin Russell is Professor of English and Graduate Program Director at Baylor University and past Baylor Centennial Professor. He won the Robert Penn Warren/Cleanth Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism and the Foreword Reviews INDIEFAB Book of the Year in History--both for Seamus Heaney's Regions (Notre Dame, 2014). Russell's Poetry and Peace: Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney, and Northern Ireland (Notre Dame, 2010) has also won awards from South Atlantic MLA and the South Central MLA for the best academic monograph of 2010. He has served as Vice-President and President of ALSCW.

David Yezzi’s latest books of poetry are Black Sea (2018), Birds of the Air (2013), and the forthcoming More Things in Heaven: New and Selected Poems (2021). He is the editor of The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets (2009), foreword by J. D. McClatchy. His verse play Schnauzer (2018), produced by The Baltimore Poets Theater, was recently published by Exot Books. His libretto for David Conte’s opera Firebird Motel has been performed widely and is available on CD from Arsis. A former director of the Unterberg Poetry Center of the 92nd Street Y in New York, he teaches in the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins and edits of The Hopkins Review.

PRESIDENT
Lee Oser, College of the Holy Cross

VICE PRESIDENT
David Bromwich, Yale University

IMMEDIATE PAST PRESIDENT
Kate Daniels, Vanderbilt University

SECRETARY
Rebecca Rainof, Princeton University

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Ernest Suarez, Catholic University

Council
Henry Hart, William and Mary
Garrett Hongo, University of Oregon
Major Jackson, Vanderbilt University
Robert Levine, University of Maryland, College Park
Mike Mattison, Tedeschi Trucks Band
Richard Russell, Baylor University
Mary Jo Salter, Johns Hopkins University
Diana Senechal, New York, New York
Lisa Russ Spaar, University of Virginia
Meg Tyler, Boston University
Rosanna Warren, University of Chicago
David Yezzi, Johns Hopkins University

Poetry in the Age of Black Lives MattersALSCW Zoom SeriesNovember 11, 6 pm ESTMajor Jackson is a recipient of a Guggenhe...
11/05/2020

Poetry in the Age of Black Lives Matters

ALSCW Zoom Series
November 11, 6 pm EST

Major Jackson is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Richard A. Dennis Professor of English at the University of Vermont, where he teaches creative writing, contemporary poetry, and African American literature. He is the author of five books of poetry, including the forthcoming volume The Absurd Man (Norton: 2020). His edited volumes include Best American Poetry 2019 and Renga for Obama. He serves as poetry editor of The Harvard Review.

Gregory Pardlo's collection Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Other honors include fellowships from the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and Director of the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden. His most recent book is Air Traffic, a memoir in essays.

This event is free, but registration is required. Click here to register (a link to the event will be sent to you within 48 hours of registration): https://forms.gle/q61uu4bdAaNsZWnV9

October 14th, 6 pm EST: Marjorie Perloff in conversation with Rosanna Warren about her new biography Max Jacob: A Life i...
10/08/2020

October 14th, 6 pm EST: Marjorie Perloff in conversation with Rosanna Warren about her new biography Max Jacob: A Life in Art (Norton)

As Picasso reinvented painting, Jacob helped to reinvent poetry with compressed, hard-edged prose poems and synapse-skipping verse lyrics, the product of a complex amalgamation of Jewish, Breton, Parisian, and Roman Catholic influences. In Max Jacob, the poet’s life plays out against the vivid backdrop of bohemian Paris from the turn of the twentieth century through the divisions of World War II. Acclaimed poet Rosanna Warren transports us to Picasso’s ramshackle studio in Montmartre, where Cubism was born; introduces the artists gathered at a seedy bar on the left bank, where Max would often hold court; and offers a front-row seat to the artistic squabbles that shaped the Modernist movement. Jacob’s complex understanding of faith, art, and s*xuality animates this sweeping work. In February 1944, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to Drancy, where he would die a few days later.

More than thirty years in the making, this landmark biography offers a compelling, tragic portrait of Jacob as a man and as an artist alongside a rich study of his groundbreaking poetry—in Warren’s own stunning translations. Max Jacob is a nuanced, deeply researched, and essential contribution to Modernist scholarship.

Marjorie Perloff is Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities, Emerita at Stanford University. Her books include The Poetics of Indeterminacy: Rimbaud to Cage (1981), The Futurist Moment:Avant-Garde, Avant-Guerre, and the Language of Rupture (1986) Wittgenstein's Ladder (1996), The Vienna Paradox (2004), Differentials: Poetry,Poetics, Pedagogy, which won the Robert Penn Warren Prize for literary criticism in 2005, and Edge of Irony: Modernism in the Shadow of the Habsburg Empire (University of Chicago Press, 2016). She is a former Vice President of the ALSCW.

Rosanna Warren is Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago. She is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Ghost in a Red Hat (2011) and So Forth (2020).She has published a book of literary criticism and edited a volume of essays about translation, and has received awards from the Academy of American Poets, The American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Lila Wallace Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New England Poetry Club, among others. She is a former President of the ALSCW. Her biography of Max Jacob will be published in October 2020.

Information on how to join this Zoom session will be posted under ALSCW News on our website (ALSCW.org).

Former ALSCW Administrative Director Ben Mazer has published a new collection of poems."American poetry used to bow befo...
09/26/2020
The Hierarchy of the Pavilions by Ben Mazer | MadHat Press

Former ALSCW Administrative Director Ben Mazer has published a new collection of poems.

"American poetry used to bow before its roots in England, then pretty much scorned them utterly. Ben Mazer is a bright exception in a slowly dimming landscape, one who brings poetry’s formal pasts – both ancient and Modern – to bear on the dark troubles of the moment, while his spectrum extends from high lyric to caustic colloquial. His work is both distinct and distinguished, and his fine new book a cause for celebration."
--Glyn Maxwell

"Ben Mazer could be seen as the Baudelaire of Boston since his poetry corresponds with that great poet in its romantic shadows, burning melancholy, cooperative relationship to the great fully dead American poets who rhymed their way out of Victorian verse remaining noble and lonely and headed for free verse. Ben shares the good manners of John Wieners, and this way welcomes his reader into the pavilions along the river with tragic logic."
--F***y Howe

"Ben Mazer’s poems, 'sweatered in the wind,' are marvels of anachronistic refraction, as if the new could be old again. 'The essence of the conflict is the fight,' he writes, coming close to, but averting, verse light. Mad poetry hurled him into ironic, discursive flight, awash in warping wit with social bight. Here, then, is where this poet chose to alight. 'Nor kin to claim.'"
--Charles Bernstein

"Ben Mazer’s 'capturements of sound' are sometimes deployed in surreal Dylanesque frenzy, sometimes with the sorrowful ennui of early Eliot: 'The birds keep bankers' hours on the fence;/life is co-opted without recompense.' Prickly with allusion, rhyme-rich, alert to history’s stamp on language and imagination, The Hierarchy of the Pavilions surprises as it confounds, teases, and delights."
--Joyce Peseroff

https://madhat-press.com/products/the-hierarchy-of-the-pavilions-by-ben-mazer

PRE-ORDER This new volume by Ben Mazer contains only work not included in his Selected Poems of 2017, which, apart from several previously uncollected ...

The Library of America, in partnership with the ALSCW, presentsReading James Baldwin Now: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. on “The W...
09/18/2020
Reading James Baldwin Now: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. on "The White Man's Guilt"

The Library of America, in partnership with the ALSCW, presents
Reading James Baldwin Now: Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. on “The White Man’s Guilt”

Wednesday, September 23rd, 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm EDT.

Eddie S. Claude, Jr. is the author of the New York Times bestseller Begin Again: James Baldwin's America and Its Urgent Lessons for Our Own. He is Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University

The program is free, but registration is required.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/reading-james-baldwin-now-eddie-s-glaude-jr-on-the-white-mans-guilt-registration-117709086045?aff=alscw

Join Eddie S. Glaude, Jr. as he explores the contemporary resonances of Baldwin's powerful and prophetic piece.

09/08/2020

September 9th, 6 pm to 7:15 pm EST: “American Classics, American Crisis”

We are delighted to invite you to the first installment of the ALSCW's fall Zoom series. We are deeply grateful to our participants and to all of you for your support of the ALSCW (information on memberships and renewals can be found at ALSCW.org). The panelists will take questions from the audience during the last twenty minutes of our session. For information on how to join our Zoom seminar (ALSCW.org), please visit our website and go to ALSCW News at the bottom of our homepage.

Michael Gorra, Myra Jehlen and Mark Edmundson will talk about how several classic American authors (Faulkner, Twain, Whitman...) address democracy, race, the trauma and promise of history, and the worth of literature in a time of crisis. Questions from the audience will be welcome.

Panelists:

Mark Edmundson is University Professor at the University of Virginia and the author of a dozen books, including Self and Soul: A Defense of Ideals and The Heart of the Humanities: Reading, Writing Teaching. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, Literary Imagination, Raritan, The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The American Scholar, Yale Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, and many other venues. The National Endowment of the Humanities has honored him as a Distinguished Teaching Professor.

Michael Gorra is the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English at Smith College and the author of The Saddest Words: William Faulkner's Civil War. Earlier books include The Bells in Their Silence: Travels through Germany and Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. A regular contributor to the New York Review of Books and other journals, he has received both a Guggenheim and Public Scholar Award from the NEH, along with the Balakian Citation from the National Book Critics Circle for his work as a reviewer.
Myra Jehlen was Board of Governors Professor of English and American Literature at Rutgers, where she also taught Comparative Literature. A member of the editorial board of Raritan, she is the author of Five Fictions in Search of Truth, Readings at the Edge of Literature, American Incarnation, and Class and Character in Faulkner's South. She has recently completed a long essay on Huckleberry Finn and the controversy surrounding it.

Moderator: David Mikics is the author most recently of Stanley Kubrick (Yale Jewish Lives), Bellow's People (Norton) and Slow Reading in a Hurried Age (Harvard). John and Rebecca Moores Professor of English and Honors at the University of Houston, he is also a columnist for Salmagundi and for Tablet magazine, and has received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Brooklyn and Houston. He will become Vice President of the ALSCW in 2021.

Sponsored by the ALSCW and the Department of English at the Catholic University of America

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(202) 319-5650

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“Schulman’s work has a dignified, sculptural grace that counterpoints the inner noise and agitation many of us bear. To read her is to come off a busy city street into a cathedral nave, to be still, or to walk quietly along the edge of the evening sea.” —Kjerstin Kauffman, Literary Matters Thank you to Kjerstin Kauffman and Literary Matters for this lovely review: https://buff.ly/3gerfnB #graceschulman #literarymatters #indiebooks #poetsoffb #turtlepointpress Association of Literary Scholars, Critics, and Writers
The posted video contains vital information not contained in the Public Broadcasting documentary, "Flannery" to be aired nationwide on March 23, 2021. This supplemental detail is designed to enhance the knowledge of viewers and to provide additional information that shaped Flannery O'Connor's writing. Of particular interest is the crucial role of O'Connor's Jesuit friends, as well as the relatively unknown original curator of her letters, Thomas F. Gossett. More specific information is available in Good Things Out of Nazareth: Letters of Flannery O'Connor and Friends, edited by Benjamin B. Alexander.
MANIFESTO (written and revised (many times) beginning 2014) 4/2019 from david eberhardt, activist poet Wm Logan acolyte [email protected] current state of american poetry? no music, no magic, no mystery, etc AMMONITE IN A RIVER, THE FOSSIL BELL (After Bach, Partitia for Keyboard, # 6, Fantasie) Storm King Art Center Kempt it beds Into rosette tact, Shale holds the Blue welts up Towards particularity Near fact; the Sutures close For order Turning under water As law mulls into emblem. Leaves teem over, Dishevel down Like noise...they stir Up water Possibility And guess in green Until the current Joins their spiel, Divvying without a seam To ruckus that will numb And move to heal. de photo at Frost path- a path near Frost cabin with poems at appropriate points- is this the West Running Brook? - leaves over a stream- just what i'm talking abt in the poem- In these soft cauterants The rock wheel turns; Tulle foam shuts dent Upon its rings- A mold That spreads and spins By froth And pain To keep the spell- A fossil bell. Written circa mid 60’s The sound of words meant a lot to me as I started out in the 1970’with more finished work; witness the above- almost a sculpted work. I liked juicy words- and I got that from Hart Crane and Dylan Thomas. I started writing poetry seriously at Oberlin College in 1960 where I was co- editor of the literary magazine, The Yeoman- later to be named “Field”. A reponse to a submitted poem came from editor David Young, just because you are an alumnus don’t expect any favors. Nice. I realize that what follows is assertions in search of explanations- am working to fill out! One problem is that I have to avoid choosing living poets that I would offend- and there are so many! I believe every poet is inviolably perfect and wonderful in his/her unique way. I need to start with this statement because I am going to offend many in this essay! I like poets as persons- just have a lot of criticism of current poetry. I could say, just open a New Yorker magazine and read the selections- but even they have an occasional gem. Better to be positive. Besides, it is quite possible that much of the following criticism applies to MY OWN poetry!! OVERALL “less art and more truth”- Robert Frank In most current American poetry: no mystery, no magic- no music! Often not much meaning (5 Ms?) I find very little surprise in today’s poetry. Basically it is pedestrian dull, unexciting and BORING! Settle for little- nothing of grandeur. Poetry should be rare and beautiful- like snow monkeys, like snow leopards! It should be startling- like the last line in Rilke’s “Archaic torso of Apollo.” “You must change your life.” Emily Dickinson; her hummingbird is a startling “route of evanescense”; she wants poetry that will make your hair stand on end! And I do too! A character in McMurtry’s “Lonesome Dove” would say our poetry’s got no “sand”, no “grit.” Do we want “normal” poetry? Poetry “as usual”? I say no. Read Rimbaud’s “Bateau Ivre” you’ll find poetry that’s electric…charged. An excerpt: “And from then on I bathed in the Poem Of the Sea, infused with stars and lactescent, Devouring the azure verses; where, like a pale elated Piece of flotsam, a pensive drowned figure sometimes sinks; Where, suddenly dyeing the blueness, delirium And slow rhythms under the streaking of daylight, Stronger than alcohol, vaster than our lyres, The bitter redness of love ferments!” I note an edginess, a uniqueness in great poetry- even in Robert Frost- an attempt to say something in a new way. Although when Frost got to the two roads diverging- a deeper thought would have been to take both. Besides his right wing politics in “the land was ours”. (The land was NOT ours!!!) Woodie Guthrie makes the same mistake (“This land is our land”- NO). Also- great poetry has something to say. In that regard. Though I like the more musical with heavy diction, as in Thomas and Crane (Hart not Steven) - I admire T.S. Eliot as well because he is so profound. Rossetti says a lot in his poem “Sudden Light” and yet it is plain in diction. I forgive him. Our poetry? I won’t say “nothing” but “Little ventured, little gained.” EGO Everybody seems to be saying “Look at me, look at me,” taking literary “selfies”- writing a poem about him or herself as if taking his or her photo by holding up a camera at arms length on a stick. Few admit to self doubts- few will say I might be wrong. There iusbi sekf reflexion. No self criticism. It is good that poetry is accessible to so many. But that has led to everybody and his/her cousin claiming to be a poet. To find the good poem is like trying to eat one fish from a school. In the early 2000’s there arrived via internet web sites like “A Poem a Day” and the “Writers’ Almanac” or daily offerings from the Poetry Foundation (Poetry Magazine). It seems the American style is to make poetry a business, and some of these venues do this because they have a lot of money or are trying to raise it. Having to find a new poet every day- offers up loads of less good stuff -from collegians, persons that teach at Universities or are graduates of writing seminars, state poet laureates, editors of literary magazines and so forth. It’s a back scratching crowd- academic or, as I call it- acadeemic as in anemic.. IT’S PROSE So much poetry today is really prose- poets cut lines off a la William Carlos Williams or Ezra Pound- without their sense of rhythm.Just try running lines of much modern poetry together and see if it makes any difference. There’s too little music; by music I mean a propulsive beat as in a musical piece, or natural pauses marked in prose by commas. Wm Carlos Williams started a movement in American poetry when he wrote his poem: “So much depends/ upon the red wheelbarrow/glazed with rainwater/beside the white chickens” I think William Logan,-our greatest poetry critic, has researched the back story re the Williams wheelbarrow and found that it did indeed have greater meaning than immediately meets the eye. Williams, following Ezra Pound, did not use the traditional measured music of iambic pentameter but he did end lines using the rhythm of natural speech- where we pause, usually at the commas or drawing of a breath as we recite. Many persons have tried to copy him without ending the lines as effectively- and many now, seem to have no sense of where a line should end. If you are going to chop lines off w***y nilly, trying to follow the pauses of natural speech- I hope you have something to say! Williams made a point out of describing a wheelbarrow or a plum-to say that an object of little consequence and just sitting there in the rain is still important.Since he was the first- this was refreshing- THEN! The living (as of this writing) poets Gary Snyder, Robert Creeley and Ron Padgett do it well. And here is another example of cut off lines that succeed: Poem of the Day: The Rain BY ROBERT CREELEY All night the sound had come back again, and again falls this quiet, persistent rain. What am I to myself that must be remembered, insisted upon so often? Is it that never the ease, even the hardness, of rain falling will hav e for me. For me to give examples of the wrong use of line lengths that I see every day? Well- that would get me into trouble with fellow poets. Just give it my test- transfer it into prose and does that work just as well? Allen Itz Sentinel rocking my baby… his small head resting on my chest as he sleeps so small and breakable joy love and hope protective, as if he were a treasure requiring a constant sentinel * * I never imagined such a wash of emotion was likely or even possible — or such terror I know Allen and love his photography- he would not like to see the following, my view of his poetry in general and a poem like this: e g try it as prose and what’s the diff? what is the point of minisculing line lengths as above? What? Rocking my baby, his small head resting on my chest as he sleeps. So small and breakable. Joy love and hope protective, as if he were a treasure requiring a constant sentinel. ? never imagined such a wash of emotion was likely or even possible, Or such terror. In other words- end the damn lines naturally- where they end? Sent to Linda Pastan, fellow Maryland poet, now 87- will she respond? Rereading Frost by Linda Pastan “Sometimes I think all the best poems have been written already, and no one has time to read them, so why try to write more?” why not as prose- sic- the best poems have been written already and no one has time, etc this style irks- when did it crreep into our poetry- and now it's everywhere- like a virus. The Hedgehog- Lola Haskins Yesterday, along a walled track I came across a dark brown brush Just the size of my hand. From Under it poked a narrow snout Which, when it sensed my bood….etc My letter: Re the poem for 9/13 in the New York Sunday Times magazine by Linda Haskins and selected by Naomi Nye- , "The Hedgehog" ? It's prose- try it ? "Yesterday, along a walled track" (there the poet starts a new line) " I came across a dark brown brush". Why not just make a whole sentence? I see this everywhere and it's a tragedy of line lengths in American poetry these days. There's no music and it might as well be prose,! When American poet Wm Carlos Williams started all this with his famous poem "So much depends upon" (line stops) the red chickens" (new line"? Then it was fresh. I think the poet should have a lot to say, using this higgledy piggledy stop anywhere practice. As did Williams. Many years ago I was able to ask our great poet, Marianne Moore about this practice- deemed the "variable foot" at a reading at the 92nd St Y in NYC., i e not just endless iambic pentameter. She responded that she knew it well (and she had used it well). At the same gathering legendary poet W. H Auden remarked that he did not know it. Our greatest critic, William Logan, responded to this saying: “There are lots of poems that if arranged that way would become prose- but poems still have line breaks which do isolate and to some extent lend rhythm to the lines. Of course, some poets can’t get even that far but I would not in advance say that a poem wasn’t a poem because it doesn’t have strict meter” I replied that I did not want strict meter, just some sense of music at line breaks. Snyder and Creeley have it. Lack of passion.Much current poetry lacks passion- is effete, demure and wan- everybody seems to be channeling Elizabeth Bishop without her wit. Poems like Mary Oliver’s “The sweetness of dogs” are sappy and saccharine, not witty (have tried to appreciate her elsewhere). How about the sweetness of hyenas? It’s as if folks decided they did not want to be heroic or Miltonic or Shakespearean or Keatsian any more and will only use normal speech. It is not politically correct to be a white male? Passion seems to have flown the coop. Look at poems in the New Yorker magazine, Poetry Magazine or the American Poetry Review?- no passion. Most seem slicked over with a veneer of superficiality. To me the word that describes it is “smug”. How about this description: “Ashberyan”? much lauded surrealist poet John Ashbery has, like Carlos Williams – too many followers. Poets don’t generally write honestly, about money, s*x, politics, death, ego.Many are trying to keep themselves out of the work. And too many put nothing but themselves into their work! Poem of the Day: As Good as Anything ALICE NOTLEY “I don’t see the point of remembering you; you’re too boring, Iowa City, Iowa,”, etc DICTION PREFERENCE Besides the elegiac, I prefer poems with juicy words, like, kempt or incarnadine or,or to quote Hart Crane- “spindrift”. Wallace Stevens uses fancy and even made up words.. But I also find the plain spoken William Stafford to be wonderful. He has so much to say (“Every war has two losers”). He is electric in that sense, although he has little juicy word diction or music. Political poetry.Few write political poems. Diane di Prima, Marge Piercy, Ntozake Shange and Alice Walker do, slam poets do.. Shelly was a wonderfully political poet. Most writers have not been part of a movement- they are not activists- and their writing shows that. Langston Hughes’ poetry speaks so cogently of our present situation. You would think U S Poet Laureates would be political but they generally are not…Robert Frost read a poem about imperialism and taking Indian land at Kennedy’s inaugural. A poet laureate as of this writing should be excoriating or at least undermining trump. I wrote to Joy Harjo (poet laureate in 2019) - a good poet of Indian ethnicity about this A poet who is not a revolutionary? I find most poetry I see atrophied, no publisher wants to rock the boat. But there have been great apolitical poets- Rimbaud, Stevens- who are revolutionary in non political ways- both introduce a different way of seeing. In the annals of human progress- poets will merit only footnotes or a listing in the index. This has changed over time- one must say a poet like Vergil or Dante has more influence. HOW ABOUT MYSTICISM/RELIGION?? It would be nice to have some, other than Coleman Barks’ masterful channeling of Rumi. The great poem The great poem- say, Wallace Stevens' “Sunday Morning”, or those in Hart Crane’s and Dylan Thomas’ work, has music and meaning. Who tries to grab that ring now? Who tries for “grandeur”? The confessional poets, Berryman, Sexton, Lowell, Plath- they went deep. OBSCURITY I applaud John Ashbery (sp) for trying to make something new.His thoughts are often gibberish and still I have warmed to Ashbery- his use of the throwaway, casual phrase- his desire to epater le bourgeoisie, his humor. The way he plays with meaning is impressive- his awards cast doubt on all prizes. He is like Warhol, creation of the N Y critics, Here’s an obscure poem that intrigues because of the diction and almost meaning. Poem of the Day: Twilight By Rae Armantrout Where there’s smoke there are mirrors and a dry ice machine, industrial quality fans. If I’ve learned anything about the present moment But who doesn’t love a flame, the way one leaps into being full-fledged, then leans over to chat Already the light is retrospective, sourceless, is losing itself though the trees are clearly limned. READINGS Something about poetry readings also is to me, a poet, annoying- I know it's ego affirming, but poetry is the shyest and most reclusive of the arts- best discovered on a page- like finding an orchid or Indian Pipe in the woods. To have some one, like myself, bleating/ blatting it into your face? Poetry readings, and I’ve organized at least 6 and read in at least 20, are pretty boring. Unless it’s an interesting poet. At many readings I’ve been to, the audience sits in rapt, stuporous silence (what was that poem about?) an audience consisting of other poets who are thinking how much better they could do and waiting for the open mike.Would hhelp to see the poem read on its page (one problem w readings unless printed poems are p;assed out to every one)- suggest cue cards or subtitles? Awards I love the great outlaws- who did not give a s**t about publication- Dickinson (see her poem “Publication”) , Rimbaud. Misunderstood or unrecognized poets- as in “he died a pauper” or like Holderlin- insane. Awards are almost universally suspect. Was it the French composer Satie? Who said “It was good that he refused the award- but that he received the award in the first place? That is what was disgraceful!! Touche. The association of poetry with money is particularly odious. O yeh- I’d have to refuse the money.(???) (dave fantasizes winning a money prize. Leave it to amurika to turn poetry into a business- a “Poem a Day” Writers’ Almanac or Poetry Foundation and Magazine production line. Poetry is NOT an industry. Poetry is too special for that. I think you can teach about poetry- but you cannot teach poetry. I will not be giving poetry workshops or lecturing about the poetic experience. What it is, it is. THE GREAT POEM To me, the greatest English lyric is George Chapman’s “Shine out faire sunne” from “The Masque of the 12 Months”. Shakespeare, move over (and Chapman may be the competitor poet in the sonnets). attributed to George Chapman (1559? - 1634) , a song from "The Masque of the Twelve Months". “Shine out, fair Sunn, with all your heate, Show all your thousand-coloured lighte! Black Winter freezes to his seate; The graie wulff howls, he does so bite; Crookt Age on three knees creeps the streete; The boneless fish close quaking lies And eats for cold his aking feet; The stars in isickles arise: Shine out, and make this winter night Our bewtie's Spring, our Prince of Light!” This song sticks out like a sore thumb in the Masque; the rest of it is rather plain but this bit seems surreal, as if written by Rimbaud or Dylan Thomas. One has to wonder……..does one have the time to go through all of Chapman for similar gems? His plays? His translation of Homer? I wish he had written more like the above! Has anything better been done since?!?!?!? Less I seem hopelessly negative- of poets writing today (2019) I like: Robert Bly, Gary Snyder, Paul Muldoon, Sharon Olds, Carolyn Forche, Coleman Barks, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Jack Gilbert was a favorite. CRITICS: Few write about poetry with a critical eye- it seems forbidden- but wouldn’t it be fun to have a dialogue about what we like or dislike? The critics: I enjoy William Logan and Clive James and James Wilson. In the horrible criticism department, in the Oct. 19 issue of the New Yorker- a review of poet, Robin Lewis by Dan Chiasson, Chiasson writes: “ Poems can provide the effaced interiority of these caricatures, but also the backlog of silenced persons is daunting and and the history is by no means safely concluded” The French master Mallarme is quoted in Yvor Winters, “On Modern Poetry”: “The pure work implies the elocutory disappearance of the poet, who cedes the initiative to the words, mobilized through the shock of their inequality; they light each other with reciprocal reflections like a virtual train of fires upon jewels, replacing the respiration perceptible in the lyric inspiration of former times or the enthusiastic personal direction of the phrase”. And do we see any of this in current poetry? Verrrry little!!!!!!!!!! (Of course the Mallarme is over the top rhetoric- just fairly incomprehensible!(only the French) As with Chiasson: “And the farmer took another load away”) General question of honesty to myself and other poets, How much ego is involved in your poetry (sometimes I fantazise about how great I am and wonder why I receive little esteem). How many persons have approached you and asked a question about one of your p;oems that strikes a chord? That show real understanding? Have you really communicated? Or do you get clichés? How many good analyses of yr work have you gotten? And so on. One of my favorite undles called my poems “odes to obscurity”- a poet friend mentions me as “bells and whistles” (of course his work, as is so much we see, is prose w crazy line lengths). Blurb 1 David Eberhardt was born March 26, 1941. As a peace protester, he was incarcerated at Lewisburg Federal Prison in 1970 for 21 months for pouring blood on draft files with Father Philip Berrigan and two others to protest the Vietnam War. He is retired after 33 years of work in the criminal injustice system as a Director of Offender Aid and Restoration at the Baltimore City Jail. He has published three books of poetry: The Tree Calendar, Blue Running Lights, and Poems from the Website, Poetry in Baltimore. He has completed a peace movement memoir: For All the Saints , a Protest Primer influenced by Dillard, Thoreau, Nabokov, Mailer, Agee, Thomas, Lecky, Capote and Cousteau- available from amazon. [email protected] and on face book