E-Poetry 2011: Ten-year anniversary festival

epoetry

E-Poetry [2011] International Emerging Literatures, Media | Arts & Digital Culture Festival
TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY FESTIVAL
May 18-21, 2011, State University of Buffalo, New York

Special decennial foci: innovative / multicultural poetries, emerging younger artists & artists from developing countries

Four days of festival performances, exhibitions, artistic presentations of poetics statements, scholarly papers, talks, and celebration of creative, visionary, and imaginative poeisis at the cutting edge of the triumphant spirit of the arts in the digital age. The festival presents premier world class e-poetry, digital and media arts, multilingual poetics, dance, music, and other forms of avant-garde artistic language, media and scholarly practice. Also included will be a number of special pre-conference events, to be announced.

Now entering its second decade, E-Poetry is a renowned biennial international artistic gathering founded on dialog over emerging issues in digital, visual, sound, and language-based artistic practice. Its emphasis is on literary practice in an encompassing sense, i.e., the practice of thinking through engagement with the material aspects of media forms, the building of community, and the exchange of ideas across languages, borders, and ideologies. Rather than fetishizing “new form” as apparatus agent per se, it seeks to locate innovative artistic practice in its cultural, conceptual, and media milieu. Hence, if “e-poetry” is going to mean something more than communality with every digital household appliance and point to emergent artistic processes in a New Media age – inasmuch as it informs the digital – e-poetry can exist in any number of formats, including programmable, performance, visual, sound-based, conceptual, and book art … i.e., even on paper.

Perspectives on American poetry post-1975

Journal review
Boundary 2, Fall 2009 (vol 36 No 3), 250 pp.
Online ISSN: 1527-2141 Print ISSN: 0190-3659.
Special issue: American Poetry after 1975.
Ed. Charles Bernstein

Bernstein gathers work from a set of literary scholars who are redefining the field, focusing mostly on those who have published their first book in the last decade. He has also included a few older hands along with a few poems. His focus here is on new directions. While many of the essays are traditional in form, Bernstein encouraged all the participants to move beyond the constraints of professional writing if necessary.

In this issue Jennifer Scappettone writes on ambience and “junk space” (“Versus Seamlessness: Architectonics of pseudocomplicity in Tan Lin’s ambient poetics”). Christian Bok provides a typology of intention (“Two dots over a vowel”); Lytle Shaw extends the poetics of place into “field” work and site specificity (“Docents of Discourse: The logic of dispersed sites”); and Craig Dworkin, curator of the online archive Eclipse, addresses radical poetry and the digital archive (“Hypermnesia”).

Marjorie Perloff illuminates Susan Howe’s The Midnight (“The Rattle of Statistical Traffic”); Jonathan Skinner writes on ecopoetics (“Poetry Animal”); and Joyelle McSweeney takes on the poetics of disability (“Disabled Texts and the Threat of Hannah Weiner”).

Al Filreis surveys Wallace Stevens’s post- ’75 shadows; (“The Stevens Wars”); Jim Rosenberg assesses digital spaces (“Bios/ the logosphere/ the finite-made evolver space”); and Elizabeth Willis addresses the sociality of the lyric as a means to encounter her own generation’s poetics practices (“Lyric Dissent”).

Brian Reed also takes on his generation’s poetics (“Grammar Trouble”), considering trends and resistance to innovative poetry practice, with special reference to Craig Dworkin; Herman Rapaport takes on the aesthetics of sentimental poetry and sweet nothings (“A liquid hand blossoms”); and Tracie Morris writes on hip-hop and J.L. Austin, with special reference to Rakim’s performativity.

Juliana Spahr offer an essay on multilingual poetry (“The ‘90s”); and Tan Lin provides a “Soft Index (of repeating places, people, and works”).

The issue includes short poems by Peter Gizzi, Kenneth Goldsmith, Nada Gordon, and Benjamin Friedlander.

Take advantage of this teacher

I have not attended the u. of pennsylvania and have not enjoyed the privilege of attending classes with charles bernstein. but you know what? Bernstein has been one of my most valuable and appreciated teachers over the past 5 years or so. How? because of his poetry, his radio programs, his books of essays and criticism, his conference appearances, his blog (which, yes, promotes his own work, but to a much larger degree promotes the work of others), and because of his work with Al Filreis, producing the audio content on Pennsound. I met Charles at a conference last year sponsored by the Academy of American Poets and the guy’s passion and counter-establishment perspective will always be attractive to me.

Make it NEW vs. make IT new

lauterbach pound

Ann Lauterbach:  “Poets and other artists have been concentrating on, drawing attention to, the relation between the HOW and the WHAT of artmaking throughout the 20th century.
“It is what we do.
“In re/citations of Ezra Pound’s injunction to “make it new” emphasis has invariably fallen on the word “new,” the word that most conjures the operations of commerce and capitalism in this that was “the American century”.
“… We have ignored the other two words, MAKE, and IT, as if they were of no significance.
“… For me, the “it” is the fragment of reality out of which we each make our poems.
[It] is not an entity, not a thing, but a force around which everything else swirls.”

–From “Poetic Statement: As (It) Is: Toward a Poetics of the Whole Fragment,”
in “American women poets in the 21st century: Where lyric meets Language,”
Claudia Rankine & Juliana Spahr, Eds.,
Wesleyan U Press, 2002

Ann Lauterbach EPC page

Poets.org page

PennSound page

57 Productions offers wealth of poetry resources

57 Productions

You can explore audio and video of contemporary poets reading their work, read their biographies, and consider thoughtful essays, thanks to the work of  London’s 57 Productions.

For examples of the latter, check out  Nigel McLoughlin’s  New Media and the Teaching of Poetry in Higher Education, Paul Beasley’s Digital Poetry Goes Live,  and Cornelia Gräbner’s Performance Poetry and Theory.

Traversing landscapes of theory

feminist measures

Book Review
Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Theory
Edited by Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller
U of Michigan Press, Women and Culture Series.
410 pages. 1994.

Many literary critics interested in theoretical problems have limited themselves to narrative fiction. With “Feminist Measures,” Keller and Miller address that shortcoming by bringing together scholars and poets working in theoretical approaches to poetry. The book aims to spur recognition of current and previous criticism.

Each of the 15 previously unpublished essays in this volume speaks with its own rhythms and contributes to the movement of the collection. These essays represent a spectrum of approaches by feminist writers “who approach poetry as a gendered practice and who consider poetic works in terms of a number of contemporary literary theories.”

In other words, these essays supplement traditionally analytic forms of criticism with colloquial and experimental forms. They challenge generic boundaries between poetry and theory.

In her essay, “Dis Place The Space Between,” M. NourbeSe Philip explores how women have left their mark “on the many silences that surround language” and that readers must learn to read those silences. “If we talk of silence and assign to it a validity equal to the word,” she asks, “is it then right to talk of a ‘missing text,’ since the text is already embedded in the word?”

In the essay “Rethinking Literary Feminism: Three Essays onto Shaky Grounds,” Joan Retallack observes that Western culture has tended to label feminine those “forms characterized by silence, empty and full; multiple, associative nonhierarchical logics; open and materially contingent processes, etc.” Yet these forms, she says, “may well be more relevant to the complex reality we are coming to see as our world than the narrowly hierarchical logics that produced the rationalist dreamwork of civilization and its misogynist discontents.”

Shelley Sunn Wong’s essay examines Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s poem DICTEE in terms of the nature of ideological discourses that shape the production and the reception of Asian American writing.

Suzanne Juhasz writes about Emily Dickinson’s use of metaphor as a powerful device for establishing relationship and for creating new contexts and new meanings.

Cristanne Miller probes poet Alice Fulton’s use of the discourse of quantum physics to break out of the constraints of various systems of binary thinking. Miller writes:

“… the quantum perspective suggests a way to interrogate not just the classical notions of realism in science, but similarly dualistic and fixed notions of race, class, and gender in the realm of social dynamics…”

Lynn Keller considers poet Marilyn Hacker’s sonnet sequence, “Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons” and how it challenges “the heterosexual and hierarchical assumptions of the sonnet tradition.” Hacker’s sequence “enables a performative approach to sexuality and gender that calls into question conventional notions of gender and opens up a range of possibilities for the female subject.”

In their introduction to Joan Kelly’s 1984 collection, “Women, History, and Theory,” Blanche W. Cook et al. write that those who stand on the boundary of the dominant culture develop an oppositional consciousness. A woman, in particular, often experiences “a form of alienation that makes her at once a participant in the culture that oppresses her and a stranger to it. She is marginal. Out of this marginality arises the possibility of an existential awareness of her situation, and of naming it and opposing it.”

At the same time, Cook says, feminist theory represents a transcendence, a turning of alienation into a positive position. “Woman’s social experience as outsider,” she says, “provides a different reality that can illuminate the social nature of her existence.”

Published in 1994, Feminist Measures shows how engaging and how resonant that alternate reality can be. Its essays enactment the development of theory, yet this volume does not claim to encircle all aspects of theory. It does lay the groundwork for much interesting work since. Interested readers may want to see Linda A. Kinnahan’s “Lyric Interventions: Feminism, Experimental Poetry, and Contemporary Discourse” (2004).

Have some fun with it

whatis

Book review
What is Poetry: Conversations with the American Avant-Garde

Daniel Kane.    Teachers & Writers Collaborative, 2003. 185 pp.

I find this book valuable for a number of reasons.

It’s written in a conversational style, reflecting the relaxed tone of Kane’s interviews with 12 writers including (as example) Ann Lauterbach, Bernadette Mayer, Harryette Mullen, John Ashbery, Lisa Jarnot, and Robert Creeley.
Kane recommends one or two books as good starting places for readers not familiar with each author profiled.
He then presents a poem and asks its author to discuss it. That discussion evolves into a longer conversation, prompted by a series of insightful questions. 

A few excerpts:
Daniel Kane on coming to terms with avant-garde writing: “… a worthwhile and intellectually challenging agenda should not preclude the new reader from having fun. My emphasis on enjoyment is not intended to deny the difficulty inherent in these poems; in fact, the complexity is often part of the fun. Read the work of the avant-garde writers featured here (and others) and enjoy the surface surprise and music of their language. Once you’ve done that, you can move on to consider the vast, complex, and wonderful implications of their thinking on what it means to be you, here, thinking, feeling, and laughing” (p. 21)

Rae Armantrout: “If we are going to encourage more people to read avant-garde poetry, I think we have to promote the spirit of play in it. People think that the avant-garde is just all serious, grim guys marching behind Ezra Pound. But I think that if you look at some of the work of the people we’ve mentioned … you’ll see that it’s very playful. There’s a sense that poetry can be fun, and that it should be heard, be read aloud” (p. 47)

Fanny Howe: “I think for me poems are sentences, which may be why they are getting shorter. I love a complete sentence, and all that it contains in the way of balance and aspiration. I love prose sentences. But a whole poem of mine is a sentence composed of sound-lines (bars), each line being the equivalent of a complex word. Each sound-line floats in tandem with the next one. Each one is a word. The group of sound-lines or words forms a sort of sentence which is a poem” (p. 71)

Kenneth Koch: “Schools of poetry hardly matter—it’s friendship and individual talent” (p. 97)

Michael Palmer: “Poetry itself, when it is more than verse and more than a display of creative cleverness, is also a dangerous place, a site of slippages and folds, of irrational commands from the melos, where a multiplicity of meanings may be joined in a word, and where the nothing beneath is never far from the surface—a place, in other words, where the arbitrary and the necessary play out an intense negotiation concerning the possible” (p. 144)

Conversations with the american avant-garde

I’m reading a fascinating book that offers interviews with John Ashbery, Rae Armantrout, Robert Creeley, Fanny Howe, Lisa Jarnot, Kenneth Koch, Ann Lauterbach, Bernadette Mayer, Harryette Mullen, Michael Palmer, Lewis Warsh, and Marjorie Welish.  Daniel Kane conducted these interviews over 1998-2002. Each entry includes a bio sketch of the poet, one or two representative poems, and an interview. The 185-page book What Is Poetry is published by the Teachers & Writers Collaborative, which promotes literary arts education by supporting writers and teachers in developing and implementing strategies to enhance students’ interest in and love of literature and writing. Kane’s poetry is published in TriQuarterly, Exquisite Corpse, The Hat, Fence, and other journals.