Archive for January, 2014|Monthly archive page

Amy King’s Third Way

Amy King’s Third Way

Stein may not be your tray of brownies like she is for Amy King, but in the course of her guest post over at the Poetry Foundation King makes a sweet observation, not without pertinence to the Canadian situation:  

Most of us, I think, are exposed to smalls swaths cut from the vastness of poetry, focused on our own shores, but that is a betrayal created by a myopic education system and the mentality of “best of” lists and ranking systems we’re expected to fight through for recognition. When I see “Best of” in a title, I ask, “Best for what?” On the surface, ours is a misguided view of what poetry can be, what it can do. There is an American poetry spectrum that seems to be pinned on either end by notions of “accessibility” and “obscurity” or “mainstream” and “avant-garde.” Even our two major critics, Helen Vendler and Marjorie Perloff, are considered coach-advocates for those camps. Such western concepts mislead with their dichotomous proclivities and really only serve the business end of poetry relegated to the creation of anthologies, book promotion and sales, distribution of reading funds and platforms, academic job descriptions and canon-making syllabi. They obscure what poetry does in the world, to and for people, and how poetry broadens and deepens perspectives as lenses we are born to, craft from, and process through.

Publisher of the Month: BookThug : Small Press Distribution

March End Prill

March End Prill

If you didn’t get your copy of March End Prill when it came out, here’s your chance to get it at nearly half price, as BookThug is Publisher of the Month at Small Press Distribution. BookThug is one eclectic publisher, so a quick browse of its list is likely to turn up other valuable discoveries, never mind the mindboggling offerings at SPD.

A source study of Charles Reznikoff’s “Amelia”

A source study of Charles Reznikoff’s “Amelia”

The late, great Objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff has long been a favorite and model of mine. Jacket 2 does us all the favor of publishing a study of Reznikoff’s poem “Amelia” from his multi-volume work Testimony, criminally out of print. Charles Bernstein summarizes the virtues and import of this excellent piece of literary scholarship:  

Richard Hyland, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School, Camden, New Jersey, has compiled the fullest account of the sources of a Reznikoff poem, together with a detailed commentary on theAmelia Kirwan case and the poem Reznikoff wrote based on this case. Many of Reznikoff’s poems, especially those in Testimony, are based on legal records. But there has been little research on the exact relationship between the legal record and the poem, with the general assumption that Reznikoff used only language from the legal records, cutting away but not adding any of his own words. The key to Reznikoff’s aesthetic is his selection and condensation of the source materials.

Surely Reznikoff is a paradigmatic poet for all documentary and source-based poetry of the 20th century and exemplary for many of us who use appropriated or found material in our work. By looking at the 1910 court records, we can now see the source of the language that Reznikoff incorporated into his poem, at least in this one instance. Hyland goes much further. By contrasting the aesthetic pitch of Reznikoff’s slim poem with the social efficacy of Judge Edward Bartlett’s magisterial decision, Hyland gets to the core issue of the office of poetry. Reznikoff’s poem, he notes, perhaps wryly, is “weak.”

New for the new year, the New Gnosticism in poetry!


New for the new year, the New Gnosticism in poetry!

Why not start this new year off with something new, a primer on the New Gnosticism in poetry at the journal Talisman? The New Gnosticism got up Barrett Watten’s nose, so there must be something to it!

(And not to chew on any sour grapes, here (more like raisins, at this point), but apparently Grand Gnostic Central was or is just too Canadian for inclusion…)

Grand Gnostic Central

Grand Gnostic Central