Laynie Browne: Recently a show at the Morgan Library in New York City celebrated the 1913 publication of the first of the seven volumes of Swan’s Way. Here one could see some of Proust’s original handwritten manuscripts and notebooks, some of which have never left Paris. In one notebook, considering his book in progress he writes: “Should it be a novel, a philosophical essay, am I a novelist?”
In your novel The Mandarin, the question is potently raised in various ways, who is a novelist? What is a novel? I wonder if you could comment on this.
[»»]Matthew Cooperman: Envy and Architecture: On Barbara Guest’s Realisms [»»]Rachel Blau DuPlessis: ‘The other window is the lark’: on Barbara Guest [»»]Ken Edwards: Pageant of creativity [»»]Catherine Kasper: Barbara Guest’s Career: Defensive Rapture [»»]Erica Kaufman: On “The Location of Things”
In 1985, Eileen Myles was the new director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project in New York. She asked me to curate a lecture series, the first such program at the church. I modelled the series at the Poetry Project on my earlier series New York Talk, giving it the amusing title, given the sometimes seeming resistance to poetics at the St. Marks at the time, St. Marks Talks. And talk it did.
It’s good to see Jacket2 continuing to focus on the poetry of Barbara Guest, a forceful writer of uncompromisingly modern tastes. I am pleased to say that at a reading for Carl Rakosi in San Francisco some years ago (where Carl read his short poem “The Laboratory Rat”) I was able to meet Barbara Guest. I mentioned that Allen Ginsberg once lived on the same street as she did, in Berkeley, at the time he wrote “A Supermarket in California”. “Well, it’s a very long avenue,” she replied sweetly. “I think Allen lived somewhere on the downtown end.”
This playlist includes recordings of authors reading the entirety of a book or chapbook. I find that longer recordings allow me to become immersed in the textures of the work, to register the ambient sonic environment, and to perceive other small shifts and variations within and between pieces. I sometimes listen to one long recording that allows me to settle into a particular mode of listening and then follow it by listening to another recording that suggests another form of attention. I like the feeling of becoming engrossed and hypnotized by a recording and then using another recording to snap myself out of the experience so that I can see the initial recording with more critical distance.
This post explores the poem as index, bibliography, catalog, or otherwise arranged list. I want to consider the ways each piece overflows, suggesting threads that the listener might follow or complicating the idea of order under the guise of an ordering structure. I want to pay attention to the ways these recordings open up into the works of other writers and artists in addition to reflecting back upon the concerns of their respective authors.
The 1960s Symposium at the Kelly Writers House happened last December and featured a varied list of speakers. Each one addressed the 1960s moment in American literary history, which could best be summed up by the books published around that time. It seemed like a fabulous event and I could certainly comment on every last minute of it. Below are just some of my thoughts on two parts: Al Filreis’s introduction and Erica Kaufman’s discussion of Barbara Guest’s book, The Location of Things.
Barbara Guest’s remarkable first book, The Location of Things (Tibor de Nagy Gallery, 1960), establishes that it is possible to reclaim gendered space, and this possibility is manifest in language itself.