Wallace Stevens

Live webcast discussion of two late poems of Wallace Stevens

April 18, 2013

On April 18, 2013, at 12 noon (eastern time), I hosted a live webcast — an open discussion of two poems by Wallace Stevens: “The Plain Sense of Things” & “The Poem That Took the Place of a Mountain.” I was joined by the ModPo TAs.  Participants in this session joined a collaborative close reading of the two poems, and had a chance to email questions and/or phone us to ask questions or make comments.  Here is a link to the video recor

Whalen on Stevens

A passage from 'Scenes of Life at the Capital'

In August 1971, Philip Whalen performed “Scenes of Life at the Capital,” a 45-minute reading recorded by Robert Creeley who’d brought his tape recorder to the event. In a passage of “Scenes” — it comes to around two minutes of the reading — Whalen responds to Wallace Stevens. Here is that 2-minute passage: MP3.

Collaborative close reading of Stevens's 'The Snow Man'

Each January the people of the Kelly Writers House gather for an event called “The Mind of Winter.” The event begins with a group close reading of “The Snow Man.” Here is a link to the audio recording of the entire program.

Crystal gazing

Clark Coolidge’s 'Crystal Text'

Clark Coolidge photo by Celia Coolidge.

“That mind artifact is mutable, thank the lord” — Clark Coolidge[1]

A few facts about crystals:

Once only mined (mind), most quartz crystal now is grown.

Quartz is the most common mineral on Earth.

Many crystals are piezoelectric: they emit a (thin) electric charge under pressure.

Crystals rotate the plane of polarized light.

Zukofsky performs Stevens

On April 29, 1971, Louis Zukofsky gave a lecture on Wallace Stevens, and a reading of Stevens’s and his own poems in honor of Stevens, at the University of Connecticut. This recording has long been available through the Zukofsky PennSound page, and we are, as ever, grateful to Paul Zukofsky for giving us permission to use them for non-commercial, educational purposes (and, as stipulated by Paul, they cannot be used for any other reason). Recently Anna Zalokostas went carefully through the one-and-a-half hour presentation, listening for which poems by Stevens Zukofsky read on that occasion. I was delighted to hear that among these is a beautiful reading of “The Planet on a Table,” a Stevens poem of meta-poetic retrospection. Here are the five poems performed:

  1. reads Wallace Stevens’s “From the Misery of Don Joost” (1:42): MP3
  2. reads Stevens’s “Extraordinary References” (1:22): MP3
  3. reads Stevens’s “The Planet on the Table” (1:11): MP3
  4. reads Stevens’s “Puella Parvula” (1:40): MP3
  5. reads Stevens’s “Song of Fixed Accord” (1:03): MP3

Wallace Stevens of the New York School

At a conference entitled "Wallace Stevens, New York, & Modernism," hosted by NYU, I gave a paper in which I somewhat puckishly imagined Stevens as a New York School poet.

As a business model fails, forever is pragmatic

In the postal business, there’s a term of art (as it were): the forever stamp. Forever stamps are always equal in equal value to the current U.S. first-class mail 1-ounce rate. The term has been in use for some years, but hasn’t really been relevant until fairly recently. In eras when rates were stable — we all remember the days when the announcement of a rate increase was an event, causing a slight shock and even protest, something for which we anyway had to plan — a “forever stamp” was essentially superfluous.

Money is a kind of poetry (or not), once again

Yet another attempt at the (non)intersection of poetry and finance — recruiting Wallace Stevens once again ("money is a kind of poetry") as gambit. This one appears in the March 2 Financial Times.

Gizelle Gajelonia, Timothy Yu, and Jonathan Stalling in conversation

Not intertexts, but inhabitations!

As editor of Tinfish Press, which publishes experimental poetry from the Pacific region, I try to put different Pacific poets and poetries in conversation with each other. After 15 years of editing, I no longer think of myself as someone who simply publishes books. Instead, I offer up fields of books, islands of them. The point is to move between these islands, not to stay fixed in one place. In The Radicant, Nicholas Bourriaud (on whom I’ve blogged elsewhere) describes such a poetics this way: “It is a matter of replacing the question of origin with that of destination.” He writes of the importance of the “itinerary, the path” (55), and of the need for movement. I would like to use this space on Jacket2 to get some of these conversations moving. Many, but not all, will involve Tinfish authors; webs of connection attract across time and space and small press offices.

When the school board was asked to read Wallace Stevens

'They shall know well the heavenly fellowship … '

Harold Levy (left) and Wallace Stevens

Harold Levy was an interim chancellor of New York City's public school system at the end of Giuliani and the beginning of Bloomberg. Levy got his BA from Cornell at a time when people like Allan Bloom (The Closing of the American Mind) and poet A. R. Ammons held forth — and Harold Bloom, too, for that matter (I think). Levy hung out in an intellectually vibrant circle that produced (not surprisingly, when you think of A. Bloom's potential influence) Paul Wolfowitz and other neo-conservatives. (Wolfowitz had grown up partly in Ithaca; his father was a professor of statistical theory at Cornell.) Somewhere along the line — from Ammons and maybe Harold Bloom — Harold Levy picked up an absolute love of Wallace Stevens. And, many years later, when he was appointed chancellor he told all the members of the New York City School Board that they would be convened to discuss three poems by Stevens (Levy now recalls that two of these were “The Emperor of Ice Cream” and “Sunday Morning”) and would be given a violin lesson by Isaac Stern. Levy's role (he was a businessperson) was to bring efficiency to the system, but he also brought what might be deemd the opposite — a conviction that Board members should be conversant in the philosophical questions of the sort that one would hope kids in the schools would face if and when presented with probing teaching.

Syndicate content