Commentaries

Tyrone Williams on Close Listening

photo by Al Filreis

Tyrone Williams talks to me about  growing up working class in Detroit; bookishness and the role of education and his early teachers; assimilation versus resistance and formal innovation in American poetry in relation to his dissertation on “Open and Closed Forms In 20th Century American Poetics”; his practice of “eshuneutics” (after Yoruba spirit Eshu); the use of appropriation in his poetry and the necessity of research and reading beyond one’s immediate knowledge context; and the politics and history of English for African-Americans.

Listen to full show here (44:38): MP3

Tyrone Williams talks to me about  growing up working class in Detroit; bookishness and the role of education and his early teachers; assimilation versus resistance and formal innovation in American poetry in relation to his dissertation on “Open and Closed Forms In 20th Century American Poetics”; his practice of “eshuneutics” (after Yoruba spirit Eshu); the use of appropriation in his poetry and the necessity of research and reading beyond one’s immediate knowledge context; and the politics and history of English for African-Americans.

John Bloomberg-Rissman: from “With the Noose Around My Neck,” a poem & multivocal collage in progress

The earth is currently operating in a no-analog state. In the center of the grid is a glass water pitcher. The pink lightning was branched — I think I mean forked. Instead of these, I was given an insect, a peculiar prehistoric creature, part lobster, part spider, part bell-ringer, part son of a fallen star, something like an armored dog. But of course a

 

name means nothing to a place

place-names are necessary relations

 a name recovered returns the claims of human affection for a place

 

the cuckoo is a pretty bird,
she warbles as she flies
The cuckoo is a
- BANG -

                                                --Sean Bonney, The Commons

ko ko thett on Close Listening at the Kelly Writers House

In this episode of  Clocktower Radio's Close Listening, ko ko thett talks to me about his decision to write in English; his 19 years in exile and the experience of returning home; the political situation in Burma at the time of his exile compared to the present; his sense of the futility of the student protests; and the international context of the poets he anthologized in Bones Will Crow. In the course of the show ko ko thett reads a recent poem in Burmese and offers a spontaneous translation. Recorded before a live audience at the Kelly Writers House on January 23, 2017. ko ko thett's reading immediately preceded the Close Listening show. 

ko ko thett's Kelly Writers House poetry reading (29:18): mp3
ko ko thett in conversation with Charles Bernsien on Close Listening  (38:36): mp3

Teaching imagist revision

Resources for Williams Carlos Williams's 'Young Woman at a Window' (two versions)

For three decades I have been presenting my students with two versions of William Carlos Williams’s “Young Woman at a Window.” How was the poem revised? Do the versions disclose the method of revision? Does one version better befit Williams’s apparent aims at condensation, action rather than explication? And what and where is the poem’s subject position? I sometimes have led a discussion by asking others to decide which of the two versions they prefer, assuming they prefer modern poems to do in themselves, as writing, what they say. There is of course no need to prefer one version of this or any poem to another, but the preferential exercise decenters the teacher-presenter in ways I have found very productive.

Jerome Rothenberg & David Antin: A first interview with Kenneth Rexroth (1958), redux

The memory of Kenneth Rexroth goes back into my distant past. I had been aware of him since the 1940s but with renewed interest during the 1950s and the emergence of the San Francisco Renaissance and that early Beat Generation for which he was an older spokesman. With David Antin and others, circa 1958, I was coming into contact with poets outside of our immediate neighborhood and, as with Kenneth, outside of our own generation.

I think our first meeting with him was under the pretext of doing an interview for Chelsea Review, during its early period, when Robert Kelly and George Economou were among the cofounders and editors.