Commentaries - February 2008

Brice Brown and Trevor Winkfield edit The Sienese Shredder, an irregular series/journal printed on medium-gloss thick-stock paper in Verona Italy for Sienese Shredder Editions on West 23rd Street in NYC. I am holding #2 in my hands. Absolutely gorgeous. "Submissions by invitation only." Short essays, poems, a few pieces of art history with fabulous reproductions, photographs, a CD of Charles North's poems in a sleeve, and — a real treat — Brice Brown's own short piece on John Ashbery's upstate home. Among the contributors: Francis Naumann (on Florine Stettheimer), Raphael Rubinstein, Simon Cutts, Ron Padgett, William Corbett (who should be the poet laureate of Boston), Jasper Johns, James Schuyler, Tom Devaney ("The Empty House"), and Naomi Savage (her photographs called "Toilet Rolls").

Simon Cutts: his work here is collected under the title "Household Poems — installed in Tipperary." And there's Cutts, in cap and sunglasses, painting words on the side of a house. A photo shows another cream-colored stucco wall of this country house, ivy growing up over words painted which read (but you can barely see this) "the ivory veins of ivy." And a photo of the garden and big wooden garden table in the sun seen through an open window from inside the house, and just below the sill on the inside you can read this: "only a table is the right height". And also this (see below), the piece called "no ideas but in things," a neon installation dated 1999 and 2002, mounted on a wall of what looks to be a study or workroom.

"Before the days of television and mass media, the folksinger was often a traveling newspaper spreading tales through music. There is an urgent need for Americans to look deeply into themselves and their actions, and musical poetry is perhaps the most effective mirror available. Every newspaper headline is a potential song."

That's Phil Ochs, introducing to "The Marines Have Landed on the Shores of Santo Domingo" on Phil Ochs in Concert and There But for Fortune.

photo dated 1966

Here is an announcement we sent around today:

The Chinese/American Association for Poetry and Poetics (CAAP), initiated by Marjorie Perloff, Charles Bernstein, and Nie Zhenzhao, was established in January 2008 with its headquarters at Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing (CPCW), University of Pennsylvania, USA.

This is an international academic organization devoted to the study of poetry and poetics, focusing on the scholarship and translation of international poetry, with special emphasis on the study and translation of North American poetry in China and Chinese poetry in North America, but also with a commitment to see North American poetry and Chinese poetry in a global context. The association will endeavor to introduce American and Western poetry and poetics to China so as to produce new energy for Chinese poetry and its study, and to introduce Chinese poetry and poetics to America and the world. Attention will also be paid to the scholarship and translation of philosophical approaches to poetry and translation so as to promote the study of poetry and poetics in the context of literary studies.

A non-profit organization, CAAP is composed of scholars and poets of America, China and other parts of the world. It is chaired by Marjorie Perloff, professor emerita at Stanford University and former president of the Modern Language Association of America and American Association of Comparative Literature. Charles Bernstein, professor of University of Pennsylvania and fellow of American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and Nie Zhenzhao, professor of Central China Normal University, vice president of the China National Association of Foreign Literature and chief editor of Foreign Literature Studies (FLS), an AHCI source journal, serve as vice presidents. The current association board is composed of the American and Chinese scholars and poets (See below).

CAAP will sponsor academic activities such as scholarly conferences, exchanges of scholars, translation, and publication. All scholars and poets who share the interests of this Association are warmly welcome to join. The email address is

President: Marjorie Perloff
Vice Presidents: Charles Bernstein
Nie Zhenzhao
Executive director: Luo Lianggong

Members of CAAP Board:
Dong, Hongchuan Sichuan International Studies University, China
Er, Zhang Evergreen College, USA
Filreis, Al University of Pennsylvania, USA
Hu, Sishe Xi’an International Studies University, China
Huang, Yunte University of California at Santa Barbara, USA
Jiang, Hongxin Hunan Normal University, China
Li, Zhimin Guangzhou University, China
Lin, Tan New Jersey City University, USA
Liu, Jianjun Northeast Normal University, China
Luo, Lianggong Wuhan University of Technology, China
Luo, Yimin Southwest Normal University, China
Ma, Ming-Qian State University of New York at Buffalo, USA
Ning, Yizhong Beijing Language and Culture University, China
Ou, Hong Sun Yat-sen University, China
Qian, Zhaoming University of New Orleans, USA
Saussy, Haun Yale University, USA
Schwartz, Leonard Evergreen College, USA
Slaymaker, Doug University of Kentucky, USA
Sun, Jian Fudan University, China
Twitchell, Jeff Overseas Family College, Singapore
Yang, Jincai Nanjing University, China
Yeh, Michelle University of California at Davis, USA
Yin, Qiping Zhejiang University, China
Yu, Tim University of Toronto, Canada

Here is my one-minute lecture on the end of the lecture. I gave it on a spring day in 1999. (Thanks, belatedly, to Val Ross for inviting me to participate the "60-Second Lecture Series" she created.)

I've written here several times — perhaps several times too many — on this topic. Here's an instance. And here's another.