Commentaries - February 2010
CHICAGO POETRY SYMPOSIUM 2010: Featuring Stephanie Anderson, Garin Cycholl, Al Filreis, Phil Jenks, Nancy Kuhl, and Don Share. With talks on Alice Notley, Sterling Plumpp, Henry Rago, and Margaret Anderson. When and Where: Saturday, April 17, 2009 | 12:30 p.m. through 5:00 p.m. Special Collections Research Center / The Joseph Regenstein Library / University of Chicago / 1100 East 57th Street / Chicago, IL 60637
Contact: David Pavelich, Bibliographer for Modern Poetry / pavelich [at] uchicago.edu /
ABOUT: This event is free and open to the public. The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) at the University of Chicago Library welcomes you to the third annual Chicago Poetry Symposium, a yearly conversation on the history of Chicago poetry. Held in the University of Chicago Library's Special Collections Research Center (SCRC), the event highlights the SCRC's strong archival and book holdings in the history of Chicago poetry, including the papers of Harriet Monroe and her Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, Paul Carroll, Chicago Review, Flood Editions, Ralph J. Mills, Jr., Michael Anania, and others.
12:30-12:45: Welcoming remarks
David Pavelich, Bibliographer for Modern Poetry, University of Chicago Library
12:45-1:45: A Discussion on the Work of Sterling Plumpp
"It was very south": the Geography of Chicago and Mississippi in the Poetry of Sterling Plumpp
Garin Cycholl, Instructor in Creative Writing, University of Chicago, and author of several books of poetry
Phil Jenks, poet, author of My first painting will be "The accuser" (2005) and On the cave you live in (2002)
1:45-2:00: Break for refreshments
2:00-3:15: Avant-Garde Editors and their Magazines
Making No Compromise: Margaret Anderson and the Little Review
Nancy Kuhl, Curator of Poetry for the Yale Collection of American Literature at the Beinecke Library
Curating Location: Alice Notely and Chicago Magazine
Stephanie Anderson, Doctoral student in the English Department, University of Chicago
3:15-4:30. A Discussion on the Work and Legacy of Henry Rago
Slow Music: The Two Eras of Henry Rago
Al Filreis, Kelly Professor of English; Faculty Director of the Kelly Writers House; Director, the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing; and Director of PennSound; University of Pennsylvania
Henry Rago and the Wider Door
Don Share, Senior Editor, Poetry Magazine
Tonight John Tranter and I are sending out the following announcement:
We are writing with news of a transition we both deem very exciting.
By the end of 2010, John Tranter and Pam Brown will have put out 40 issues of Jacket (jacketmagazine.com). It began in what John recalls as "a rash moment" in 1997 - an early all-online magazine, one of the earliest in the world of poetry and poetics, and quite rare for its consistency over the years. "The design is beautiful, the contents awesomely voluminous, the slant international modernist and experimental." (So said _The Guardian_.)
After issue 40, John will retire from thirteen years of intense every-single-day involvement with Jacket, and the entire archive of thousands of web pages will move intact to servers at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where it will of course be available on the internet to everyone, for free, as always. But the magazine is not ceasing publication: quite the opposite.
Starting with the first issue in 2011, Jacket will have a new home, extra staff and a vigorous future as Jacket2. Jacket and its continuation, Jacket2, will be hosted by the Kelly Writers House and PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania.
The connection with PennSound, a vast and growing archive of audio recordings of poetry performance, discussion and criticism, is seen as a valuable additional facet of the new magazine, as is the relationship with busy Kelly Writers House, a lively venue for day-to-day poetic interchange of all kinds. The synergy in this three-way relationship has great potential.
Al will become Publisher and Jessica Lowenthal, Director of the Writers House, will be Associate Publisher. The new Editors will be Michael S. Hennessey (currently Managing Editor of PennSound) and Julia Bloch. John will be available as Founding Editor, and Pam will continue as Associate Editor.More news about Jacket2 in the weeks and months to come. Meantime, the Jacket2 folks extend gratitude -- as many in the world of poetics do -- to John and to Pam Brown for the extraordinary work they've done. And John, for his part, is mightily pleased that Jacket will be preserved and will continue and grow in a somewhat new mode but with a continuous mission and approach.
- John Tranter & Al Filreis
Susan reads. David plays. Further sounds from this duo set on stretching your mind to its limit. Studying poetry has never been so rewarding. The Drag City is one source for this recording. Now Wire (subtitled "Adventures in Modern Music") is making the work available in streaming audio here.
Jack Spicer, "Psychoanalysis: An Elegy"
Julia Bloch, CA Conrad, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis joined Al Filreis to talk about Jack Spicer’s early poem of 1949, “Psychoanalysis: An Elegy.” Sections of the poem are framed by what is either meant to be an unironic prompt or a satirized annoyance: What are you thinking about? - What are you thinking? – What are you thinking now? The speaker is the analysand and the poem is the means by which the analysand talks his way through to the poem. Is his major concern – the supposed problem for which the poem is a talking cure – that the poem “could go on forever”? The sexual longing, the pain and the dislocation of the California summer are all – together – topics “I would like to write a poem” about. Increasingly annoyed by the sameness of the analyst’s refrain (“Do you get me, Doctor?”), he pushes his sexual conceits to a hottest point, when summers are seen to “torture California,” when “the damned maps burn” and the “mad cartographer” (whom the PoemTalkers agree is the speaker himself)
Falls to the ground and possesses
The sweet thick earth from which he has been hiding.
What he has been hiding? The significance of his homosexuality? And why, by the way, might California in 1949 be just the spot, as it were, on the geohistorical map for the psychoanalytic mode of talking about what one is hiding about oneself? We explore a range of possible answers to that question, including biographical and ideological. Julia and Al note in particular that this was the time of anticommunist investigations into “disloyal” faculty teaching in the University of California system, especially at Berkeley – that jobs, but also identities (including secret identities) were at risk. (Spicer was among those who refused to sign the loyalty oath imposed on faculty by the state government.) Whereupon Conrad observes that the witch-hunts almost inexorably targeted gays both open and closeted. Rachel concludes with a cogent interpretation of the gendering in the poem and of the sexual hiding. What remains wide open is the question of whether, in the end, this poem says mockingly and happily goodbye to psychoanalysis as a mode of self-understanding, or affirms analysis as having done its job for the poet in particular. Does the realization that “a poem could go on forever” seem to affirm the talking-through process, the topical wandering, the going wherever thought goes? Or does that just add to the torture of this endless summer? Both, it would seem.
This episiode of PoemTalk was engineered and directed by James LaMarre and edited by Steve McLaughlin. It was recorded as usual in our third-floor garrett studio at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia. Next on PoemTalk: Rae Armantrout is in town and is joined by Tom Devaney and Linh Dinh to talk about Kit Robinson's "Return on Word." After that, Robert Grenier, another Californian, comes east to talk with Charles Bernstein and Bob Perelman about two short William Carlos Williams poems to which Bob Grenier goes back again and again--an episode, thus, that makes Williams the first poet featured twice in our series, which will by then be marking its 30th episode.
Above from left to right: Rachel Blau DuPlessis, CA Conrad, Julia Bloch.