Commentaries - April 2011

Ken Edwards on Poetry/UK in the 70s, Moser on Introvert, Attack review, Caen pix

Maggie O'Sullivan and Bob Cobbing in 1985.
Maggie O'Sullivan and Bob Cobbing in 1985.

In "Good times, bad times," Ken Edwards discusses Robert Sheppard's new book, When Bad Times Made for Good Poetry and his own central work in the innovative poetry scene in the U.K. from the mid-70s to the mod-80s, while he was editing Reality Street. He also touches on the contemporary U.K. reaction to L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.

Todos somos Erroristas

¡Viva el error!

“The point was to develop an art as poetically unpredictable as a dream, and then hurl it like a football into an unbelievable reality.” (Brian Holmes on Etcétera, later to transpose into the Errorist International)

Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions

... just when you thought it was safe to go back to the poetry waters ....

Attack cover

Attack of the Difficult Poems
Essays and Inventions
University of Chicago Press

Joyce the inverted nationalist

James T. Farrell and James Joyce
James T. Farrell (left) and James Joyce

In 1944 the New York Times commissioned then widely read novelist James T. Farrell--an "ethnic proletarian" novelist who came of age in the radical context of the Depression, author of Studs Lonigan etc.--to make a commentary on James Joyce. Farrell wrote about his main topic: being Irish in the Irish diaspora. Below is the first paragraph of the essay Farrell wrote for the December 31, 1944 Times and here is a link to the whole piece.

This race and this country and this life produced me," declares Stephen Dedalus--artistic image of James Joyce himself--in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." "A Portrait" is the story of how Stephen was produced, how he rejected that which produced him, how he discovered that his destiny was to become a lonely one of artistic creation. It is well to look into the life out of which Stephen came, to discuss the social and national background of this novel. In Ireland a major premise of any discussion of her culture and of her literature is an understanding of Irish nationalism. And it is at least arguable that Joyce was a kind of inverted nationalist--that the nationalism which he rejects runs through him like a central thread.

Frank Kuenstler's films

@ PennSound Cinema

"El Atlantis" (1973, 21 minutes)
from footage from the early or mid-1950s; soundtrack – a toy piano, played by Kuenstler, "tape slowed, edited, adjusted to fit the images" [Michael O'Brien]

Frank Kuenstler (1928-1996) was a poet best known for his remarkable LENS (1964, published by Film Culture; available in full from Eclipse). While Kuenstler's  work as a film maker was rumored, the films themeselves only surfaced recently, ...