Claude Royet-Journound Royet-Journoud reads "A la ressemblance des bêtes" from Théorie des prépositions, P.O.L, 2007 "Kardia," Eric Pesty éditeur, 2009 "Asservissement de l'air à son vacarme," A la Pension Victoria, 2011
Cole Swensen’s book Ours is a sequence of poems — or is perhaps best described as a poetic project. André Le Nôtre (1613-1700) was the principal gardener of King Louis XIV; he designed and led the construction of the park of the Palace of Versailles. The poems in Swensen’s book indicate a range of interests in Le Nôtre’s work and beyond, but his Gardens of the Château de Vaux-le-Vicomte are of special interest, and they are the topic of the poem we chose to discuss, “If a Garden of Numbers.” The poem, and our talk about it, raised a number of compelling questions. Are historical research and the lyric compatible?
Lately I’ve been particularly interested in researching and reading about the history of CUNY and the role of poets and writers within that history. By this, I mean the history of Basic Writing and SEEK (at CCNY) and the poet-activists that taught in the early days of these programs. As Adrienne Rich writes in “Teaching Language in Open Admissions,” “At that time [the late 1960’s] a number of writers, including Toni Cade Bambara, the late Paul Blackburn, Robert Cumming, David Henderson, June Jordan, were being hired to teach writing in the SEEK Program…” (55). The SEEK Program (Search for Education, Elevation, and Knowledge) was chaired by Mina Shaughnessy in this time period, an administrator and teacher known for her work in Basic Writing and her support of Open Admissions at CUNY. Rich describes Shaughnessy as knowing "that education was not only a means of access to power, but a form of power in itself: the power of expression, of language."
This link between language and power is perhaps nothing new, but what really strikes me here is context — the context that this conversation is happening in a “remedial” class and the body at the front of the room is authoring texts that might not conform to the myriad of “rules” one assumes are part and parcel of this particular classroom.