[The following conference report chronicles — “for the record” — the range of events at last year’s Outside-in/Inside-out festival of outside and subterranean poetry in Glasgow. The starting point, of course, was Barbaric Vast & Wild (Poems for the Millennium, volume 5, Black Widow Press, 2013), coedited by myself & John Bloomberg-Rissman — a small move toward what John and I were calling, unabashedly, an omnipoetics. (J.R.)]
In her work, Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry, Evie Shockley reads Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Anniad,” Sonia Sanchez’s Does Your House Have Lions?, and Harryette Mullen’s Muse & Drudge as epics. She analyzes how their poetics pressure the genre and how their texts “achieve something with the epic that it was not created to do.” Who tells the story for and about the community, and how it is told, is radically transformed. In her analysis, Shockley is also asking questions about reading. She suggests Brooks, Sanchez, and Mullen “require us to accommodate new kinds of heroes and questions, previously unrecognizable as such because of the race, gender, class, and sexual presumptions that have attended the genre of the epic as it developed within the Anglo-American literary tradition.” What do we perceive and what do we render in advance “unrecognizable” when read through a received lens?
Litia Perta asks us to think about criticism as a practice of care and not as attack. This suggests a type of attention, a generative reading method that moves alongside a work and not against it. When I write about the authors’ works in my project, I am writing alongside and toward.
In the past month, I’ve begun another, not unrelated, practice of breathing more space into my body.
Women experimental writers working alongside-within a poetic genre can breathe space into it.
On November 11, 2008, the Kelly Writers House hosted a program called “William Carlos Williams and the Women: The Legacy of WCW at 125.” Sarah Dowling, Jena Osman, Pattie McCarthy, and Michelle Taransky. Here, above, is a portion of the video recording of this event — Jena Osman’s talk on sentimentality and objectification in Williams’s imagism.
The New Zealander Rewi Alley (1897–1987) was raised in a progressive home imbued with a range of ideals (educational, suffragist, and in favor of Henry George-style land reform) during the late Victorian period of colonial settlement by English migrants. This vibrant and highly energized (and energizing) young man had a mixed rural and urban upbringing during the light-leftist Liberal Government of Premier Richard Seddon, and his urban secondary school (Christchurch Boys’ High School) was then a site of Anglophile and imperialistic views as well as an elite “prep” school for Canterbury College. It is no surprise, therefore, that Rewi and his elder brother (Eric) volunteered to serve in the slaughter of the Great War, Eric dying at the Somme (1916) and Rewi badly wounded after acts of great valor near Cambrai-Baupame in late 1918.
The New Zealander Rewi Alley (1897–1987) was raised in a progressive home imbued with a range of ideals (educational, suffragist, and in favor of Henry George-style land reform) during the late Victorian period of colonial settlement by English migrants.