"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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
President: Marjorie Perloff
Vice Presidents: Charles Bernstein
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'm taken by what's been called "pop surrealism." This is recent (post-2000), mostly southern-California and Detroit-area stuff, but its visual basis seems often to combine 1950s-era kitsch advertisement and space-race era forms, modernist design (and coloring), 1960s TV characters, and skeletal or monstrous deformations and grotesques (cute kittens in a basket, but they have three eyes; a monkey with a clown head carrying a trophy and a dented Arthurian sword across a Hudson School landscape).
There's Charles Kraft's carefully made porcelain figure, with hand-painted underglaze: a rabbit with a dagger stuck in its back, 12" tall - called Sal Mineo Bunny (2000).
Larry Reid's essay on pop surrealism says it combines "mid-century dementia" with "bad-ass low brow." He observes about the 1950s what has been said many times before: "Beneath the thin crust of conformity that characterized mid-century America lay a bubbling caldron of weirdness." Well now, in the first decade of the 21st century, mostly young painters have founded an underground art that looks back at the 50s as non-witnesses who see, or try to see, only the surface (and not the psychological or political depth) of that weirdness - who see the 50s through the pop culture of the 60s and don't show any loyalty to the experience of either.
It's a steady diet of drive-in monster movies, Rat Pack playboys, prehistoric fantasy Flinestones immediately following the futurism of the Jetsons, cathode characters, the anti-Comics hysteria, the mayhem of a 1960-era Los Angeles hot-rod emporium - all combined and gone awry.
Tim Biskup's The Demon Painter (2001 - above) is not actually typical of the group, given what I've said above. Yet then again, it is - in a more specifically painterly way. It nods toward the figure-drawing end of the depictive spectrum modernist Paul Klee painted, pushing it toward cartoonishness, adding a little beatnik straggliness, and creates a dark yet comic vision of the artist's position. I've inserted a few figures from Klee here for comparison, "Dancing Girl" and "The Drummer Boy" (both from the
Isabel Samaras (like Biskup, she's from L.A.) does oil on wood - more straightforward remakings of 60s TV. Batman and Robin sharing a French kiss in Secrets of the Batcave part 2 (2002). A Madonna and Child panel in medieval style - except that they are Hollywood-kitch chimps from Planet of the Apes (Behold My Heart of 2003). Then there's the Botticellian Birth of Ginger of 2002 (below). (It takes off, of course, from the 60s TV show, Gilligan's Island, which is a child, in a way, of the boob-tube version of the Beat revolution, via the Maynard G. Krebs-Gilligan equation.)
Robert Williams, one of the artists included in Pop Surrealism, ed. Kirsten Anderson (Ignition Publishing/Last Gasp, 2004), embraces the category "low brow art," offers topsy-turvey phrases such as "dumbing down to DaVinci," describes his California aesthetic origins in comic book art, carnival-show banners from the 1880s through the 1950s, music posters, hot rod and biker art, pin-up art, graffiti and beach-bum graphics and believes that, visually and more generally culturally speaking, Buster Crabbe as Buck Rogers and John Glenn are the same person.