The Testimonies of Russian and American Postmodern Poetry: Reference, Trauma, and History (Bloomsbury, 2014) is divided in half. The first part looks at 1970s/1980s Russian (Moscow) conceptual poetry and poetics, focussing on Dmitry Prigov and Lev Rubinstein (Rubinshtein) but also on the "meta-realists" Elena Schvarts and Alexi Parschikov (Arkadii Dragomoschenko is a key poet for this context, though not a main subject here). Artists Grisha Bruskin and Ilya Kabakov are also main subjects. The second part of the book makes an analogy between both Moscow conceptualism and St. Petersburg metarealist poetry and the 1970s/1980s poetry/poetics associated with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E. Lutzkanova-Vassileva offers detailed readings of Bob Perelman, Bruce Andrews Steve McCaffery, David Melnick, Ron Silliman, as well as my work. Lutzkanova-Vassileva also traces the connection to the Russian futurists (Shklovsky, Khelbinikov, Kruchenykh). Her commentary is focussed on the ways the poems she addresses respond the emerging technological/digital environment of the time. While quite different in its readings, the work bears some resemblance to Jacob Edmond's cross-national approach inCommon Strangeness. Lutzkanova-Vassileva provides remarkably illuminating close readings of many poems, with an emphasis on the social and political meanings of invented poetic forms. This is a remarkable study both for its Russian/American comparative approach and for it's thoughtful reading of each poet and artist.
Is a first reading possible? Perhaps a quick reading, or a reading on the fly… Inevitably, even my quick reading has a trail – from learning to read (“sound it out”), to habits learned in school (close reading; theme-based reading; the ongoing baggage of New Criticism), to the informed readings we are expected to practice in essays and reviews. There are plenty of other theoretical, historical, and cultural frameworks that (for me) might become a part of subsequent readings. In this reading, what I mean by a first reading is one that does not reach much beyond my initial impressions and thoughts. Or, another way to think of a first reading is (ideally) a radical empiricism, or a reading that moves in the direction of beginner’s mind.
Armand Garnet Ruffo was born in Chapleau, northern Ontario, with roots to the Sagamok Ojibwe First Nation and the Chapleau Fox Lake Cree First Nation. Ruffo’s first collection of poetry, Opening In The Sky (1994), reveals an abiding interest in the complexities of Aboriginal identity in a multi-cultural society.
Montreal writer and musician David McGimpsey has been the author, for about 20 years now, of what he calls “chubby sonnets,” each sonnet consisting of sixteen metred lines instead of the usual fourteen. The author of a critical study on baseball writing and a collection of short stories as well as five poetry collections—Lardcake (ECW Press, 1996), Dogboy(ECW Press, 1998),