For three decades I have been presenting my students with two versions of Wiliam Carlos Wiliams's "Young Woman at a Window." How was the poem revised? Do the versions disclose the method of revision? Does one version better befit Williams's apparent aims at condensation, action rather than explication? And what and where is the poem's subject position? I sometimes have led a discussion by asking others to decide which of the two versions they prefer, assuming they prefer modern poems to do in themselves, as writing, what they say. There is of course no need to prefer one version of this or any poem to another, but the preferential exercise decenters the teacher-presenter in ways I have found very productive.
The memory of Kenneth Rexroth goes back into my distant past. I had been aware of him since the 1940s but with renewed interest during the 1950s & the emergence of the San Francisco Renaissance & that early Beat Generation for which he was an older spokesman. With David Antin & others, circa 1958, I was coming into contact with poets outside of our immediate neighborhood &, as with Kenneth, outside of our own generation.
I think our first meeting with him was under the pretext of doing an interview for Chelsea Review, during its early period, when Robert Kelly & George Economou were among the co-founders & editors.
When I last wrote about the Black Writers Museum, I discussed how its unique mission was embroidered in every aspect of its physicality. When I returned to delve into the archive itself and bring forward some of its collection, I realized the best way to describe it was to offer it up in its collaged, multivalent reality. It’s a lot like being in a poem--an intense, challenging poem. There’s a sense of the disjointed collecting itself into something more powerful than its constituent words, lines or images.
Ginsberg & Burroughs talking with Studs Terkel — a PennSound recording now segmented into topics. It is now available at PennSound's Allen Ginberg page. (Many thanks to Domenic Gibby Casciato, PennSound staffer, for expertly doing the segmenting.)
Canto Diurno, my Selected Poems (1972-2012) in French (translations coordinated by Jean Portante) and with a foreword by Charles Bernstein, was published this month by Le Castor Astral in their "Les Passeurs d'Inuits" series. Many thanks to Jean Portante, Jean-Yves Reuzeau, Jacques Darras & Charles Bernstein for their invaluable contributions.