I recently re-read Helen Vendler’s 1986 review of Milton Bates’s A Mythology of Self (1985) and Albert Gelpi’s collection of essays (The Poetics of Modernism, 1985) which included Marjorie Perloff on Stevens experience (or inexperience) during World War 2, Michael Davidson’s critique of Stevens as not a prosodic innovator, and Alan Golding on Stevens and Zukofsky. (I have insufficient space here to deal with Vendler’s complex reaction to Perloff’s piece – a topic that should surely occasion another foray into the matter.)
Vendler was in general not fond of the essays collected by Gelpi, but she did admire Milton Bates — whose meticulous book was the first full-length biographical/intellectual/historical reading of Stevens.
Ray B. West, editor of The Western Review (published for years out of the University of Iowa), went on a rare leave of absence and left things to an acting editor, Richard Freedman. (Paul Engle, faculty director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, served as the magazine’s advisory editor.) While Freedman was minding the editorial store, the magazine published as its Spring 1957 issue a selection of twenty-one poets who had come of age in the late 1940s and early 1950s – “essentially,” Freedman noted, “the generation which has developed since the Second World War.” Richard Stern chose the poets and poems.
On December 5, 2013, David Wilk released his interview with me, Charles Bernstein and Michael Hennessey about PennSound. At his WritersCast site, Wilk explains:
In this series of interviews, calledPublishing Talks, I have been talking to book industry professionals and other smart people about the future of publishing, books, and culture. This is a period of disruption and change for all media businesses. We must wonder now, how will publishing evolve as our culture is affected by technology, climate change, population density, and the ebb and flow of civilization and economics? It’s my hope that these conversations can help us understand the outlines of what is happening in publishing and writing, and how we might ourselves interact with and influence the future of publishing as it unfolds.
On December 3, 2013, Pierre Joris discussed Paul Celan’s poetry, with special focus on his response to the genocide of Europe’s Jews and others during World War II. The session, which I moderated, featured close readings of passages of “Death Fugue” and “Stretto.” Joris played an audio recording of Celan reading the first section of “Death Fugue,” and a newly discovered video recording made from Celan’s appearance on German television.
Stephen Collis is an important contemporary poet, with ten books of poems published, at least eight of them as substantive book publications. To the Barricades (Talon, 2013) is one of the books in a trilogy going under the title “The Barricades Project.” Here the poet maintains a shifting or fluid form of social address (“on the run,” is what one reviewer noted), and this is the formal expression of the works’ content. Together, all the work seeks to form cities of words. The compilings of negativities (e.g. in a poem called “Threshold song” [p. 128]) suggest their hopeful opposites – spaces inhabited, or at least occupied, by the very coal ports, containers, parties, societies, and species that seem to have vacated. The project is clear and striking – holds out possibilities even through its negations.