Charles Bernstein

The swerve of verse: Lucretius' 'Of Things' Nature' and the necessity of poetic form

In a review of the superb Ronald Melville translation of Lucretius's De Rerum Natura (I offer here a new translation of the title: Of Things' Nature), Richard Jenkyns gives an explanation of why this work was written in verse. (He repeats this explanation in his introduction to Alicia Stalling's 2007 translation.):

Pitch of Poetry

cover photo by Lawrence Schwartzwald

University of Chicago Press, Spring 2016 (352 pages |  6 x 9) 

Praised in recent years as a “calculating, improvisatory, essential poet” by Daisy Fried in the New York Times, Charles Bernstein is a leading voice in American literary theory. Pitch of Poetry is his irreverent guide to modernist and contemporary poetics."

Maxwell Clark's +|+ at EPC Digital Library

I am pleased to announce the release of the third volume of Maxwell Clark's poetry published by the EPC Digital Library. Read the pdf here.  

John Clare's vowelless letter (performed)

Plus Partch, Reznikoff, Mother Goose, Khlebnikov, & Joe Hill

My reading of Clare's vowelless letter at the launch for Barbaric Vast & Wild: Poems for the Millennium Vol. V, edited by Jerome Rothenberg  and John Bloomberg-Rissman, at The Poetry Project, Oct. 14, 2015. 

Fourth CAAP Convention in Jinan, China

At my graduate seminar at the University of Pennsylvania the other night, one of the students made a point that is very often made, expressing an anxiety that poetry is luxury for those with time and learning. I thought of Audre Lord’s great essay “Poetry Is Not a Luxury.” Indeed, those who feel they have enough – money, material satisfaction, knowledge – are likely to think that poetry is not necessary: it doesn’t contribute to economic growth, offers no immediate solutions to poverty or climate change, can’t stop political violence or bring about more just societies. W.H. Auden famously wrote “Poetry makes nothing happen.” I take that nothing to be the same place Emily Dickinson invokes when she writes that “no” is the wildest word we consign to language. Poetry is both a wilderness and a desert, the same one the ancient Isrealites wandered in Exodus. And it is just such deserts or wildernesses, such sites of blank or emptiness or nothing, that we have a place for exchange across what otherwise might seem insurmountable borders, as between our two complex and rich cultures of China and the Americas.

2015 Conference Program: PDF

 My opening remarks:

I regret I cannot be in Jinan for the Fourth CAAP Convention – the fifth convention to bring together Chinese scholars and teachers who are engaged with poetry and poetics and the exchange between American and Chinese scholars and poets.