Charles Bernstein

Fraud’s phantoms: Czernin and Schmatz

from Attack of the Difficult Poems

This is an excerpt from "Fraud’s Phantoms: A Brief Yet Unreliable Account of Fighting Fraud with Fraud (No Pun on Freud Intended), with Special Reference to the Poetics of Ressentiment" from Attack of the Difficult Poems: Essays and Inventions

In the early summer of 1986, two young Austrian poets, Franz Josef Czernin and Ferdinand Schmatz, had the idea to write poems that closely resembled the poems they found most typical and at the same time most deplorable in contemporary poetry volumes, for example the work of Rainer Kunze, Günther Kunert, and Sarah Kirsch. At first they had the idea to call the poet Irene Schwaighofer (silent court), a poet born in a little town in upper Austria, who, familiar through schooling with the tenets of modernism, would need no time to forge her own distinctive style and upon being published would proceed to win many prizes and much praise. However, Czernin and Schmatz felt this process would take too long and in order to shorten the “difficult and boring” process, decided to give authorship of the poems to Czernin. They completed the work in a few weeks and the book was immediately accepted for publication under the title Die Reise (the journey). The book received positive attention, some of which suggested that at last Czernin has given up his thrashing about in the waters of experimentation and found a more profound and authentic voice. When Czernin broke the news of his own duplicitous relation to the poems in Der Spiegel in March 1987, a furious hale of criticism descended upon him, not the least from the publisher of the book, who felt he had been betrayed. Later the same year,  Czernin and Schmatz published a book-length account of the story together with exchanges between them and several interlocking essays.

Nathaniel Mackey reads from Nod House

from Nod House (new from New Directions)
reading on Close Lisening:

a 1,000-piece work by Stephen Spretnjak


Stephen Spretnjak describes the work this way:

Jorge Santiago Perednik (1952-2011)

photo: Ernesto Livon-Grosman (detail)

Jorge Santiago Perednik, who was born in Buenos Aires in 1952, was the author of poetry, essays, and translations. He died this morning in Buenos Aires.

Perednik was  a poet of transformations and intimacies, gestures and jests, epochal lyrics and lyric epics, lurid lines and luring stanzas. The sheer intelligence of his social critique brushes constantly against the shine of his poems' sounds and cuts.

His poetry collections include El Shock de los Lender (1986), El fin del no (1991), and El Gran Derrapador (2002), among others. His poems have appeared in English in The XUL Reader (1992) The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry (2009); and The Shock of the Lenders and Other Poems is forthcoming from Action Books. He has translated poets including Charles Olson and Jerome Rothenberg into Spanish. Perednik is Director of the Program of Advanced Studies in Poetry at the University of Buenos Aires. He founded XUL Magazine in 1980.

XUL  and the The XUL Reader are on line here.

A one hour interview and reading, produced by Ernesto Livon-Grosman, is available here at PennSound.

The Pale Impromptu: Samuel Greenberg poems

American second wave modernist Greenberg was born in 1893 and died in 1917

The first publication of Samuel Greenberg's poetry was Poems from the Greenberg manuscripts: a selection from the work of Samuel B. Greenberg, ed. James Laughlin (New Directions, 1939). Laughlin carefully transcribed from Greenberg's  notebooks the best – as he put it – of Greenberg's poems. He also including a holograph reproduction of "Conduct." Laughlin called Greenberg's work "pure poetry":"The poetry of Greenberg is not great poetry, and it is not even important minor poetry ... and yet ... poetry it is, pure poetry, to the extent equal to few other writers."

In a 2010 issue of Larry's Fagin's Sal Mimeo no. 9, there was a selection of poems by Greenberg. Fagin explains: "I had collected some of the Greenberg poems in the past, having run across the New Directions [1947] annual, Spearhead, in an U.S. military library in Frankfurt in 1954. Laughlin kept the original spellings and forms. Like many, I was disappointed in the Holt edition and generally avoided it." Spearhead contains an almost exact republication of Poems from the Greenberg manuscripts, from nine years ealier. I include here the poems published by Fagin, following Laughlin's versions, that are not already on the web at the Greenberg site.

I have had to approximate the shape of "Ruins of Prince Qulachrim" for this HTML version. And I have redone "The Pale Impromptu" based on the manuscript, which is provided befow, thanks to Marvin Taylor at NYU's Fales Collection.