Editorial note: We have received a letter from Cole Swensen in response to “Cultural Riches?” — a piece in the Commune Editions commentary series by Jasper Bernes, Joshua Clover, and Juliana Spahr. We reprint the letter in full, here. — Jessica Lowenthal, Jacket2 associate publisher
I’d like to respond to the allegations made in Jasper Bernes’, Joshua Clover’s, and Juliana Spahr’s commentary post “Cultural Riches?” The commentary overall conflates the Iowa Writers’ Workshop with the International Writing Program at Iowa, conflates the fiction program and the poetry program within the Workshop itself, and conflates the contemporary moment with the 1950s — and so, not surprisingly, it comes out with some erroneous equations. I’d like to counter just one — the implication that I, because I’m on the advisory board of the International Writing Program, “have been willing to work with the state in the name of soft diplomacy in recent years.” That’s completely absurd and simply a lie. And accusing people falsely gets you no closer to the root of a problem.
On a morning of slow grey drizzle in the southern spring of 1976, at Robert and Cheryl Adamson’s living room table at Lane Cove, Sydney, between bites of a late breakfast and occasional snatches of quiet conversation, Robert Duncan began writing “An Alternate Life,” a poem that evolved from and partly recounts his experiences whilst visiting Australia. He was here on a reading and lecture tour. He’d brought with him the booklets and manuscripts that later became Ground Work: Before the War, his first major collection since Bending the Bow, though it didn’t yet have that title (he referred to its contents generically as “ground work”) and wouldn’t be published until 1984.
This exciting news comes to us from Charlie Morrow:
ROTHENBERG CELEBRATION: On December 11, 2013, www.Misterbowlerradio.com celebrates poet Jerry Rothenberg's 82nd birthday with an online broadcast from producer Bent-Erik Rasmussen’s ICMM studios in Svinø, Denmark. Danny Snelson will celebrate by launching the digital version of Jerry's New Wilderness Letter poetry journal.
Robert Sheppard contributed this piece to Jacketissue 9 to mark the occasion of Bob Cobbing's 75th birthday:
I visited Bob Cobbing, and thus met my first poet, on November 3 1973. I was still at school, keen to put on an exhibition of concrete poetry. I recognised this as the wilder edge of the new British poetry I had discovered through Horovitz' anthology Children of Albion and Bill Butler's Brighton bookshop. In the school library there was, unaccountably, Emmett Williams' An Anthology of Concrete Poetry. Bob was in it.
When I arrived at Randolph Avenue to collect some hansjörg mayer posters, Bob was already talking to a student who was writing a thesis on language in visual art. I listened as they talked and sounded some of the Shakespeare Kaku. I remained mute, uncertain. Bob played a tape of himself and Peter Finch performing e colony from the Five Vowels, a then incomplete project. He showed us the work in progress. I stayed for six hours literally learning the life of a poet.