The J2 week began, as it usually does, in Philadelphia at Kelly Writers House, with a parcel from Belladonna* books (which I opened while listening to PennSound's new Belladonna* reading series archive, spanning 1999-2009). And then, I went on the road (thinking of it as, instead, "The Wide Road") to do some poetry readings and workshops in Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago and Iowa City, where I met editors from Rescue Press and Lightful Press who handed me review copies. Now, back in the J2 offices, I have a lovely stack of new titles from presses including Shearsman, BlazeVOX, continuum, Reality Street, FSG, Carnegie Mellon and Starcherone (pictured below) I'll post details about shortly.
Since I started work as reviews editor in February 2010, the office I share with Writers House director and Jacket2 associate publisher Jessica Lowenthal has been transformed into a library of recently published poetry books and chapbooks. With the help of Jacket2 editorial assistants, including Emily Orrson and Sarah Arkebauer, 500 presses were contacted, more than 4,000 emails were exchanged, and nearly 750 books and chapbooks have been received, catalogued, and shelved. Sometimes it feels like Borges’ Library of Babel in here, and other times, like when the middle bookshelf broke in half and books by poets from Barbara Henning to Erín Moure tumbled onto the floor, it feels more like Richard Brautigan’s constantly expanding library in The Abortion.
Marjorie Perloff visited the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia for most of four days this week – as a Kelly Writers House Fellow. For three hours on Monday, she met with 21 undergraduates in the so-called Writers House Fellows Seminar; they had read and discussed her writings for the previous five weeks. That evening – April 25, 2011 – she gave a 55-minute talk that, in part, offered the full context for Marcel Duchamp's attempt to exhibit his pseudonymous readymade, "Fountain" (1917).
Happily, we inaugurate Jacket2. For all the complexity of the work in poetry and poetics you’ll read on these screens, what we’re doing here is I think explained rather simply. We want to preserve what John Tranter has done with Jacket in its first forty issues, and to a significant extent — although in a somewhat new mode and a somewhat different context — continue and extend it. The new mode? A site pushing technically past what’s been called 2.0, with all the vaunted interoperabilities: collaborative editing and rostering of new articles; a rotation of three-months-each guest commentators, able themselves to post contemporaneous responses to various poetics scenes they “cover”; a means of laying out features that enables readers to see at once all diverse elements of materials and responses to a single poet or topic as gathered by a guest editor; an image gallery for uncluttered viewing of many images associated with an article or feature; podcast series (such as PoemTalk and Into the Field) both streamable right on the page and downloadable for free; video players both inline and linked; a Reissues department for making otherwise inaccessible archival material available in full digital facsimile; advanced searching through both new Jacket2 pieces and every single article, review, and announcement ever published in old Jacket; and seamless server-side linked cross-relations between critical responses written for J2 about readings and recordings on one hand and, on the other, all the digital audio (and video) stored in the vast archive known as PennSound. Even as we just get started, dig around and you’ll find a great deal here — and tons of potential.