Articles - May 2011

Sentimental spaces

On Mei-mei Berssenbrugge's 'Nest'

“And what a quantity of animal beings there are in the being of a man!” — Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space[1

In The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre takes a moment to castigate Gaston Bachelard for an embarrassing failure: Bachelard has a soft spot for the home, sentimentally taking it out of the realm of social space and identifying it with the natural dwelling of animals, the nest. Space, Lefebvre famously argues, is produced. Far from being a neutral and preexisting medium or natural resource available for use, it is both a product and a means of production, fashioned dialectically through a confluence of historical, material, and cultural factors.[2] Yet the home  is all too often made out to be the exception, the space outside production, the space outside space, even.

Robert Duncan's notes on Ron Silliman's 'Opening'

In 1974, John Taggart asked Ron Silliman to write an essay for an issue of Maps (#6 - special Robert Duncan issue) on the work of Duncan.

Introduction to the poetry and poetics of 1960

Two months before 1960 commenced, Stanley Kunitz in Harper’s Magazine redefined the word “experimental” to mean the inevitable resistance to any prevailing style for the sake of “keep[ing] it supple.” Yet at the time of his writing, the turn of this new decade, “the nature of that resistance is in effect a backward look.” The recent Pulitzer Prize winner added: “This happens not to be a time of great innovation in poetic technique: it is rather a period in which the technical gains of past decades, particularly the twenties, are being tested and consolidated.”

The Baroness in little magazine history

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, thistle down flight (detail). Djuna Barnes Papers, Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries.

The Little Review magazine published Dadaist Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s poetry during the height of a dialectic phase in little magazine culture when conversations about the nature of literature and “the literary” were ubiquitous. In particular, readers contested the value of Dada poetry and “the Baroness” became coterminous with what some considered the worst of this experimental movement.

Bringing Harry Mathews to PennSound (and you)

Chris Funkhouser working with the Mathews tapes. Photo by Anna Baechtold.

Editorial note: Today, we’re very happy to unveil a new PennSound author page for author Harry Mathews.  While the page contains one reading previously available on the site (a 2002 reading from the Lytle Shaw-curated Line Reading Series), the majority of these materials were gathered by PennSound senior editor Chris Funkhouser, and I’ve asked him to write about his experience discovering these recordings in Penn’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library. — Michael S. Hennessey

Teaching a course at University of Pennsylvania in fall 2010, I made weekly pilgrimages to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center. Early on, I met John Pollack, public services specialist of the Rare Book and Manuscript Library (housed at Van Pelt), who cordially welcomed me and facilitated my research in this archive throughout the term.