The PoemTalk team went on the road again — to Los Angeles, California, and convened at the Pacific Palisades home of Marjorie Perloff, who for the third time in PoemTalk history generously agreed to host. Along with audio maestro Chris Martin and videographer-director Zach Carduner — who recording this episode for both audio and video playback — Al Filreis was joined by Robert von Hallberg, Charles Altieri, and by our host Marjorie Perloff.
Al Filreis and Zach Carduner traveled to Los Angeles to the home of Marjorie Perloff, where they made a sound recording and film of a convesation about a poem by John Ashbery with Susan McCabe, Robert von Hallberg, and Marjorie herself. The poem is “The Short Answer” from a late book, Quick Question (2013). There are, abounding, the usual marooned pronouns, and the typically high “daftness quotient.” Marjorie and Al chose this poem with the goal of exploring of what it means to read closely and talk in detail about a seemingly “minor” poem from a “major” poet — a poem that might strike readers as an effect of Ashbery’s incessant and seemingly easeful poetic fermentation.
In 2003 a forum was held to discuss the Cambridge Literary History of the U.S. One discussion featured disagreements about how to handle the history of American poetry and of literary-historical method as applicable--or perhaps not--to poetry and poetics. I was asked to comment on the debate, and my short essay was published in a special section of an issue of American Literary History. Here is a link to that essay.