Commentaries - February 2010

Vendlerian caffeination

Spotted at Dunkin Donuts last evening in New York: Helen Vendler. She was on her way to speak about Whitman at the 92nd Street Y, when my favorite literary photographer, Lawrence Schwartzwald, noticed her caffeinating herself in prep for a bout with the great bard's energy. I'm in Banff, Alberta, at the moment, and it's nice to know that the camera's eye is keeping track of things back east.


"off the wall"

Screenshot of article about Jacket2 in the "Daily Pennsylvanian"

“[John] Tranter broke new ground in terms of serious criticism of poetry being spread all over the world,” [new editor Mike] Hennessey said.

Media Editor Steve McLauglin, a 2008 [Univ. of Pennsylvania] alumnus, is going on a two month bus trip this summer with his audio recorder to record poetry readings from all across the United States to use as podcasts for Jacket2.

“This project is an example of the kind of thing that doesn’t happen very often. Off-the-wall stuff happens at the Writers House,” McLaughlin said.

According to Charles Bernstein, American poet and Penn English professor, “the Web is the quickest and economically most efficient way to get poetry out there.”

Jacket is one of the most appealing and best edited of literary magazines that exists,” Bernstein said.


The capacity of patterns

Architecture and design

My former student Paul Andersen has now created a design studio in Denver called “IndieArchitecture.” It’s a design and research group that takes on a variety of projects — from designing buildings to writing books to curating contemporary art exhibitions. As an alternative to mainstream, mass produced, and corporately funded architecture, the office embraces its small market status, is associated with collegiate backpack intellectualism, and consistently seeks new ways of disseminating architectural and urban ideas. Paul, the director, has taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and Cornell University, and is a guest curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. “Conceptually,” says Paul, “we maintain an ongoing interest in patterns — visual patterns, but also behavioral, structural, organizational and other types of patterns. Patterns have a unique capacity for integrating a wide range of materials, functions, forms, environmental systems, and even cultural trends in a coherent and technically precise project. They bridge worlds of knowledge and matter, art and science, and for us, research and practice.” [website]

An algorithmic poem/painting

Suicide in an Airplane (1919) is an algorithmic poem/painting by Brian Kim Stefans with music by Leo Ornstein, played by Marc Andre Hamellin.Suicide in an Airplane (1919) is an algorithmic poem/painting by Brian Kim Stefans with music by Leo Ornstein, played by Marc Andre Hamellin. The text is derived from the New York Times. Download it at Brian's site

Taking Freud out of psychoanalysis

David Antin

A talk by David Antin
"Rethinking Freud – Taking Freud out of Psychoanalysis"
3:00 PM Tuesday February 16
at the Kelly Writers House
A talk by David Antin
"Rethinking Freud – Taking Freud out of Psychoanalysis"
3:00 PM Tuesday February 16
at the Kelly Writers House

You can watch by live video stream:

David Antin is a poet, performance artist, art and literary critic internationally known for his "talk pieces" -- improvisational blends of comedy, story and social commentary that critics have described as "a cross between Lenny Bruce and Ludwig Wittgenstein" or alternately as "a blend of Mark Twain and Gertrude Stein." New Directions has published three books of these "talk pieces" -- Talking at the Boundaries (1976), Tuning (1984), and What it Means to Be Avant-Garde (1993). Tuning was awarded the prize for poetry for 1984 by the PEN Center of Los Angeles. Much of his earlier work was collected in Selected Poems 1963-1973 published by Sun and Moon Press in 1991. Antin has performed at the Whitney Museum, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Getty Center in the U.S., at the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, and performed both improvised and scripted verbal works for radio and television. Antin has designed Skypoems, short texts he describes as "commercials that aren't selling anything," that have been skytyped over Los Angeles and San Diego, and Word Walks for urban parks, as well as an ongoing electronic poem for an airport. He received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the NEH and was awarded the PEN Los Angeles Award for Poetry in 1984. He has published criticism in most major art and literary journals, and his work has been written about in The Poetics of Indeterminacy, Marjorie Perloff (Princeton, 1981); The Object of Performance, Henry Sayre (Chicago, 1989); The Jazz Text, Charles O. Hartman (Princeton, 1991). An extensive interview with him has been published in Some Other Frequency: Interviews with Innovative American Authors, ed. Larry McCaffery, U. Penn. 1996, and the Review of Contemporary Fiction devoted its entire Spring 2001 issue to his work. Dalkey Archive recently republished his 1972 book talking (originally published by Kulchur Foundation) with a Preface by Marjorie Perloff and a Postface by David Antin. Granary Books recently published A Conversation with David Antin, the text of a three month email conversation between David Antin and Charles Bernstein. The most recent works include two new collection of talk pieces -- I Never Knew What Time It Was (UC Press, 2005) and John Cage Uncaged is Still Cagey (Singing Horse, 2005).