Commentaries - July 2012

Adrian's footstool

Lounge chair by Gerald Summers

Does a chair sit or stand?

Major authors

When I first began teaching in the MAT program at Bard in 2011, I was asked to propose a graduate course based on the standard areas of study within the literature track, which includes a “major authors” course. I had just completed a dissertation on gender and American poetry after 1945, in which all my major figures were marginalized women poets but in which I had frequently turned to Williams as the major figure of masculine modernism to whom many poets writing after 1945 turn — and away from whom they turn, also. I had become increasingly fascinated with literary inheritance and disavowal, and how theories of gender and identity might help us understand how poetic form behaves genealogically. I kept coming back to Williams as a beloved and contentious figure for American poets both major and marginalized.

George Woodcock and aesthetic tactics

The wonderful Vancouver poet Daphne Marlatt was recently the recipient of the 19th annual George Woodcock Lifetime Achievement Award (administered by the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Public Library). It was also Woodcock’s centenary, and I was asked to say a few words about him.

I imagine that there are fewer and fewer people who remember George Woodcock, who died some 17 years ago. He was a highly influential Canadian “man of letters” (as they used to say) — a poet, critic, travel writer, and author of biographies and other popular works of non-fiction. The founding editor of the journal Canadian Literature in 1959, Woodcock was also an influential political thinker, whose books on anarchist philosophy perhaps did more to popularize that ideology than any other publications in the decades immediately after the Second World War.

What interests me about Woodcock is the fact that these spheres of activity — the literary and the political — appear to have remained fairly distinct and discrete for him, throughout much of his career.

Holocaust Prints by Sigmund Laufer

at The Memorial Library, 58 East 79th St., second floor (between Park Ave. and Madison Ave.), New York, NY

Reception for the show: Sunday, July 15th, from noon to 3pm.
This is the only time the show will be open to the public.

This show features
nine etchings from Sigmund Laufer's series "The Holocaust" from 1960-1964. The series has not been shown together in New York City since Laufer's solo show at the AFI Gallery, 1067 Madison Ave., in 1965.