In a discussion published recently in the Sydney Review of Books, the academic and writer Emmett Stinson argued that despite a number of recent assertions to the contrary, an Australian ‘cultural cringe’ persists. Although writers and academics such as Susan Johnson, Ken Gelder and Paul Salzman, and Nick Bryant have variously asserted that Australian culture is ‘enabled by cultural incorporation’ and is ‘punching above its weight in the arts and culture’, for Stinson, the only thing the new ‘literary internationalism’ has enabled is a situation in which the overseas reception of Australian fiction retroactively influences its Australian critical reception. The critical reception of such work, he argues, bears little relation to its literary worth. Of the two examples he mentions, ‘there is something deeply conservative about the aesthetics’.
But it would seem that many critics have been up to just such mischief as Mott makes in his essay. At another meeting of the American Literature Association, as part of a panel sponsored by the Wallace Stevens Society, Notre Dame’s Jacqueline Brogan offered to, as she put it at the time, redeem Stevens from charges of racism. Her primary challenge in the short version of her work that she presented that day was to comments registered by Adrienne Rich, but, replicating a tendency seen in Mott’s presentation, Brogan did not bother to look past Rich’s immediate commentary to the critical sources that Rich herself had identified. Even in the far more thoroughly documented version of her essay that appears as the final chapter of her book “The Violence Within/The Violence Without: Wallace Stevens and the Emergence of a Revolutionary Poetics,” despite the fact that it is published by the same press as the earlier critical work referenced by Rich, Brogan shows a remarkable disinclination to consult the broad corpus of extant critical work on race and discourse.
[As originally published in Joris & Tengour, Poems for the Millennium, volume 4: The University of California Book of North African Literature, 2012]
dirty and ugly they saw me there goes an empty head they said in fact I am more like an open book there’s much useful stuff inside this head * o my heart I burn you and if you want I will do more o my heart you shame me because you like who doesn't like you.
neither think nor search too much don’t always be despondent the planets are not fixed and life’s not eternal
don't play with your best friend's feelings & if people insult him, ease his mind who loves you, love him more but if he betrays you, don't ever be his friend again *
all I’ve had in life is one goat but I’ve written beautiful quatrains many are fulfilled through God’s favor yet claim those favors as their own labors
travel and you’ll get to know people and owe obedience to the noble the fathead with the pot-belly sell him for a dime
my heart’s between a hammer & an anvil & that damned blacksmith has no pity he keeps hammering & when it cools he kindles the fire with his bellows
•Perednik at PennSound includes links to two poem videos by Ernesto Livon-Grosman, a one hour radio show with Perednik, and Livon-Grosman's film with Jorge and me reading each other's poems; Jorge reads his translation of "Dear Mr. Fanelli" and I read Molly's translation.
My mother's father, Edward Kegel, was a Brooklyn real estate developer in the 1910s and '20s. He died of a streptococcus infection in 1927, when he was 39 and my mother. Sherry, was six. My grandmother, Birdie, who got married in 1916, never remarried. Both my mother's parents were born in Russia. My grandfather came to America when he was two. Birdie came here when she was seven, after her mother died, making the precarious journey from Russian to New York on her own. She joimed the step-family of her father, who had abandoned her and her mother when he made the journey to the New World.