Commentaries - February 2015

Tom Devaney teaches Williams's 'The Last Words of My English Grandmother' to high-school students

I invited Tom Devaney to teach a poem to a group of high-school juniors back in 2010. He brought with him William Carlos Williams's poem “The Last Words of My English Grandmother” because, as he told the students, he likes to hear voices in a poem and also likes to quote his own grandmother in his poems. The first nine minutes of the video are taken up with preliminaries, so if you want to skip to the discussion, move the time dial to 8:50. To watch the video, click here or anywhere on the image above. Click here to visit the PennSound page that includes all twelve of these videos — two sets of six poets each teaching one poem to high school students.

Emily Carr: Three new poems

She might be an American-born poet who lives and teaches in the United States, but I first became aware of Emily Carr during her time at the University of Calgary, so can’t help think of her, somehow, as a Canadian poet (these designations are so often arbitrary and rather fluid). She has been a finalist in seven national poetry competitions, most recently the National Poetry Series, and is the author of two trade collections — Directions for Flying, 36 fits: a young wife’s almanac (Furniture Press, 2010) and 13 ways of happily (Parlor Press, 2011) — as well as a number of poetry chapbooks, including & look there goes a sparrow transplanting soil (above/ground press, 2009) (reprinted in full in the anthology Ground rules: the best of the second decade of above/ground press 2003-2013), UP THE SHINBONE SUPERLATIVES (Horse Less Press, 2012), Resurrection Refrains: 22 Tarot Lyrics in the Form of the Yellow Brick Road (Dancing Girl Press, 2013) and STAY THIS MOMENT: THE AUTOPSY LYRICS, ACTS 1 & 2 (Little Red Leaves, 2013).

Bernstein in Warsaw: Video of lecture at American Studies Center, University of Warsaw

American Studies Center, University of Warsaw: “The Pitch of Poetry: Moral Perfectionism, Occupy Wall Street, and the Poetics of Holocaust Representation” 
(27 November 2014)
from Pitch of Poetry (University of Chicago Press, 2016)

PennSound archival link

Stitches in excess: Embroidery as model for social thought and art

As a writer who stitches, I am particularly interested in the models for social thought and art provided by a certain textile practice: embroidery. I think it can help us think through 1) the extra-citizen or supra-citizen and, 2) art itself. 

First: the extra-citizen—one who contributes to the making of a place but who may not officially belong (for example, the guest worker in the UAE) or even if citizen, whose very being is frequently under question, attack, or who must exist in negotiation with violent official forces (for example, the young black man in USAmerica in relation with the police).

Michael Palmer: New poems from 'The Laughter of the Sphinx,' for Mac Low, Tcherepnin, & Artaud



Mineral light and whale light,

light of memory, light of the eye,

memory’s eye, shaded amber light

coating the page, fretted

light of anarchy, flare of bent

time, firelight and first light,

lake light and forest light,