Adapted, with permission, from a recent letter by Omid Shams, which first alerted me to this work. Omid Shams is an Iranian poet, translator, and scholar living in Aarhus, Denmark. —Ch.B.
Iranian modern literature, specifically poetry, has always been connected to the revolutionary politics. However, such a connection can be traced mostly in the content and theme rather than the form and language; or, as the opposite of what Bruce Andrews said, it has been the entry of politics into the poetry. Such an approach toward the political poetry created a literary mainstream that turned the main body of literature into a batch of sociopolitical slogans.
Last week in TheNew York Times, Shelley Podolny considered the growing amount of computer-generated text that appears online. With the dystopian title "If an Algorithm Wrote This, How Would You Even Know?" Podolny describes a study by media scholar Christer Clerwell that suggests readers may not be able to distinguish between computer- or human-generated text. Such a phenomenon speaks to growing sophistication of natural language processing software and finely-tuned algorithms that can produce humanoid content.
Well before I’ve clicked the audio file, the reading begins with the email invitation to (re)produce a “first reading” of a “spoken word” performance by Cecil Taylor. His name rings jazz bells, so I’m reading my mind, too. As a student of jazz vocals in Manhattan, I sat in with Reggie Workman, but didn’t feel free enough to accept the invitation to join his ensemble.
When I began asking about poetry in Detroit, everyone told me to go talk to M. L. Liebler. M. L. is a poet, teacher, and arts organizer who has written and edited over 13 books. He teaches at Wayne State University, where he also edits the Made in Michigan series, which is dedicated to publishing creative work by Michigan authors. His recent edited collection, Working Words: Punching The Clock and Kicking Out the Jams, is the first anthology I’ve seen that brings together Amiri Baraka, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Diane Wakoski, Eminem, and Brett Lott. They all have something to say about working-class life.
In 1968, the year after Debord’s Society of the Spectacle appeared in print, a geographer by the name of William Bunge co-founded The Detroit Geographical Expedition and Institute with Gwendolyn Warren and, along with a group of young “ghetto residents” (Wood 166), undertook a series of experiments in radical cartography. Just as Dadaist, Surrealist, and Situationist artists had begun to experiment with maps, cartographers began to borrow from art in ways that both subtended and expanded the possibility of map-making.