Author: Christina Davis

Prufrockian Grooves: On Recording the Love Song of T. Stearns Eliot

“Prufrock” has always caused a little bit of trouble, and the Harvard Vocarium’s recording of the poem—one of the earliest in existence—is no exception. When you hear the recording (currently accompanying the centennial exhibit, “Ragged Claws: T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock at 100” at Houghton Library and at this evening’s event with Sir Christopher Ricks), you might be hard pressed to discern the procedural involutions and Transatlantic shuffling necessary to bring it into being. In many ways the trajectory of the recording recapitulated the evolution of the poem itself, which Eliot began to write at Harvard in 1909 and completed in England. In 1947, after delivering his Morris Gray lecture in May of that year (only his second trip to the United States after his long absence during the war), Eliot agreed to record a range of poems for the Harvard Vocarium record label, including “Journey of the Magi,” “Difficulties of a Statesman,” “Fragment of an Agon,” and “Prufrock.” Harvard Vocarium recording of T.S. Eliot reading “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1947-48), produced and distributed …

Announcing the Recipients of the 2015-2016 WPR Creative Fellowship & Grants

The Woodberry Poetry Room is pleased to announce that the recipient of the 2015-2016 WPR Creative Fellowship is Eileen Myles for her proposed project, “About Boston.” Myles will receive a stipend of $4,000 (generously funded by the Dr. Michael and Teresa Anagnostopoulos Fund and the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts) and plans to be present on campus throughout the month of April 2016. Due to the impressive range and number of applications, two additional projects were selected to receive WPR Creative Grants of $1,500, also funded by the Anagnostopoulos family. The 2015-2016 grant recipients are: Dan Beachy-Quick of Fort Collins, Colorado (for his project, “A Quiet Book”) and Chris Mustazza of Philadelphia (for his project, “The Birth of the Poetry Audio Archive: The Vocarium Recordings and The Speech Lab Recordings”). In conjunction with her proposed essay project, “About Boston,” Myles will consider “Boston as a site of poetry (poetry as ‘poetry’ and the poetry of everyday speech).” As a native Bostonian, Myles is particularly interested in exploring the Boston accent, in which Myles herself writes her poetry. During her …

March 12, 6:00pm: BE AGAIN: A Conversation & Film Screening with Fanny Howe

Join us for the first incarnation of the WPR Creative Fellowship, featuring films made by Fanny Howe in collaboration with Sheila Gallagher, John Gianvito, and Maceo Senna, and including voiceovers by Robert Creeley and Patrick Bedford. The event will integrate informal conversation with the screening of the following films: “Brigid of Murroe”; “What Nobody Saw”; and “Be Again.” Introduction by Keith Jones. The event will take place at the Barker Center. For more information, visit the WPR Calendar of Events. The WPR Creative Fellowships are made possible by a generous donation by the Anagnostopoulos Family and a gift made in honor of Teresa and Dr. Michael Anagnostopoulos. The featured photograph shows Fanny Howe and Sheila Gallagher during one of their collaborative sessions, working on one of the films in progress at Houghton Library.

Thursday, March 5th: “The Poetics of Graffiti” with Andrew Zawacki

Poet and translator Andrew Zawacki will read passages and screen images from his prose-photo hybrid project “Paris Photo Graff,” which uses Paris graffiti as an occasion to think associatively about alternative or subaltern poetics, black and white photography, the disappeared body, artistic commodification, and the construction and demolition of public space. The event will take place at the Woodberry Poetry Room, Lamont Library, Room 330, Harvard University. Zawacki is the author of four poetry books, most recently Videotape (Counterpath Press, 2013). His translation from the French of Sébastien Smirou, My Lorenzo, appeared from Burning Deck in 2012. His follow-up translation of Smirou, See About: Bestiary, was awarded an NEA Translation fellowship and is due next year from La Presse. The recipient of a fellowship at la Résidence internationale Ville de Paris / Institut Français aux Récollets, he is the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Georgia.  

“The Lip of the Flamingo”: Timothy Donnelly on Poetry & The Misuse of Language

This Thursday, February 26th at 6pm at Houghton Library, Timothy Donnelly (author of Hymn to Life and The Cloud Corporation) will discuss the rhetorical device known as catachresis–from the Greek katakhrēsthai, meaning ‘misuse’–as it appears in the work of Emily Dickinson (among others), its relation to the poetic generally, and flamingos. Due to the slew of cancelled readings this season, Donnelly has kindly agreed to read a brief selection of poems after his lecture. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Bagley Wright Lecture series and the Woodberry Poetry Room. NOTE: Book sales will be cash and check only.

A PRO-POUNDIAN BROADCAST: On a Recently Digitized Radio Program from 1955

Sixty years ago, on December 5, 1955, the Yale Broadcasting Company (WYBC) aired “A Tribute to Ezra Pound” on the occasion of the poet’s 70th birthday. Far from your average three-score-and-ten jubilee, the montage was an effort to garner support for the poet’s release from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital. In the mid-1950s, similar appeals were being made over the airwaves via the Canadian Broadcasting System and the Vatican Radio (see J. J. Wilhelm, Ezra Pound: The Tragic Years, 1925-1972). Pound’s publisher New Directions also printed  and adapted many of the comments from the WYBC broadcast in its pamphlet Ezra Pound at Seventy (1955), which was (according to John Cohassey) published to bring attention to Pound’s recent works and “to further the cause of the poet’s freedom” after almost a decade of incarceration. Pound was released from St. Elizabeth’s in April 1958. The irony of using a broadcast to advocate for someone who had been imprisoned for the content of his own radio broadcasts probably didn’t escape the participants, who included W.H. Auden, Ernest Hemingway, William Carlos Williams, Archibald MacLeish, Marianne Moore, Stephen Spender, Robert Penn Warren, …

HWAET: Or, Can You Hear Me in the Back?

Can you hear me? Some variation on this question opens at least 25% of the poetry readings I have listened to and/or attended—especially those in large auditoriums or cacophonous bars. But its repetition, far from rendering the question moot, has only made it the more curious to me. The question acknowledges the essential uncertainty that marks the outset of a reading and suggests that any communication of this kind “is first of all communication not of something” but of “communicability itself” (Giorgio Agamben). The uncertainty of whether one is being heard—one of the essential questions of transmission—immediately distinguishes the live reading from some of the primary securities of the printed page (or screen) and constitutes one of the first losses of authorial control over a poem, if indeed it can ever be said to have existed. (True, you could say that printed matter includes the uncertainty of whether it is being or is going to be read, but unless it is a handwritten or heavily marked-up manuscript or typescript, once the page is before the reader—in an age of standardized computer …

“FOR ONE BOSTON”: On View at the Poetry Room

From February 2 thru May 1, 2015, the Woodberry Poetry Room will present an informal mini-exhibit featuring a rotating series of selections from “For One Boston,” a collection of 132 works—by 149 artists, writers, designers and printers—published by Pressed Wafer in collaboration with Granary Books to benefit those injured in the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings. On view this month is a selection of eight items—including poems, essays, epigrams, photographs, paintings & a signed Red Sox card—contributed by Jim Behrle, Don DeLillo, Susan Heideman, Fanny Howe, Vincent Katz, Colleen McCallion, Kayla Mohammadi, Jennifer Tseng & C.D. Wright. The deeply compelling, poignant and provocative materials that converge in the “One for Boston” box reflect a dynamic range of responses, what one of its contributors, Fanny Howe, calls “a collision of histories, local and global. The papers fly, the paintings and signatures mark the trails from Boston to Dagestan.” Of her contribution, “Prayer for Someone,” poet Jennifer Tseng reflects: “I wrote this poem expressly for the box. It took me a long time. […] I began with the impulse to honor the victims; I wanted …