Month: February 2015

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.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at Gerrit Lansing

Due to the unprecedented weather conditions in Cambridge, we have decided to postpone Gerrit Lansing’s previously scheduled event tomorrow. But, lest we let the snow get the last word, we wanted to share with you the introduction that Ruth Lepson had planned to give at the event, by way of celebration. 1. His family were early settlers around Albany; a village nearby, Lansingburgh, was named after them, a town where, I might add, Melville lived, studied briefly, and courted a girl. 2. Gerrit himself grew up in the township of Bainbridge, Ohio, on a farm, where he was in charge of the chickens. 3. He came across Jung at Harvard, and later in New York met the secretary of the Bollingen Foundation, which published Jung. In the summer following that meeting, he took a train from Rome to southern Switzerland, where he attended the Eranos meetings (eranos meaning ‘love feast’) on symbolical, archetypal and mythological themes, and continued to go to the Bollingen in NY while he was working at Columbia in the publications department. 4. He’s delved into alchemy; his poetry is a …

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 or received—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 …