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 fellowship, she plans to listen to all of the Boston-born poets in the Woodberry Poetry Room’s audio collection (including John Wieners and Stephen Jonas), to read widely from those same poets in the Poetry Room’s archives, and to immerse herself in the contemporary Boston poetry scene. At the end of her residency, she will present her work-in-progress at the Carpenter Center of Visual Arts, which is jointly sponsoring her fellowship.
To celebrate her homecoming, Myles has kindly given the Poetry Room permission to print her poem, “SHHH,” from her forthcoming I Must Be Living Twice: Selected Poems (Ecco, September 2015):
I don’t think
I can’t afford the time to not sit right down &
write a poem about the heavy lidded
white rose I hold in my hand
I think of snow
a winter night in Boston, drunken waitress
stumble on a bus that careens through
Somerville the end of the line
where I was born, an old man
shaking me. He could’ve been my dad.
You need a ride? Wait, he said.
This flower is so heavy in my hand.
He drove me home in his old blue
Dodge, a thermos next to me,
cigarette packs on the dash
so quiet like Boston is quiet
Boston in the snow. It’s New York
plates are clattering on St. Mark’s
Place. Should I call you?
Can I go home now
& work with this undelivered
message in my fingertips
I love you.
I’m surrounded by snow.
WPR Creative Grant recipient Chris Mustazza (an incoming doctoral student in English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania and technical adviser to Penn Sound) will focus his research on two concurrently emerging poetry audio archives in the early 20th century:
“The birth of the poetry audio archive occurred in the early 1930s, with two contemporaneous though altogether separate initiatives: Columbia University’s Speech Lab Recordings/ Contemporary Poets Series and Harvard University’s Vocarium Recordings. These series, which together include poets like T. S. Eliot, Vachel Lindsay, James Weldon Johnson, Marianne Moore, and Gertrude Stein, are of great importance to the study of phonotextuality and the sonic facets of poetry. This project will place the two collections in dialogue, examining their aesthetic and editorial differences and convergences in an audio exhibition and discussion at the Woodberry Poetry Room.”
During his WPR Creative Grant period, Dan Beachy-Quick will focus on his manuscript-in-progress, “A Quiet Book,” which explores the nature of silence as a textual phenomenon, an auditory experience, and a philosophical concept. “The idea of an expressive silence has dovetailed into many other areas of concern for me, ranging from the spiritual nature of the letter aleph, to the lethe hidden within the Greek word for truth, alethia; from the secret center of the labyrinth in which the Minotaur dwells, to the labyrinth of language that Wittgenstein find us all within. I’ve become fascinated—poetically, philosophically, and personally—with the ways in which we bear silence, forgetting, oblivion, confusion within the very medium that should deny or relieve us from those very states: sound, speech, song, syntax, diction, and so on.”
Beachy-Quick’s goals for the residency include an immersion in the audio archive and corresponding manuscripts and typescripts at Houghton Library: “In the slight dissonance between voice as primary and text as fundamental, I feel a strange, troubling quiet build.”
The next deadline for the WPR Creative Fellowship will be in mid-January 2016. Please visit the Poetry Room’s website next Fall for a link to the 2016-2017 application.