Friday, November 21, 2014

Junot Diaz Talk - September 16, 2010, George Washington University

n.b. I'm working on migrating my notes from various lectures I attended through the years from FB onto my blog (4 of 5).


Writers get too much advice. There are whole shelves of advice for writers. Everybody wants to write and nobody wants to read. It's like young people--young people don't need advice, they need support.


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Jonathan Franzen, National Cathedral, 2/18/2011

n.b. I'm working on migrating my notes from various lectures I attended through the years from FB onto my blog (3 of 5).


I really really wanted to write about competition between women in this book [Freedom]. We live in this country that celebrates competition. It's at the heart of our economic system and yet nobody wants to talk about it. There's this unbridled celebration of business competition, and yet when it's some other country [competing with the U.S.] the breaks get put on in a hurry. ... I was particularly fascinated by the phenomenon of competition between women. How it's absolutely taboo. It's [considered] bad to be competitive [as a woman].

There are certain basic facts that political rhetoric in this country wants to deny. [Literature is an avenue through which to address those facts.] So much of literature is about failure. The ways we all fail, really.


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Summer 2011

n.b. I'm working on migrating my notes from various lectures I attended through the years from FB onto my blog (2 of 5).


Craft Talks
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*Brenda Hillman* Bouquet of I's

A sampling of different kinds of I's

1. Dream-time of surreal I (Dickinson's "I heard I fly buzz / when I died")
     Dickinson: "It's kind of a translation of the self into another state. We can all try this with our deepest visionary self."
"A particularly visionary quality you can only get from your dream self. You are there a lot as a poet."
Harryette Mullen's "Muse and Drudge: "What she IS switches every line." "I'm more human than human, I'm deeper human than human."
Paul Celan: takes you deeper into an image that is pretty general; it's a kind of loneliness; absolute isolation. Pierre Joris trans. 1995, Washburn trans.

2. Large self-mythologizing (Whitman's "I am large, I contain multitudes", Creeley's "I know a man")

Tomas Transtromer, "Guard Duty": "I am the turnstile."


Monday, November 17, 2014

Brenda Hillman, University of Chicago POEM PRESENT Talk, Poetry and Politics, 4/27/2012

n.b. I'm working on migrating my notes from various lectures I attended through the years from FB onto my blog. This 1 of 5.



The question of if all poetry is political. Question ends up involving the question of whether you think you have a certain audience. In a certain context any poem is less political. Also has to do w/ what the author announces as their mision. e.g., Whitman's Preface to Leaves of Grass (after Wordsworth). Or Breton's Surrealist Manifesto, with its stated goal to "derange," dovetails with socialist manifestos of the contemporary left. Similarly, tracking the unraveling o the authorial voice as a literary task that has a political agenda in 20/21st c. poetry: Language Poetry, Oulipo. Structure having no relation to topic. Stein, Wittgenstein.
Eugene Ostashevsky (Russian-born Am. poet).
Goal of deranging the ref of the poem so that they could have an encoded relationship to the Stalinist authority.

The Romantics
"I love every single one of them. I love every single thing they ever wrote."
"I think that they Romantics are the base of every inclination in American Poetry because freedom was at the base of everything they did" (freedom of form, freedom of topic, etc. "It's hard to have a parent that lets you do everything you want. But you can find everything you need in that permission."
Shelley's "A Defence of Poetry"


Monday, September 1, 2014

No Category

I can't figure out what category of my blog in which to put this piece I did for the July issue of Unsplendid, which is a giant and awesome (with a capital G) double issue on Women and Form. It's in the prose section, which is definitely what I submitted it as, but sometime since I submitted it, I started thinking of it as a poem. Not that those two things are mutually exclusive...and yet, it's not a prose poem.

Whatever it is, it's called, "Hell if Form[less]: A Treatise on Form in Exactly 500 Words Under the Influence of Susan Howe." It's part of some writing and thinking I've been doing about the Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson, the first-person account of a 17th century Puritan woman who was kidnapped and held for 11 weeks by Indians (it seems unclear which tribe). Before they take her captive, they burn down the house she lived in, with some of her children in it.

It's a super foundational text in Early American Lit, and a lot of poets have responded to Mary Rowlandson--including Sherman Alexie, Susan Howe, and Louise Erdrich. None of those poets seem interested in what stands out to me about Mary Rowlandson's narrative: All the freaky formal choices she makes! Her captivity narrative is structured in this weird way: instead of chapters there are twenty "removes," as in, each remove her captors took her away from her home. 20 Removes? Where did that idea come from? And the narrative is strewn with Bible quotes, almost like the way contemporary poets throw in seemingly random pieces of overheard language or song lyrics--like the poetry version Bakhtin's "speech of another" in the novel.

Anyway, I just keep thinking, she was an author; she intended, she was alive.