Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Ex-pat seminar blurb in The Globe

From Jan Gardner's 8/7/11 "Word on the Street" post for the Globe:
Transported by books

Edith Wharton’s “In Morocco,’’ about her journey just after World War I, is a classic of travel literature. Henry James in “Italian Hours’’ wrote about his enchantment with the country that became the setting for some of his best-known novels. And the music composed by Paul Bowles was deeply influenced by his visits to exotic locales.

Travel transformed the 19th- and 20th-century American expatriates whose writings are being explored in a series of seminars under way at Boston University’s Mugar Library, 771 Commonwealth Ave. These are bargain armchair adventures. The Boston Poetry Union is charging $5 for each two-hour class taught by Christopher M. Ohge, a doctoral candidate at BU. No prior knowledge is assumed, and no preparation is expected, although reading packets are available for each session.

This is the third summer the union has held a seminar series, according to organizer Zachary Bos. Registrants include an astronomer, a bartender, and a psychotherapist as well as graduate students in literature.

At each session, Ohge will talk about the themes of that evening’s texts before leading a group discussion focused on a close reading of them. Each seminar stands on its own.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Writers’ Block reading with Jay Walker and Charles Perry Jr.

Sunday, August 7th, 2011 , 1–3 PM, at Gallery X (lower level), 169 William Street, New Bedford, Mass. Part of the Writers’ Block reading series. Sign-up begins promptly at 12:30 PM.
BYO beverages.

About the featured readers:
Jay Walker has a penchant for wearing Hawaiian shirts & also for removing them. Since the law prohibits physical nudity, Jay bares his soul through his work, looking to heal himself & others through sharing feelings & experiences. The author of two published collections, as well as CDs, he's a former alternate for the AS220 Slam team, the most recent addition to the staff at GotPoetry! Live, the interim Slam master at the MondaySLAM @ The Spot Underground, the Poetry Coordinator for the SENE Film, Music & Arts Festival & the founder of Jaybird St. Productions (planning live & recorded projects & events), all when he's not running the Providence 48 Hour Film Project for the RI Film Collaborative or acting in local film & stage productions himself ... yeah, he's busy. Cape Verdean by descent, American by birth, a citizen of Earth by choice & Darth Vader by proxy (his son really is Luke Sky).

Charles Perry, Jr. aka "A Poetic Pulse", is a veteran member of the New Bedford Police Department, having served since 1988. As a self-published author, his collectinos include A Poetic Pulse, A Poetic Pulse 2, Good, Bad & Lovely, The Song of the Sea, Heart and Soul, Poetry Pulses, Thinking & Writing, The Passion for Poetry, and A Daily Dose.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Reading with Wright and McNair

This Sunday, August 7th, at 4 PM, poetry lovers will fill the East Lawn at the Longfellow House, as numerous (and probably as tousle-headed) as any crop of dandelions, to hear Wesley McNair -- author of Lovers of the Lost -- and Franz Wright -- author of Walking to Martha's Vineyard, and of a prose work to appear in the forthcoming third issue of The Charles River Journal -- read new works. Hosted by the New England Poetry Club.

Where? 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge -- just a few blocks from the heart of Harvard Square.

National Poetry Slam in Cambridge

The 2011 National Poetry Slam is coming to New England! The organizers are looking for volunteers to us welcome the hundreds of participating poets traveling from all over the world to converge on Cambridge, Mass. next week, from August 8th through August 13th. Contact the staff through their website or via email to offer your help.

Not Enough Books in Your Bag?

Robert Archambeau recently asked Facebook what word we might use for the particular species of anxiety felt when you're packing for a trip and you fear you're not bringing enough books. He writes,
I know guys who, even though they know they won't read them, bring 8 or 10 books for a weekend trip. I ask because I just put two books & a Kindle into my bike's saddlebag, in case I feel like pulling over and reading on a bench for a while. I need to know the name of the disease from which I suffer!
In response, one David Sanders suggested "biblialgia", while Lina Ramona Vitkauskas observed that this is just a symptom of that disease called "intelligence".

Can you do better? Post a comment below, if you will. I'll make sure RA is alerted to any progress we make. I did send this over to Word Fugitives at The Atlantic, but have heard nothing yet -- though I'm not surprised to think her backlog is miles deep, what with the current mania for neologism and lexical recasting.

Tuesday Poem: "The Wild Bees"

Over at the Tuesday Poem blog, we see a lovely poem by John Griffin. As explains this week's TP curator, "The Wild Bees" is "really a kind of love poem, an offering of soma or salve, a nectar meant to soothe the pain of a writer (a writer-goddess in this case) to whom, or perhaps with whom, the poet is responding." A stanza taste:
Veined wings made of water lift water’s weight
and flap water’s freight improbably into flight
where it hovers now before the portals of pollen
and fans antigens, powder down and dander
with such a busy buzz the glassine scales intensify
the air, evaporate the dew and vaporize your tears.
Online at the Tuesday Poem blog.

An award for service to literature

Who do you know whose teaching, publishing, editing, and advocacy on behalf of literature deserves special recognition? The Association of Writers & Writing Programs invites letters from any members (I know many of you are such) who wish to nominate candidates for the George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature. Letters of nominations must be postmarked before September 15th. The 2011 winner was Askold Melnyczuk, of the UMass-Boston faculty. We stare pointedly in the direction of Don Share, Bill Corbett, Mary McCallum...

Reading with Golaski, Ipsen and Charbonneau

Timothy Gager hosts another session of the Dire Literary Series, on Friday, August 5, at 8 PM at the Out of the Blue Art Gallery, 106 Prospect Street, Cambridge. An open mic will follow the featured readers:

Adam Golaski is the author of Worse Than Myself (Raw Dog Screaming Press, 2008). He is a founder of Flim Forum, a press publishing books of contemporary experimental poetry, and is the editor of New Genre, a literary journal for new and experimental horror and science fiction.

Anne Ipsen has written two memoirs about her childhood in Denmark and teenage years in Boston. Her historical novel "At the Concord of the Rivers," about the Puritans in 1692, was just published in 2011. She lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

Ray Charbonneau is the author of Chasing the Runner's High: My Sixty Million-Step Program.


If you care to go with a group, RSVP at the Boston Poetry meetup event page.

Boston Review Short Story Contest

Recently rededicated to the memory of the late author and critic Aura Estrada, and judged in its first year by her husband, Francisco Goldman, the Aura Estrada Short Story Contest is now accepting submissions for 2011. This year’s judge is acclaimed novelist and
critic Samuel R. Delany.

The winning author will receive $1,500 and have his or her work published in Boston Review, the summer of 2012. First runner-up will be published in a following issue, and second runner-up will be published at the Boston Review Web site. Stories should not exceed 4,000 words and must be previously unpublished. Mailed manuscripts should be double-spaced and submitted with a cover note listing the author’s name, address, and phone number. No cover note is necessary for online submission. Names should not appear on the stories themselves. Any author writing in English is eligible, unless he or she is a current student, former student, relative, or close personal friend of the judge. Simultaneous submissions are not permitted, submissions will not be returned, and submissions may not be modified after entry. A non-refundable $20 entry fee, payable to Boston Review in the form of a check or money order or by credit card, must accompany each story entered. All submitters receive a complementary half-year subscription (3 issues) to Boston Review. Submissions must be postmarked no later than October 1, 2011. Manuscripts will not be returned. The winner will be announced no later than May/June 2012, on the Boston Review Web site.

Enter using the online contest entry manager, which requires payment using a credit card. Or mail submissions to Short Story Contest, Boston Review, PO Box 425786, Cambridge, MA 02142.

August 16th reading with Collins, Johnson, and Sasanov

The First and Last Word Poetry Series, curated by Harris Gardner and Gloria Mindock, is hosting a reading on August 16th -- 6:30 PM., at The Center for the Arts at the Armory, 191 Highland Avenue, Somerville, Mass. Admission: $4. There will be an open mic, following the featured readers:

Martha Collins is the author of the book-length poem Blue Front (Graywolf, 2006), which won an Anisfield-Wolf Award, as well as four earlier collections of poems and two collections of co-translated Vietnamese poetry. Other awards include NEA, Bunting, Merrill, Witter Bynner, and Lannan Foundation grants. Two new collections of poems are forthcoming: White Papers (Pittsburgh,2012) and Day Unto Day (Milkweed, 2014). Collins is currently editor-at-large for FIELD magazine.

Robert K. Johnson was born in New York City and later lived on Long Island. He obtained a B.A. from Hofstra College (now University); and earned graduate degrees from Cornell University and Denver University. Now retired, he was a university professor of English, mostly at Suffolk University in Boston, for many years. He is currently submissions editor of Ibbetson Street. Many of his poems have appeared individually in a wide variety of magazines and newspapers. Five full-length collections of his poetry, the most recent being From Mist To Shadow, have been published, plus two chapbooks.

Catherine Sasanov's Had Slaves (Sentence Book Award, Firewheel Editions) was recently named a 2011 Must Read by the Massachusetts Center for the Book. She is also the author of Traditions of Bread and Violence, All the Blood Tethers, and the theater work, Las Horas de Belen: A Book of Hours, commissioned by Mabou Mines. Her current work, funded in part by the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, explores what rushes in to fill the void when evidence of slavery's past has been eradicated from the landscapes on which it once thrived.

The Center for the Arts is located between Davis Square and Union Square. Parking is located behind the armory at the rear of the building. Arts at the Armory is approximately a 15 minute walk from Davis Square which is on the MTBA Red Line. To get there by bus, take either the 88 or the 90, from Lechmere or Davis Square. Get off at the Highland Avenue and Lowell Street stop. The Center is also close to Sullivan Square (Orange Line), accessible by the 90 bus at the Highland Avenue and Benton Road stop.

This event has been added to the Boston Poetry meetup calendar. If you wish to "go with a group", you can RSVP at the BP event page.

Tabatabai: "Adam to Eve in Old Age"

The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand with wand’ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
– Milton, Paradise Lost
Dear Eve,

Many moons have passed
since that first day
we left the garden
with our heads hung low
and our shadows cast.

Remember how hot it was?
how thirsty we were,
how far we walked to find water and shade.

Remember that first night?
how dark it was,
how scared we were,
how naked we felt in our leaves.

And that first winter?
with its reluctant sun
and thickening night,
how we hugged to keep each other warm.

Many winters have passed and with each
I’m getting slower, and smaller.

We’ve been through much,
and I know it wasn’t easy for you.
I still regret the way I treated you
when he yelled at us
for eating his fruit.

I knew you needed
my sympathy and support
but I called you stupid
and you cried.

I wish I had held you instead
and kissed your head and told you
it would all be fine.
I wish I could have stood up to him.
I wish we had taken a whole basket of that fruit.

I remember the first time
your belly swelled.
I was nervous because
you screamed and screamed
and I thought I would lose you
and be alone,
but a child was born.
And he drank from your breast
and he clung to your skirt
and we learned life.

I know it was hard
when we lost Abel,
and we lost Cain,
and we learned death.

For the longest time
you wouldn’t eat, or talk, or touch.

But we’ve had good times too.

Remember that first spring?
the way it smelled,
the way we felt,
as if we’d never left
that long-forgotten place.

Remember the time we drank
from the vine we grew
on the trellis in the back?
You laughed because my eyes turned red
and my teeth turned blue.

That was the night I discovered you,
the night I smelled you and tasted you.
I realized how you squint when I kiss you,
and blush when I watch you.

That night I found your nape
and the curves of your waist,
and those two dimples
low on your back.

And you showed me the things a woman can do.

It has ceased to be that way
with me and you
for a long time now—I know.
But when I look at you,
with your gray hair and wrinkled smile,
I still see that wide-eyed girl
trying to cover herself with leaves.

As we reach the autumn of our lives
there is nothing I want more
than to sit by your side
and hold your hand
and listen to your voice.

My beautiful Eve,
my love, my life,
I thank you for giving meaning
to my mortality.


From the collection Uzunburun, Pen & Anvil 2011.

Eve's Fall, updated

Speaking of vipers, and of updating old books into new systems. Pamela Garvey's poem "Eve’s Fall Through Technology" was a Tuesday Poem feature on 3 Quarks Daily. Here's Section 3, "The Fax":
Enclosed is my confession. Read it over, sign, date, and send back ASAP.

The serpent wound up
my inner thigh.
Risk-taking was my halo,
paradise calibrated.
He tore the seam between us.
I know you are hungry. I know
you are lost. My days
are a frayed immersion.
I peel and core and slice
apple after apple
to taste their rot.
We owe so much to old Eve, taking it on the chin for so many ruined generations. Many thanks to Shanna Slank for turning our eye to this poem.


Sassan Tabatabai -- like Keith Botsford, a contributor to The Charles River Journal -- himself has a well-tuned poem returning to this Biblical trope, "Adam to Eve in Old Age". This poem will appear in his first poetry collection, Uzunburun, will be available this September from Pen & Anvil.

The 'literary turn' and accounting

One of the most sustained explorations of the linguistic and literary turns in accounting is that of Macintosh. One stream of Macintosh's work encompasses exploration of areas of French critical thought that overlap with literary theory: Macintosh and Shearer (2000) take a Baudrillardian semiotic analysis of a contemporary society dominated by a proliferation of non-referential signs (Baudrillard, 1981) to indicate accounting's increasing loss of referent and related audit simulacra; Macintosh et al. (2000) draw further on Baudrillardian concepts of simulacra, hyperreality and implosion (Baudrillard, 1981) to trace the historical transformation of accounting signs from Sumerian times to the present; Macintosh (2002) provides the most wide-ranging introduction of French critical thought to accounting, outlining the impact of Saussurean linguistics on structuralism and semiotics, but primarily focused on six critical theorists and philosophers who might be termed structuralist and post-structuralist: Bakhtin, Barthes, Baudrillard, Derrida, Foucault and Nietzsche.
-- from "Paratextual framing of the annual report: Liminal literary conventions and visual devices", an article by Jane Davison of the University of London's School of Management, as appears in Critical Perspectives on Accounting, V. 22, No.2 (2011)

Image at top: "The eye without eyes, the hundred-headless woman keeps her secret", a collage by Max Ernst from La Femme 100 Têtes, 1929.

From CRJ: "Gaucho Sunrise"

Speaking of literary travels in South America, that above-mentioned issue of The Charles River Journal, awakening from hiatus, will include an excerpt, "Gaucho Sunset", from Wonder/Wander, a literary scrapbook of poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction prose, telling the story of the people and places author Aaron Devine encountered during 522 days and working in communities off the tourist trail in Latin America.

Annual Whittier Reading

The Whittier Home Museum is sponsoring its 13th annual collaborative readings from the poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier on Sunday, August 7 from 3-4:30 p.m. The poetry readings will take place in the garden of the Whittier Home Museum, 86 Friend Street, Amesbury, Massachusetts.

Readers: Cynthia Costello, president of the Whittier Home Museum; Walter Howard, who will sing his selection; Harris Gardner, coordinator of the Tapestry of Voices series; Gus Reusch, curator at the Whittier Birthplace in Haverhill; Lainie Senechal; Skye Wentworth; Toni Treadway; Bob Brodsky; Les Weiner; and Kristine N. Malpica.

Light refreshments will follow the readings. In case of inclement weather, the program will be held in the Whittier Home’s meeting room. For more information, call the Whittier Home at 978-388-1337 .

NB: This reading has been added to the Boston Poetry meetup calendar; if you care to RSVP and 'go with the group', you can do so at the event page.

Henry James and The American Idea

Apropos to the discussion in last week's seminar in American expat literature is essay recommendation from Arts & Letters Daily:
Founded in 1857 to advance the “American idea,” The Atlantic Monthly was an odd intellectual home for Henry James, a peripatetic expat who renounced his U.S. citizenship... [Links to Humanities Magazine]

Bishop, Botsford, Lowell, Borges

The volume Words in Air -- comprising 30 years of letters between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell -- was published last year. Several copies circulated among a crowd of us here in Boston, and we fought rather fiercely to extend our turn, to pick through their exchange of mutual esteem, respective exasperations, and reports from "the proper table-land of poetry". A fun way to pass the time, if you can't get your hands on a copy, is to enter queries like "wobbling" and "horrid" into the search feature for text of Words in Air available at Google Books.

One letter of pointed interest to me is found on page 414:
Keith is now coming to see me about some prose translations of you. [...] He comes through Rio traffic wobbling on a bicycle -- with his large wobbling pipe leading.
This is Keith Botsford she's writing about, he of long-time magazine collaboration in oft-varying proportions with Saul Bellow, who used to have a group of us young turks (pictured below) over to his house perched atop Savin Hill in Boston overlooking Dorchester Bay. We'd goggle at his multilingual library and receive orders on proofing mss or reviewing submissions for News from the Republic of Letters, and he'd make us strong coffee in tiny cups, and a nice lunch besides. For many years, he gave access to a view on world literature, and on kulchur, that I don't know we would have groped our way toward otherwise.

We reprinted in the most previous issue of The Charles River Journal (#2, published before the intervening long hiatus to be broken with the appearance of #3 this September), a journal of a trip he took with Robert Lowell through South America -- Brazil, Argentina. It begins:
Swooping down on Belem do Para. Bethlehem. Mouth of the Amazon. Ten at night, the Lowells due at midnight: hence the poet’s full moon turned out for us, and the river bright as tinfoil. We see it, distorted by the double-pained windows of our DC-6. Then we don’t see it. We have to punch through a storm, shaped like a trompe, which the OED calls a water blowing-engine (French has it as a musical instrument, the horn for instance): black turbulent air. Glimpses, as we buck about, of black-green forest below. We boil in our belts, then we get sleet: I can see it bouncing off the wings into the ocean, and I can see the pattern of the delta disemboguing, great semi-circular swatches of sand under shallow water. Then we circle around the forest again. Wet smoke rises from the forest, each wisp isolated by mile after mile of darkness.
(Anyone who'd like to read the full piece may request a PDF copy of that issue.)

Lowell, elsewhere in Words in Air, admits he gave KB "a hard run" on that tour. At one point, he apparently declared himself Caesar of the Amazon... one hopes there are photos. Later on the trip, they met with Borges in Buenos Aires. A 1962 issue of The Kenyon Review ran Botsford's piece, "About Borges and Not About Borges", a chimeric text based -- KB writes -- on "Dialogues of every kind. Some between the two of us, recorded on tape; some just noted; some that took place in my imagination; and some that are beyond both of us, whose relation to Borges is that they exist because Borges exists, and would not if he did not."

From that text, here is Borges speaking for the tape recorder:
I Americans are realistic in the Norse manner, which is a pity: people more easily forgive other kinds of imperialism. There is a glamor about fighting, about armies, whereas commercial feelings are hard to understand. The Americans have beaten everybody and seem hardly interested in the fact. Perhaps the only American war they remember is the War between the States, and that is remembered because the South lost. People don't admire them for their hesitations. But perhaps you've got to be romantic; everyone sympathizes with the Trojans, and no one with the Greeks. There's something quite vulgar about victory, something dignified and pathetic about defeat. I think Kipling is a very great writer, and he's been run down simply because he bragged, in a very un-English way, about the empire. Or take the Germans. They can be wonderful soldiers, but they have to be bolstered up by some theory. They have to think of themselves as Teutons, or as characters out of Tacitus, or as Norsemen.
You can find the full piece online. If you lack access to JSTOR, you might email me and ask to borrow my hardcopy; I am glad to sent it 'round.

From the archives: The Boston section of the TRoL staff, c. 2002 .

Bishop Centenary at Vassar

POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK: A major exhibit and symposium organized by the Vassar College Libraries will mark the centenary of poet Elizabeth Bishop, a 1934 Vassar graduate who earned the Pulitzer Prize and many other major U.S. literary honors before her death in 1979. Central to these upcoming events are the unmatched Elizabeth Bishop Papers housed at the college’s Archives and Special Collections Library.

For the exhibit, "From the Archive: Discovering Elizabeth Bishop", running August 30 through December 15, 2011, in Thompson Memorial Library, curator Ronald Patkus, asked ten Elizabeth Bishop scholars and editors to select items from Vassar’s Bishop collection that were important to their writing about the poet. These artifacts include a composition book that Bishop used in 1934 right after graduating from college and early drafts of the poems "12 O’Clock News" and "Homesickness".

At the September 24th symposium in Taylor Hall, Thomas Travisano will moderate a morning discussion “On Editing Bishop,” with panelists Alice Quinn, Lloyd Schwartz, Saskia Hamilton, and Joelle Biele. Barbara Page will moderate an afternoon discussion “On Teaching Bishop” with panelists Beth Spires, Lorrie Goldensohn, and Jane Shore. The symposium culminates with a keynote address by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who will also read his new poem dedicated to Vassar’s sesquicentennial and commissioned by the college for the occasion.

For more information, contact jekosmacher@vassar.edu.


Another reading in honor of the Bishop centenary will take place in Worcester, Massachusetts, on August 13th, and will feature Robert Pinsky and Charles Simic. For more details about this and other events, visit the EB100 blog.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A campaign to save East Coker

Sandra Snelling of the East Coker Preservation Trust writes:

The Somerset village of East Coker, where T. S. Eliot is interred, is shortly going to be swamped by 3,750 new houses and an industrial estate. The plan is being pushed through by a Liberal Democrat councilor on the South Somerset Council who admits his ignorance of its cultural significance, adding "I don't like poetry" and "You may well personally hold that a dead poet's tomb is a national monument, and that the setting extends for miles around, but as I understand it Elliott only had a passing link with the village, being the family home rather than his chosen place of regular abode. He was so overwhelmed with East Coker that he mentioned it in a poem once."

If the council does not very soon feel a groundswell of opposition from those who appreciate the beauty and literary importance of the village, this scheme will be unstoppable. Please will you help us to prevent that, by sending an email to the members of the council whose addresses appear below -- and by sending this appeal on to any of your friends who might also like to help? The East Coker Preservation Trust will be happy to provide any more information you need. It will be much appreciated if you feel able to write.

The campaign online: Facebook | Website | Blog | Twitter | YouTube

Members of the South Somerset District Council, and other gov't. contacts:

Photos -- "showing what is at stake" -- courtesy Jim McCue.