Friday, March 09, 2007


Here are my random thoughts and recollections of the melee known as AWP:

I agree with Kasey that it's fun but that it would be more fun/interesting if certain aspects of it was removed and certain aspects enhanced. I like the panels but I wish there were more panels of interest. I think our panel on "Strategies of Excess" (Lara, Kasey, Anne, me and Jed - Josh Corey was stuck in Detroit) was very interesting. As was Susan Schultz's and Ralph Berry's politics and literature panel. Susan wrote about why poets are so intrigued by Rumsfield - it's because he's got a poet's way of thinking about language. Ralph wrote about the idea that the war would have been avoided if we had only known the right facts. Everything these days in politics seems to boil down to this strange treatment of facts - as if it wasn't an ideological decision to go to war (or to not do anything about Global Warming etc).

In Sandra Simmond's interlingualism panel, David Lau discussed Terry Eagleton's critique of Adorno's reading of Beckett (the ditch isn't metaphysical, Beckett actually spent a night in a ditch during WWII working for the resistance). I only had five minutes left to talk, which was OK because I was totally exhausted at that point anyway. I just talked about a report Josh Wilkinson had given me about a panel before our panel - a panel on "experimental" workshops. This panel basically seems to have turned into a debate on teaching Hejinian vs teaching Kunitz. First of all I think any "experimental" workshop should be about the way stuff gets taught, not merely substituting one set of authors for the next. But also - and this was what I talked about - how all the names seems to have been contemporary American poets. So that's what I talked about. And maybe something about Raymond Williams and the importance of the foreign and uncomprehended. It's all a blur. One panelist had grown up in Poland but did not know about "Bolek and Lolek," my favorite communist cartoon about two very nice boys with big round heads.

All in all there seems to have been a higher level of substantial panels this year than last. Our panel's papers will be in the next Action,Yes. Susan's talk will be in some new journal.

Among the lowlights was no doubt Donald Revell's attempt to turn Rimbaud into an Anglo-American, Christian poet. His argument was that Rimbaud was a Blakean poet with "the imaginary influences" of Ashbery and other contemporary American poets. His concept of "imaginary influences" is more revealing than he meant it to be - his only way of making sense of Rimbaud is as a contemporary American poet, removing his foreigness. Strangely, his talk compared Rimbaud's work to several poets, all of them English-language poets. Not a single French poet in the bunch. Freedom fries for everyone. Pretty offensive.

The best reception was no doubt Counterpath's and Omnidawn's reception, even though I missed Andrew Joron's reading from his new book of essays and though the drinks were outrageously expensive. It was the best because I saw a bunch of people I hadn't seen for awhile. I was informed that I had criticized Julie Carr, the editor of Counterpath. The Internet has made me into a monster! I can't even remember the things I've written.

Walking around the floor of the bookfair tableless, Richard Greenfield was selling the first Apostrophe book - "Tonight's the Night" by Catherine Meng. I'll write something more about this book later because it's perplexing in the best of ways.

I met GC Waldrep for the first time and he gave me the name of a poet I meant to look up. Unfortunately I lost the little notebook I wrote it down in (along with all the books I received and bought during the fair - I'm a space case). I ran into a whole lot of Alabama students, some of whom were in charge of the Action/Fairy Tale Review table.

Our Action/Fence reading went very well. Lots of good stuff. Good crowd. Weird disco balls. Special credit goes to Laura Mullen and Dan Machlin of Futurepoems because they were the first two people to buy the latest Action Books book, "lip wolf" by Laura Solorzano, translated by Jen Hofer.


Blogger Fran├žois Luong said...

Re: Experimental workshops, I wonder what you mean when you write about the way "they are taught." Personally, I would really dig it if I was asked to read a bunch of books unrelated to poetry, and bring in a discussion about, I don't know, super-string theory, neurotransmittors and receptors, or the nature of architecture.

Now, I would have liked to have attended the Revell panel, just out of curiosity, really. The way you describe it sounds a lot like it was a lot of mental wankery.

10:45 AM  
Blogger AB said...

You left out the part about Donald Revell coming to hear our panel. Was that real? A dream? A rumor?


3:19 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I don't know if that was true. If he did he should have heckled me.

I also forgot Sandra trying to bruise/flirt with/berate Josh Clover. That was memorable.

As for experimental workshops, I like your idea Francois.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Sandra Simonds said...

you know, i lost my notebook at awp too.

and, i was just so excited to meet josh that i didn't know how to express myself.

next time, lock me up in a cage, please so i don't make anyone feel bad.

5:22 PM  
Blogger Fran├žois Luong said...

It frightens me a bit when someone says they like my ideas.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What was I doing that weekend... making political posters, reading Mickey Spillane for class, drinking wine. Probably should've gone to AWP.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Amish Trivedi said...

Poetry-schmoetry! Did anyone go to the Varsity? Ah, who am I kidding? No poet is brave enough to risk intestinal destruction. Risky with poems, conservative with food.


10:06 PM  

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