Monday, December 7, 2009

Field and Focus Reading Lists with Introductions

FIELD LIST: 20th Century American, Experimental Poetry

My field list explores twentieth century experimental poetry and the manner in which it engages both theories of the avant-garde, as well as more traditional lineages of poetry. While, no doubt, many of these writers and their works have developed over time into standardized models for poetic construction, situated historically, the texts these writers produced questioned the normative aesthetics of their respective eras. But non-normative writing practices should not be relegated to difference for the sake of difference within a particular art form, nor should aesthetic variants be considered simply as negations of the prevailing trends in art for art’s sake. Instead, this specific lineage of experimental poetry is, perhaps, better understood as intellectual and political explorations of marginalized modes of thought so as to expand our notions of what constitutes poetry and how that poetry can appropriately engage a variety of social spaces.

More specifically, my field list begins with a select few early modernists who construct a foundation for the later writers; they are Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein, and William Carlos Williams. All three of these writers conceptualized language and poetry as material objects in-and-of-itself (i.e. “little machines”), and such a view necessarily influenced the aesthetic decisions each one of them chose. Immediately following the aforementioned modernists are those writers loosely defined as the Objectivists. As the collective moniker implies, their poetry attempted to apprehend “the art form [i.e. poetry] as an object.” Likewise, the Projectivist and Language poetries that derived from these movements viewed poetry through a materialist lens, but sought to update and alter their forbearers so as to develop poetries relevant for their contemporary context. In addition to this primary lineage, several poets traditionally aligned with the Beat movement, San Francisco Renaissance, and the New York School are examined as well. While some of the writers associated with these camps do not share as an intense interest in the materiality of language as the others do, their work produced aesthetic ruptures within the dominant mode of poetry that simultaneously complicate and speak to both traditional and materialist verse.

The critical work for my field list serves three distinct, yet interrelated functions. First, there are several theoretical collections written by poets associated with the aforementioned movements (i.e. Pound, Zukofsky, Olson, Andrews, and Bernstein).These texts articulate what conceptual models the poets thought through to develop their particular poetry and poetics, and therefore, provide useful insights into the primary texts themselves.Secondly, some of the critical works investigate the meaning and historical context of the avant-garde. The books that examine this subject matter will aid in an understanding of both the discourse established around the term, as well as the manner in which particular poetries both dialogue with and function in contradistinction to dominant modes of expression. The final group of theoretical texts is specifically philosophical in nature and focuses on either language, culture, or both; furthermore, these texts served as conceptual touchstones for many of the poets on my list. Working in conjunction with one another, the critical writing should provide for a fuller understanding of the creative output of the poets by mapping the linguistic, historical, cultural, and aesthetic framework surrounding their writing.


· Armantrout, Rae. The Complete Early Poems. Los Angeles, CA: Green Integer, 2008.

· Ashbery, John. The Tennis Court Oath: A Book of Poems. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1962.

· Bernstein, Charles. Republics of Reality: 1975-1995. Los Angeles, CA: Green Integer, 1996.

· Duncan, Robert. Selected Poems. New YOrk, NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 1997.

· Berrigan, Ted. The Sonnets. New York, NY: Penguin Books, 2000.

· Creeley, Robert. Selected Poems 1945-2005. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008.

· Ginsberg, Allen. Howl and Other Poems. San Francisco, CA: City Lights Books, 1956.

· Guest, Barbara. The Collected Poems of Barbara Guest. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan Press, 2008.

· Hejinian, Lyn. My Life. Providence, RI: Burning Deck, 1980.

· Howe, Susan. Singularities. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1990.

· Kim, Myung Mi. Dura. Ed. 2nd. New York, NY: Nightboat Books, Inc., 2008

· Levertov, Denise. Collected Earlier Poems, 1940-1960. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 1979.

· Loy, Mina. The Lost Lunar Baedeker: Poems of Mina Loy. New York, NY: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1997.

· Mackey, Nathaniel. Splay Anthem. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 2006.

· Mac Low, Jackson. Thing of Beauty: New and Selected Work. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009.

· Morley, Hilda. To Hold in My Hand: Selected Poems. New York, NY: Sheep Meadow Press, 1983.

· Mullen, Harryette. Recyclopedia: Trimmings, S*PeRM**K*T, and Muse & Drudge. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2006.

· Niedecker, Lorine. Collected Works. Ed. Jenny Penberthy. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2002.

· Notley, Alice. Grave Light: New and Selected Poems 1970-2005. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2008.

· Olson, Charles. Selected Poems. Ed. Robert Creeley. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1993.

· Oppen, George. The Collected Poems of George Oppen. New York, NY: New Directions Books, 1975.

· Palmer, Michael. Sun. San Francisco, CA: North Point Press, 1988.

· Rakosi, Carl. The Collected Poems of Carl Rakosi. Orono, ME: The National Poetry Foundation, 1986.

· Scalapino, Leslie. It’sgo in horizontal: Selected Poems: 1974-2006. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2008.

· Spicer, Jack. My Vocabulary Did This To Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2008.

· Stein, Gertrude. Tender Buttons. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc. 1997.

· Williams, William Carlos. Paterson. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 1995.

· Zukofsky, Louis. Complete Short Poetry. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Theory and Criticism:

· Adorno, Theodor W. and Max Horkheimer. Dialectic of Enlightenment: Cultural Memory in the Present. Trans. Edmund Jephcott. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002.

· Andrews, Bruce and Charles Bernstein. eds. The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Universty Press, 1984.

· Bürger, Peter. Theory of the Avant-Garde. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

· Derrida, Jacques. Writing and Difference. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

· Lehman, David. The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets. New York, NY: Anchor Press, 1999.

· Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Differend: Phrases in Dispute. Trans. Georges Van Den Abbeele. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1988.

· Lyotard, Jean-Francois and Jean-Loup Thébaud. Just Gaming. Trans. Wlad Godzich. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985.

· Olson, Charles. Human Universe and Other Essays. New York, NY: Grove Press, 1967.

· Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing, 1935.

· Puchner, Martin. Poetry of the Revolution: Marx, Manifestos, and the Avant-Gardes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

· Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Trans. D.F. Pears and B.F. McGuinness. New York, NY: Routledge, 1961.

· Zukofsky, Louis. Prepositions+: The Collected Critical Essays. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 2000.

FOCUS LIST: Hybrid Poetries

My focus list centers around an inquiry into hybrid texts and the manner in which they extend our accepted notions of what constitutes poetry, and on a more general level, what constitutes a text, genre, and authorship. As such, each of these “poetry” collections evinces at least one of the following characteristics: an admixture of genre conventions traditionally considered exclusive to one, an interplay between word and image, and multiple authors collaborating on a single text. While the majority of the collections were published over the course of the last several years, there is a small group of texts that date back to the mid-to-late twentieth century. The latter grouping of works functions, to a certain extent, as foundational models which the more contemporary books can be read through, in conjunction with, and against.

Each of the aforementioned, guiding characteristics raises a series of questions that will direct my reading. With regard to genre conventions, the broadest of these questions is: what differentiates poetry from other genres? And what are the ramifications of both reading and producing works that deliberately complicate accepted notions of genre definition? Ultimately, the interrogation leads to fundamental, ontological questions about the nature of poetry’s identity. While similar questions arise with collections that incorporate both textual and visual language, they also force the reader to engage and reflect upon the multiple relationships between the two mediums, and perhaps more importantly, the corresponding effects and affects such interactions foster, intensify, and mitigate. Finally, co-authored collections relate to the concept of hybridity in that they require us to reexamine how we, as writers, conceive and compose a text, what is its purpose, and how do we, as readers, make sense of such writing when confronted with an authorial multiplicity.

To this extent, the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari provide us with a conceptual framework in which to situate hybrid texts. Not only does the collaborative writing of these two men offer a meta-commentary on co-authorship, but their intellectual endeavors (alone and in conjunction with one another) interrogates many of the same questions that my focus list centers on. While, no doubt, Deleuze and Guattari developed a thorough intellectual apparatus to address these concerns, I also have a desire to move beyond, or at least through, their thoughts. Therefore, I include several theoretical collections on or about their philosophy that seek to push the concepts into different areas and directions. Additionally, several texts explore the origins of the term “hybridity” and the inherent problems of employing it outside the discourse of postcolonial studies. Finally, my focus list incorporates criticism on twenty-first century poetry and poetics, as well as critical work that studies representational models of text-image hybrids, so as to outline alternative, non-Deleuzian contexts within which one could (and does) understand these texts in the contemporary moment.

Finally, all the books on my focus list, whether poetry or critical, ask both writers and readers to reconfigure, or perhaps configure for the first time, what the term “hybrid” means and how does it relate to or alter what poetry can be to our presents and futures. In other words, my intention is to foster a more expansive understanding of poetry that will lead poets and poetry into new and exciting directions that have yet to be fully explored.


· Anzaldua, Gloria. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza. Ed. 3rd. San Francisco, CA: Aunt Lute Books, 2007.

· Ashbery, John. The Vermont Notebook. New York, NY: Granary Books, 2001.

· Beckman, Joshua and Matthew Rohrer. Nice Hat. Thanks. Amherst, MA: Verse Press, 2002.

· Bernes, Jasper. Starsdown. Berkeley, CA: ingirumimusnocteetconsumimiurigni, 2007.

· Boyer, Anne. Anne Boyer’s Good Apocalypse. Austin, TX: Effing Press, 2006.

· Brown, Laynie. The Scented Fox. Seattle, WA: Wave Books, 2007.

· Cage, John. Silence: Lectures and Writing. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan Press, 1961.

· Carson, Anne. Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse. New York,NY: Vintage-Random House, Inc., 1998.

· Coolidge, Clark and Bernadette Mayer. The Cave. Princeton, NJ: Adventures in Poetry, 2009.

· Gordon, Noah Eli and Joshua Marie Wilkinson. Figures for a Darkroom Voice. Townshend, VT: Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2007.

· Görranson, Johannes. A New Quarantine Will Take My Place. Apostrophe Books, 2007.

· Guest, Barbara. Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing. Berkeley, CA: Kelsey Street Press, 2003.

· Hak Kyung Cha, Theresa. Dictee. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2001.

· Howe, Susan. The Midnight. New York, NY: New Directions Publishing Co., 2003.

· Keene, John and Christopher Stackhouse. Seismosis. San Diego, CA: 1913 Press, 2006.

· Kelsey, Karla. Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary. Boise, ID: Ahsahta Press, 2006.

· Rankine, Claudia. Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. Saint Paul, MN: Graywolf Press, 2004.

· Robertson, Lisa. Debbie: An Epic. Point Roberts, WA: New Star Books, 1997.

· Ruefle, Mary. A Little White Shadow. Seattle, WA: Wave Books, 2006.

· Sikelianos, Eleni. Body Clock. Saint Paul, MN: Coffee House Press, 2008.

· Smith, Rod. Deed. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2007.

· Spahr, Juliana. The Transformation. Berkeley, CA: Atelos Publishing Project, 2007.

· Taggart, John. There Are Birds. Chicago, IL. Flood Editions, 2008.

· Torres, Edwin. The PoPedology of an Ambient Language. Berkeley, CA: Atelos Publishing Project, 2007.

· Toscano, Rodrigo. Collapsible Poetics Theater. Albany, NY: Fence Books, 2008.

· Tost, Tony. Complex Sleep. Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 2007.

· Tynes, Jen and Erika Howsare. The Ohio System. Lincoln, NE: Octopus Books, 2006.

· Williams, Tyrone. On Spec. Richmond, CA: Omnidawn Publishing, 2007.

Theory and Criticism:

· Beach, Christopher. Artifice and Indeterminacy: An Anthology of New Poetics. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2007.

· Deleuze, Gilles. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation. Trans. Tom Conley. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.

· Deleuze, Gilles and Felix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Trans. Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

· Lecercle, Jean-Jacques. Deleuze and Language. New York, NY: Palgrave-MacMillan, 2002.

· Mitchell, W.J.T. Picture Theory: Essay on Verbal and Visual Representation. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994.

· Mitchell, W.J.T, ed. The Language of Images. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

· Nealon, Christopher. “Camp Messianism, or, the Hopes of Poetry in Late-Late Capitalism.” American Literature 76 (2004): 579-602.

· O’Sullivan, Simon. Art Encounters Deleuze and Guattari: Thought Beyond Representation. New York, NY: Palgrave-MacMillian, 2006.

· Perloff, Marjorie. 21st-Century Modernisms: The “New” Poetics. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 2002.

· Place, Vanessa and Robert Fitterman. Notes on Conceptualisms. New York, NY: Ugly Duckling Press, 2009.

· Ramazani, Jahan. The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001.

· Werbner, Pnina and Tarid Modood, ed. Debating Cultural Hybridity: Multi-Cultural Identities and the Politics of Anti-Racism. New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan, 1997.

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