Category: December 2013

Feliz Lucia Molina on Avital Ronell

Avital Ronnell. Photo courtesy of the European Graduate School
Avital Ronell. Photo courtesy of the European Graduate School.

Founded in 1994, the European Graduate School is a program led by philosophers, film makers, writers, poets and artists, located in Saas-Fee, Switzerland. A fun camp of critical theory and continental philosophy, its teachers and students gather from around the world in a secluded Swiss Alp town for three-week-long intensive study and lectures that continue late into the night at Metro Bar, Happy Bar, Popcorn, or wherever else. Fortunately, all of the official lectures are videotaped and archived. Continue reading

Double Change: Pascal Poyet and Lisa Robertson

Pascal Poyne and Lisa Robertson
Pascal Poyet and Lisa Robertson

Double Change was founded in 2000 in order to juxtapose, unite and reunite French- and English-language poetries in a new bi-national, multi-faceted forum. Established as a nonprofit organization in Paris, and with editorial boards in both France and the U.S., Double Change looks to represent a diverse, eclectic spectrum of poetic activity in both countries. Starting next year, The Conversant will feature curated selections from the Double Change archive of live recordings. Here we would like to introduce that series with a recording of Pascal Poyet and Lisa Robertson reading from Cinema of the Present last December. Continue reading

Rusty Morrison with Craig Santos Perez

Craig Santos Perez
Craig Santos Perez

The subject of this interview is Craig Santos Perez’s forthcoming book from unincorporated territory [guma’] (Omnidawn).

Rusty Morrison: It’s very exciting for me to see the third installment of from unincorporated territory come to fruition. Each book is complete in itself, yet each certainly echoes the other two collections. Can you speak to the ways that [guma’] is unique, and the ways that it enlarges the project that these three books are a part of?

Craig Santos Perez: The first book of the series, from unincorporated territory [hacha] focused on my grandfather’s life and experience on our home island of Guåhan (Guam) when the island was occupied by Japan’s military during World War II. The second book, from unincorporated territory [saina], focused on my grandmother’s contrasting experience during that same period. This new book echoes and enlarges the earlier books through the themes of family, militarization, cultural identity, migration and colonialism. Furthermore, [guma’] focuses on my own return to my home island after living away (in California) for 15 years. I explore how the island has changed and how my idea of home has changed. I also meditate upon the memories that I have carried with me, as well as all that I have forgotten and left behind. Formally, I experiment with new forms and genres in [guma’], such as prose poetry, eco-poetics, conceptual poetry, indigenous oral poetry and mythological poetry. Continue reading

Rusty Morrison with Keith Waldrop

Keith Waldrop
Keith Waldrop

The subject of this interview is Waldrop’s book The Not Forever.

Rusty Morrison: It was such a delight for me, when you offered Omnidawn The Not Forever! I couldn’t believe our great good fortune. As I wrote in the book description that we are using for our press materials, “These poems take not only mortality, but also the impossibility of truly assessing mortality, as their endlessly inexplicable subject.” These poems “assess the quintessentially human inability to exact knowledge from the existence that we live, as well as from the inexistence that we each are veering toward.” The poems frightened me, and yet they “friend-ed” me too: they are ferociously generous in their candor. I want to ask about your relationship to these poems. Can you tell me a little about your intentions for the book?

Keith Waldrop: I think you have gotten the book right. I couldn’t express it better. Continue reading

Angela Buck on Leonard Schwartz with Linh Dinh

Linh Dinh
Linh Dinh

This monthly series features highlights from the Cross Cultural Poetics archive. Cross Cultural Poetics is one of the longest-running radio shows in America focused on contemporary poetry and poetics. Based at The Evergreen State College and hosted by Leonard Schwartz, the entire archive, running from 2003 to the present, can be accessed on PennSound.

This month, I’ve chosen an episode from the fall 2004 season—an interview with Saigon-born poet, fiction writer and translator, Linh Dinh. Dinh reads from his 2004 collection of stories, Blood and Soap, including the extraordinary story “Prisoner with a Dictionary,” which he calls a “story of conversion” that speaks to the experience of being caught between two languages. He also reads from the 2001 anthology, Three Vietnamese Poets, which he translated, as well as his 2003 poetry collection, All Around What Empties Out. Schwartz and Dinh discuss the relationship between power and imagination, and the play between the comic and the tragic that runs through Dinh’s poetry and stories—something Dinh attributes to the French tradition of black humor, running from Rabelais to Alfred Jarry, Henri Michaux and Antonin Artaud.—Angela Buck

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Tony Trigilio with Leonard Schwartz

Leonard Schwartz
Leonard Schwartz

In his monthly poetry podcast, Radio Free Albion, Tony Trigilio interviews poets about their recently released or forthcoming books. Always informal, each interview is a conversation—two poets talking about the work and play of the creative process and showcasing some of the most innovative new work in contemporary poetry. This interview with Leonard Schwartz was transcribed by Cameron Decker.   

Tony Trigilio: Hi Leonard, how you doing?

Leonard Schwartz: I’m fine Tony, great to be with you here on Radio Free Albion. Continue reading

Declan Gould with Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto

Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto
Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto

Here Declan Gould interviews Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto about documentary poetry and the poetics of disability.

Amber DiPietra and Denise Leto’s collaboratively-written chapbook, Waveform, was published by Kenning Editions in 2011, and was released as an ebook in October 2013. An excerpt was translated into Italian in 2012 for Sagarana. DiPietra has an autonomic form of childhood arthritis, and Leto has laryngeal dystonia, a neurological disorder that affects speech. The constraints that these conditions create are intimately tied to both the forms and the themes of Waveform, a profoundly evocative long poem whose implications for experimental and documentary poetry, disability and somatics, accumulate with each line. Waveform is a layered work of varying modes that synthesizes multiple discourses and raises productive questions about these modes’ ethics and complexities.

Note: I interviewed DiPietra via phone and Leto via e-mail, because this was best for each of their bodies. I have integrated their answers here for greater ease of reading. –Declan Gould

Declan Gould: Can you give me an idea of how the collaboration worked? How interwoven or separate is your authorship? Are there certain sections that each of you wrote, or have the two voices become indistinguishable? How did you collaboratively assemble the various pieces?

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John D’Agata and Phillip Lopate

John D'Agata and Phillip Lopate
John D'Agata and Phillip Lopate

When I become interested in an idea, I want to know what I think about it—so I write essays. But I also, frequently, want to know what others think about the same idea. If I think enough people might be interested, I try to edit a collection of essays. Editors don’t talk to each other that often. There are organizations of writers, but editors are strewn about, having occasional conversations that are rarely recorded. For this series of dialogues, I’ve tried to gather some editors of nonfiction anthologies to talk together. I fed them a few questions, which they’ve responded to, or not. Their conversations are as interesting, as lively, as their anthologies. —David Lazar  Continue reading

Jonathan Stalling with Afaa Michael Weaver

Afaa Michael Weaver. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Laine.
Afaa Michael Weaver. Photograph courtesy of Catherine Laine.

In 2007, I founded the Mark Allen Everett Poetry Series. This series curates between 10 to 15 readings a year in Norman, Oklahoma and features poets spanning a broad spectrum of poetry communities and styles. Past poets who have read include Tom Raworth, Hank Lazer, Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Arthur Sze, Natasha Tretheway, Myung Mi Kim, Charles Alexander, Joe Harrington, Afaa Weaver, Shin Yu Pai, Leonard Schwartz, Hugh Tribby, Gerald Stern, Sy Hoawhwah, Alexandra Teague, Kate Greenstreet, Dean Rader, Zhang Er, Julie Carr, Tim Roberts, Grant Jenkins, Keorapetse Kgositsile, Duo Duo, Wang Jiaxin, Glenn Mott, among many more. Continue reading

Jeffrey Williams with Rita Felski

Rita Felski
Rita Felski

Feminism is sometimes portrayed as focusing on politics at the expense of aesthetics. Rita Felski’s Literature After Feminism (University of Chicago Press, 2003) shows how, on the contrary, feminism has enriched the reading of literature. Much of Felski’s work has looked at feminism and modernism, notably in her first three books, Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change (Harvard University Press, 1989), The Gender of Modernity (Harvard University Press, 1995) and Doing Time: Feminist Theory and Postmodern Culture (New York University Press, 2000), a collection of her essays.

This interview took place soon after the publication of Literature After Feminism. Since then, Felski has developed a neo-phenomenological approach to literature, which she explains in “Everyday Aesthetics,” her contribution to “The Credo Issue” of minnesota review (2009); she defends the study of literature in Uses of Literature (Blackwell, 2008) and Rethinking Tragedy (edited; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). In addition to her writing, she took over the editorship of New Literary History in 2009, where she has sponsored a number of special issues on new directions in literary studies, such as “New Sociologies of Literature” (2010) and “Context?” (2011).

Born in 1956, Felski received her BA in French and German literature at Cambridge University and her PhD in German at Monash University in Australia. She taught at Perth and Murdoch Universities in Australia, moving in 1994 to the University of Virginia, where she is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English.

This interview took place on 28 December 2004, in the midst of the MLA Convention in Philadelphia. It was conducted and edited by Jeffrey J. Williams and transcribed by Srila Nayak.

Jeffrey Williams: Your new book, Literature After Feminism, takes stock of contemporary feminism—as I take it, in the wake of the culture wars. Can you talk about that book and the situation it responds to?

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Jeffrey Williams with Rita Felski

Rita Felski
Rita Felski

Feminism is sometimes portrayed as focusing on politics at the expense of aesthetics. Rita Felski’s Literature After Feminism (University of Chicago Press, 2003) shows how, on the contrary, feminism has enriched the reading of literature. Much of Felski’s work has looked at feminism and modernism, notably in her first three books, Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change (Harvard University Press, 1989), The Gender of Modernity (Harvard University Press, 1995) and Doing Time: Feminist Theory and Postmodern Culture (New York University Press, 2000), a collection of her essays.

This interview took place soon after the publication of Literature After Feminism. Since then, Felski has developed a neo-phenomenological approach to literature, which she explains in “Everyday Aesthetics,” her contribution to “The Credo Issue” of minnesota review (2009); she defends the study of literature in Uses of Literature (Blackwell, 2008) and Rethinking Tragedy (edited; Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008). In addition to her writing, she took over the editorship of New Literary History in 2009, where she has sponsored a number of special issues on new directions in literary studies, such as “New Sociologies of Literature” (2010) and “Context?” (2011).

Born in 1956, Felski received her BA in French and German literature at Cambridge University and her PhD in German at Monash University in Australia. She taught at Perth and Murdoch Universities in Australia, moving in 1994 to the University of Virginia, where she is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of English.

This interview took place on 28 December 2004, in the midst of the MLA Convention in Philadelphia. It was conducted and edited by Jeffrey J. Williams and transcribed by Srila Nayak.

Jeffrey Williams: Your new book, Literature After Feminism, takes stock of contemporary feminism—as I take it, in the wake of the culture wars. Can you talk about that book and the situation it responds to?

Continue reading

Jon Curley with Rachel Hadas

Rachel Hadas
Rachel Hadas

Jon Curley: Can you envision what kinds of poems, whether structurally or thematically, you might consider writing beyond the realm of your past practice? Are there elements of poems outside your usual patterns and activities you might try to integrate into your work?

Rachel Hadas: I find myself in close, ongoing collaboration with a video artist, Shalom Gorewitz. His “Yemaya,” (made under the pseudonym of Solace Salentino) a video rendering of a new poem of mine, can be found here. Due to my illness this summer, I became interested in making an offering to the ocean mother divinity, Yemaya, and this video depicts that. We plan more videos going forward. Continue reading

Virginia Konchan with Janice Lee

Janice Lee
Janice Lee

Psychoanalytic discourse (Winnicott’s “good enough” mother, the devouring mother, etc.) haunt the Western imaginary, wherein parodies of our socio-cultural schism (virgin/whore) are attenuated by iconic representations of gender (Madonna, Gaga). Here I explore with writer Janice Lee the fine line between these mythic representations, the work of mourning and lived generational narratives. We also consider contemporary memes, such as the “feral feminism” of The Hunger Games, eating disorders, infertility and other symptoms of cultural malaise, and the damaging myth of a woman who has (or does, as an extenuation of capitalist production values) it all. Rage on. —Virginia Konchan Continue reading

Nature Theater of Oklahoma with Philip Bither

Philip Bither
Philip Bither

Nature Theater of Oklahoma talks to Philip Bither, Senior Curator of Performing Arts at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, about ego, humility and identity. Is it an arrogant act to program work (or make work) that you may personally feel is important—for an audience who may not want that kind of challenge? What is the grass roots work a good curator has to do to find and foster public interest (as populist as we can make it) in these so-called “difficult” works? Continue reading

H.L. Hix with Jan Conn

Jan Conn
Jan Conn

In the hopes of encouraging a broader exchange among U.S. and Canadian poets, H. L. Hix has designed a series of one-question “mini-interviews” for his Canadian peers. A selection of these interviews will be incorporated into his forthcoming book Ley Lines (Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2015). The subject of this interview is Jan Conn’s Edge Effects.

H.L. Hix: Though the poems in Edge Effects occupy “this intermediate realm,” they enter others frequently, and suddenly; they “superimpose / one horizon onto another.” I’m no mathematician and no scientist, but I think I “get” the concept of self-similarity at all scales, as it gets emphasized in popular accounts of fractals, and I wonder if some version of “self-similarity at all scales” is at work in the movement from one realm to another in these poems (from the music of the spheres, to my being “dog-eared and decadent”; from “a train / racing overhead” to “ground level / among the centipedes and beetles”; etc.).

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H.L. Hix with Sue Sinclair

Sue Sinclair
Sue Sinclair

In the hopes of encouraging a broader exchange among U.S. and Canadian poets, H. L. Hix has designed a series of one-question “mini-interviews” for his Canadian peers. A selection of these interviews will be incorporated into his forthcoming book Ley Lines (Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, 2015). The subject of this interview is Sue Sinclair’s Breaker.

H.L. Hix: I am struck by the ambiguity of the book’s very last poem, “Asleep,” especially its last line. “We sleep side-by-side with eternity, and never touch” might mean that we two humans (the speaker and the particular person being addressed by the speaker) sleep, both of us alongside eternity, and we two humans never touch one another, or it might mean that we humans each of us individually sleeps alongside eternity, and we never touch eternity. (The line might sustain other meanings as well.) No doubt the ambiguity is intentional, so I do not ask you to “settle the matter” by removing the ambiguity, but I do ask: How does the line’s ambiguity cast back over the poems that preceded it in the book? Does it magnify other ambiguities?

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Jim Goar with Marcus Slease

Marcus Slease
Marcus Slease

This transatlantic interview series, “The Slow Boat,” provides a setting for poets to engage in occasional conversation over the course of two months. It strives to be an invitation to further inquiry into the methods and complexities of a particular composition. The aim is not to be conclusive, but, in tandem, to further explore what it is to make a poem. 

Jim Goar: The opening lines of The House of Zabka (“Carrie was born in the best of times and the worst of / times”) weave A Tale of Two Cities into its tapestry. When her father dumps pig blood on her head, Carrie is incorporated into Carrie. On the following page, Toto appears at the entrance of a forbidden zone amongst “ancient symbols and a mobile phone number.” The reader, at the border, is forced to grind pop and canonical material just as Carrie’s father rolls “up that pig meat into all kinds of kielbasa.” And, like the consumer of these mysterious meat products, I am not certain that I know what I am eating. After all, this is a land in which: “You could swap the dog for your boyfriend or girlfriend.” I am pulled to these trades. If we could swap the dog for your boyfriend or girlfriend, could we also swap a Dickens novel for another Dickens novel or a newspaper for a fish? Does it all taste the same or are the specifics of the trades important? Do you choose the transactional material or does it choose you? Did you have the source books open and the movies playing while you were writing The House of Zabka? Maybe we could start somewhere in the vicinity of these concerns.

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