Saturday, January 29, 2011

AWP 2011 Events

If you’re at AWP next week, here are a few things I’m looking forward to. (I haven't looked very closely at the schedule yet, so I'm sure there are many more things of interest. As I find out about them I'll post them here.)

Thursday 2/3

1:30-2:45 PM Executive Room / Omni Shoreham Hotel, West Lobby

R184. A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line. (Emily Rosko, Raza Ali Hasan, Evie Shockley, John Gallaher, Emmy Perez, Robyn Schiff) So much in poetry depends upon the line—one of the most contested and central topics in 20th century poetics. This panel extends the discussion of this poetic fixture into the 21st-century. The concept of the line so often emerges as a kind of poetic and critical blank check—an aesthetic, sociopolitical, and metaphysical variable. Embracing this variability, the panelists will discuss how the line remains a crucial and generative force in their poetic work and thought.

4:30 p.m.-5:45 p.m. Regency Ballroom / Omni Shoreham Hotel, West Lobby

R231. A Reading and Conversation with Rae Armantrout, Sponsored by Wesleyan University Press. (Rae Armantrout, Craig Morgan Teicher) Ron Silliman said, “trying to read a book by Rae Armantrout in a single sitting is like trying to drink a bowl of diamonds. What’s inside is all so shiny & clear & even tiny that it appears perfectly do-able. But the stones are so hard & their edges so chiseled that the instant you begin they’ll start to rip your insides apart.” Join us as Rae reads from Money Shot, her follow up to the Pulitzer Prize-winning Versed, also recipient of the NBCC Award, followed by a conversation with poet and critic, Craig Teicher.

Saturday 2/5

1:30-2:45 Ambassador Ballroom / Omni Shoreham Hotel, West Lobby

S182. New American Writing 40th-Anniversary Reading. (Maxine Chernoff, Bin Ramke, Gillian Conoley, Rusty Morrison, Paul Hoover, Julie Carr) The distinguished literary magazine New American Writing will celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2011. Established in 1971 as a saddle-stitched quarterly called OINK!, it has become one of the premier literary periodicals of our time. Some of the magazine’s leading contributors will read from their work.


At 1/29/2011 6:10 PM, Anonymous Julia said...

Trying to read just one Armantrout poem--"Money Shot," for example--is being handed a milkshake with a straw protruding from the opaque plastic lid. It looks perfectly suckable, but when you start sucking, nothing comes up through the straw. So you pry off the lid and find a chunk of beef at the bottom of the cup.

At 1/29/2011 7:14 PM, Blogger knott said...

I had a few poems published in Oink, but I wasn't good enough to cross over into New American Writing: they had higher standards . . .

I can't understand Armantrout (literally can't understand what her poems are saying), but I assume it's my failure, my lack of intelligence, not hers. My blind spot, or rather one of my blind spots.

At 1/30/2011 6:19 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...


I like that more than the diamond thing. Her poems jump from one side of the street to the other side of the moon . . .

I love them (though there are some I slip out of), but I have sympathy for Knott's position. No poetry works for everyone.

As the previous post and comments circle: different ways of writing poems are different ways of seeing.

At 1/30/2011 8:21 AM, Anonymous Annie said...

The problem with "Money Shot," for me, is the title. You can use the expression "money shot" in a sentence like "Pete Sampras's serve is his money shot,"--i.e., the shot with which he wins the cash prize--but probably the reader will immediately think of the pornographic meaning "money shot" has assumed in contemporary parlance. And since the poem apparently contains nothing germane to pornography, the pornographic association is a loose end.

If the image of a hinge is important in my poem, I wouldn't call the poem "Cardinal," because even though cardo means hinge, "cardinal" will immediately conjure up a priest or a red bird. If I call the poem "Cardinal," it needs to refer to those more common associations as well as to a hinge. Or I need to put some red in there. Otherwise I have a loose end that will leave the reader WTF-ing.

When I read "Money Shot" with no elucidation from the poet, it's clear enough that IndyMac has something to do with moneylust and greedy fastfood-gobbling. And I see a similarity between the symbol-veiled, ambiguous meaning of dreams and not saying what you mean in a direct, literal way. But in an interview Silliman links to, Armantrout reveals a connection between "money shot" and saying what you mean that's so recondite/attenuated/private that...well, I would've had to supply my own connection.

I'm not saying I dislike having to bridge gaps in a poem myself. I guess I'm ambivalent.

At 1/30/2011 8:33 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

It's a necessary ambivalence, I think. One that Armantrout would be OK with.

In an interview I posted on this blog a couple weeks ago, she does talk about the pornography aspect of "money shot" as an idea -- the "shot that proves" in a transactional sense (ahem) -- of the structural, overarching aspects of American culture.

Something like that. The private / public aspect of the poem (and book) is an important one. I'm with you on that. But for me, as a reader, I don't see the "public" overtness of other contemporary big-name poets as any more satisfying.

By and large, I think the ways private/public can work in art needs to be worked on more. Many poets are taking easy ways out (on both sides of the equation).

And before I/we get too carried away about this being a post-post-modern American thing, we must remember to remind ourselves of Gertrude Stein through Paul Celan, etc. (Etc as both across time and geography.)

If I'd hazard a problem (dichotomy? issue?) our time needs to address in the arts more than any other I'd say it's this one.

At 1/30/2011 8:40 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

I'll add this:

Early on in his career, Dean Young was seen as a synthesis of this, and therefore pushed too fast into the "Big-Name" poet world. I say "too fast" because he really hasn't developed of deepened his way of dealing with either his private imagination (the idiosyncratic way he deals with vaguely surreal images that are more flights of fancy from a feeling toward a topic that he's set out obviously in a public imagination way) or his public imagination (the themes, often sophomoric, centering on first level thinking about sexuality and mortality).

Just saying.

At 1/30/2011 9:51 AM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

Line panel sounds really interesting! I'm going to try to make it to that.

At 1/30/2011 10:10 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

To be honest, I'm a little disappointed. I thought it was going to be line dancing. $100.00 in lessons, now, and for what?

At 1/30/2011 10:20 AM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

No joke about it breaking your achy-breaky heart? Now I'm disappointed.

At 1/30/2011 10:28 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

You are without mercy.


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