Review of The Banquet by Kenneth Koch at the Los Angeles Review of Books

My review of The Banquet, the collected plays of Kenneth Koch, has just been published by the Los Angeles Review of Books. It’s my first piece for the LA Review of Books, which I love, and I’m excited to have my work appear there.

If you like Koch’s poems, but don’t really know his plays, they’re crazy and fun – as I argue in the piece, experiencing his plays is a bit like seeing “key elements of Koch’s poetry, and poetry of the New York School more broadly, lifted off the page, set in motion, and turned into 3D spectacle.”

“Here Is Freshness and the Shore’s Timeless Teeth”: The Plays of Kenneth Koch

“I’ll Be Your Mirror”: Lou Reed and the New York School of Poetry

In the wake of Lou Reed’s death last week, a piece of mine about Reed — “‘I’ll Be Your Mirror’: Lou Reed and the New York School of Poetry” — was published on the Poetry Foundation’s blog, as part of their “Open Door” feature.  I’m very interested in the longstanding, serious connections between Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground and poetry, something that hasn’t been discussed very much in the outpouring of obits, recollections, and assessments after his death.  He’s often referred to as a “punk poet” or “poet laureate of New York,” but this is usually used in the metaphorical sense (just as Dylan is called a “poet”).  His interest in poetry is much more extensive, and in this piece, I argue that the Velvet Underground evolves out of American poetry and art in the 1960s in a way that is really unlike any other phenomenon in rock music.

The piece can be found here and I posted some more reflections on Reed and poetry on my blog here.

 

 

New website — Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets

I’ve decided to start a website/blog called Locus Solus: The New York School of Poets that will be a kind of gathering place for news, links, and commentary on all things related to the New York School of poets and artists.  This site came about because I’ve long felt the need for a place on the web that would be specifically devoted to collecting and aggregating information, scholarship, news, resources, and reflection on the New York School of poets, broadly defined.  It also focuses on the writers, artists, musicians, and other figures who influenced the New York School, as well as on the movement’s profound legacy for later writing, art, and culture more broadly.

I hope you’ll check it out hereand please let me know if you have suggestions of things to post or link to.

NYS photo

 

Among Friends: Engendering the Social Site of Poetry

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I’m very pleased that an essay of mine is included in a great new collection of essays called Among Friends: Engendering the Social Site of Poetry, edited by Libbie Rifkin and Anne Dewey (with a wonderful cover painting by Susan Bee).  I’m particularly excited about the book because it feels like something of a companion to my own Beautiful Enemies: Friendship and Postwar American Poetry, as it too focuses on friendship, poetry, and “the social site of the contemporary avant-garde.”   The collection takes up the vexed role of gender and women’s writing within avant-garde poetic communities, especially as it gets played out within actual poems.  As a whole, the book argues “that friendship is a promising site from which to trace the changing gender politics of post-1945 avant-garde and antiestablishment poetry,” as the editors put it in their introduction. “By studying how the intimate relationships that form the bedrock of community shape the poem as social site, these essays reveal tensions marginal and internal to the group as significant contexts of creativity and sources of change in poetic communities.”

The book features a really interesting array of essays by some excellent scholars and poet-critics, including Linda Russo on Philip Whalen and Joanne Kyger, Daniel Kane on Patti Smith and the Poetry Project, Lytle Shaw on the poetry community in Bolinas, Peter Middleton and Barrett Watten with essays on Language poetry, Maria Damon on Flarf, Ross Hair on Lorine Niedecker and Jonathan Williams, Ann Vickery on Jennifer Moxley, and Duriel Harris, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Ronaldo Wilson on the Cave Canem / Black Took Collective poetic community.  I’m honored to have my own work in such company.

My essay examines the little-discussed and rather rare phenomenon of cross-gender collaboration.  It focuses on a fascinating poem, “Engines,” that was co-written by Rae Armantrout and Ron Silliman in 1982.  I argue that the poem self-consciously explores a host of interesting questions about gender, the nature of collaboration, and the problematic yet generative relationship between women poets and Language poetry, both as a movement and as a community.

Please check out the book here:

http://www.amazon.com/Among-Friends-Engendering-Contemp-American/dp/1609381505

and here:

http://www.uiowapress.org/books/2013-spring/among-friends.htm

Here are some blurbs for the book, by Rachel Blau DuPlessis and Brian Reed:

Among Friends is a fresh, suggestive and lively anthology whose focus on sociality, gender, affiliation, and friendship enriches current literary study. Personable and original, this anthology is full of scintillating information about contemporary people and poems, and it analyzes, theorizes about, and even performs the meanings and excitements of friendship in the literary field.”—Rachel Blau DuPlessis, professor emerita at Temple University, author, Purple Passages: Pound, Eliot, Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley, and the Ends of Patriarchal Poetry

“The essays collectively reaffirm an experimental/avant-garde poetic tradition and deftly demonstrate that gender, far from representing an ‘add on’ or ‘supplement’ to the study of postwar American poetics, is a means of speaking to the very core of a poet’s artistry and self-conception.”—Brian M. Reed, University of Washington, Seattle, author of Phenomenal Reading: Essays in Modern and Contemporary Poetics

“Some Trees,” Ashbery, and O’Hara

In a blog post at Jacket2, Al Filreis talks about his obsession with John Ashbery’s “Some Trees” and uses a passage from my book Beautiful Enemies to support the hypothesis that the poem is actually a love poem for Frank O’Hara.

 
The idea that Ashbery’s reference to “accents” in the poem’s last lines may have something to do with the nasal twang Ashbery felt he shared with O’Hara is tantalizing.  However, I think it’s unlikely that “Some Trees” is a love poem about O’Hara — not least because their relationship was, by all accounts, not a romantic one, but rather a close platonic friendship from beginning to end.  But who knows?  They were young and reckless and still in college at the time!  As I argue in the book, Ashbery spent a lot of time writing in subtle and oblique ways about his relationship with O’Hara, so I for one support this line of argument!

Now on Twitter!

After years of resisting taking the plunge, I just created a Twitter account.  If anyone’s interested, it’s @AndrewEpstein3.  I’m not sure if I’m going to use it much, but am hoping to offer occasional thoughts and links about poetry and poetics, literature, academia, music, art, and other things that interest me.  Or at least find a new way of wasting time on the web.

New essay in Routledge Companion to Experimental Literature

I’m very pleased to have an essay of mine included in a great-looking new collection, The Routledge Companion to Experimental Writing, edited by Joe Bray, Alison Gibbons, and Brian McHale (Routledge 2012).

It’s a big book, filled with great stuff, including chapters by Charles Bernstein, R.M. Berry, Brian McHale, N. Katherine Hayles, Tyrus Miller, Ben Lee, Amy Elias.  My piece is “Found Poetry, ‘Uncreative Writing,’ and the Art of Appropriation,” and it discusses the history of appropriation, sampling, borrowing, and other such practices in literature and the arts, before turning to contemporary developments like the Conceptual poetry of Kenneth Goldsmith and the movement known as Flarf.

New essay on Wallace Stevens and Francis Ponge

My essay on Wallace Stevens and Francis Ponge, “‘The Rhapsody of Things as They Are’: Stevens, Francis Ponge, and the Impossible Everyday,” has just been published in The Wallace Stevens Journal 36.1 (Spring 2012). It’s part of an exciting special issue devoted to “Stevens and the Everyday,” which features essays by Siobhan Phillips, Charles Altieri, and others.

My essay grows out of the work I’m doing for my next book, Attention Equals Life:The Pursuit of the Everyday in Contemporary Poetry and Culture.