English 285.301
Close Encounters: Contemporary Poetry, Poetics, Prose
Charles Bernstein
Tuesdays, 3 to 6pm in Rm. 111, 3808 Walnut Street
Office hourse by appointment

E-mail: Charles.Bernstein@English.Upenn.Edu

Requirements for the seminar are in a separate document linked here.

Poetry in Philadelphia: KWH Schedule / Ron Silliman's Philadelphia Progressive Poetry Calendar

Books required at the Penn Book Center:
David Antin, A Conversation with Charles Bernstein
David Antin, Talking
Kenneth Goldsmith, Day
Lyn Hejinian,My Life
Lyn Hejinian,The Language of Inquiry University of California Press
Bob Perelman, Ten to One, Selected Poems
Peter Straub, Lost Boy/Lost Girl
Susan Stewart, Columbarium


1. (Jan. 13): Introduction
Continuing for next week: run the Poem Profiler "self-test" (password required) and comment on what the results suggest about your preferences and judgments.

2. (Jan. 20) Bob Perelman Discussion
Intro: Steve Evans on Perelman from DLB (password protected)
Bob Perelman, from Ten to One: "An Autobiography," (p. 4) from "A.K.A". (p. 34), "Anti-Oedipus" (p. 63). "Oedipus Rex" (p. 79), "The Marginalization of Poetry" (p. 139), "Money" (p. 157), "A Literal Translation of Virgil's Fourth Eclogue" (p. 169). "The Manchurian Candidate: A Remake," (p. 187), "Chaim Soutine" (p. 200)
New draft essay by Perelman: "The New and its Reproductive Practices: New Writing and School" (password needed)
*Run the Poem Profiler on two of Perelmans' poems.
*Questions for interview: write four or five questions you would like to ask Perelman as part of the taped session on Jan. 27..
*What is most interesting to you about Perelman's essay? How does it related to his poems? What suggestions for changes would you make?
Some questions you might consider in writing a notebook response to the reading:
*What is the role of voice and autobiography in these poems?
*How does Perelman use found material or literary allusions/sources?
Wreading Experiments:
Imitations: try to imitate the form of two of Perelman's poems-- write an autobiography composed completely of sentences selected from found sources; write a "new-sentence" style piece, composed of various found sources, similar to "A.K.A."; rewrite a myth or movie in the style of Perelmans' Oedipus or Manuchurian Candidate.

Wed., Jan. 21, 4:30pm: Susan Bee and Charles Bernstein: Painting/Poetry/Collaboration at KWH

3. (Jan. 27) Perelman Visit
Finish Ten to One
Prepare/reformulate one question and possible follow-ups for interview.
What are your favorite / least favorite of Perelman's poems? Why?
Do you see a chronological development in the poems as presented in Ten to One. Discuss.
What is the role of humor/irony in the poems? Are these poems comic, ironic, or satiric? Is this question ironic?
Wreading Experiments: see assignments for Jan. 20 or use Wreading Experiments list.

4. (Feb. 3) -- Nara: We will meet at the Nara show at the ICA at 3pm. (The museum is not open to the public on Tuesdays.)
Go to the Nara show at the ICA. Note the ICA is open Wednesday through Friday, 12 p.m. - 8 p.m; Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.;
and that the ICA is closed Monday and Tuesday.
Look at the images and read the texts in the CD-ROM that will be distributed at least one week before class. (IF you do not have this CD-Rom by Jan. 27, please email me immediately.)
Write a poem or set of poems or creative prose work or essay or set of such in response to specific images of Nara. Create new and different text/captions for this work.
Continue your notebook/journal responses: discussing in detail some of the work, the relation of image to text, the relation of Nara's work to cartoons, the socio-historical context of his work (postwar Japan); the sensibility: humorous? freakish? sarcastic? gothic?
Back at Rm. 111 by 4:30pm, we will spend the second half of the class talking about your semester project.
Post to the list a proposal for the semester project. We will go over each proposal in class. If possible, try to provide a short sample of what you have in mind.
Plus: what was your response to Perelman's visit.

Saturday, February 7 at 7 PM: kari edwards & Ron Silliman, La Tazza, 108 Chestnut, 215-922-7322

5. (Feb. 10) Lyn Hejinian Discussion
Listen to the LINEbreak interview via Hejinian's EPC home page (link above).
Intro: Juliana Spahr on Hejinian from Gale/DLB (password required).
Read My Life and in The Language of Inquiry --"A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking," "La Faustiane," and "Happily"
Perloff on Happily
In preparation for Hejinian's visit, write five questions you would like to ask in the interview.
Discuss the relation of My Life to conventional autobiography and also to a poem such as Perelman's "An Autobiography". Detail the structure of the poem. How does the same phrase take on different meanings in different contexts.
What is Hejinian's attitude to knowledge in "La Faustiane"?
What is the style of "A Thought Is the Bride of What Thinking"? Why is it written in this way?
Is "Happily" happy? Discuss the form of this work.What is the relation of thought. thinking, and writing in this and other Hejinian works.
Wreading Experiments: Write a work in the manner of "My Life" and in the manner of "Happily". Write a "poetics" statement.
Take a look at the My Life blog. What's going on?

6. (Feb.17) Peter Straub discussion
"Pork Pie Hat" (excerpt from collection Magic Terror)
Lost Boy, Lost Girl: parts one and two
Linebreak interview with Straub (via EPC Straub page)
Paula Gurin Omni_online Interview
"45 Calibrations for Raymond Chandler" (EPC Straub page)
article on Straub

For the first part of the class, we will review semester projects -- with reports on progress/plans from all.
For notebook/journal: comment on some of the issues that come up in my interview with Straub, for example the issues surrounding the difference between "genre" writing and non-genre fiction. Does this distinction hold-up? What is the criteria? Is there a difference in quality?
Discuss Straub's style: what are the qualities of the individual sentences, the narrative flow?
Wreading: pick two from list and apply.

7. (Feb. 24) Peter Straub visit
Finish Lost Boy Lost Girl
Immediately after finishing go to http://lostboylostgirl.com/
Straub's web site
Philadelphia Inquirer review of Lost Boy Lost Girl
The Guardian
By Sunday afternoon: Submit to listserv five questions for Peter Straub -- we can then coordinate the discussion over the list.
Continue journal responses to Straub.
Comment on the Hejinian visit (post to list)
Wreading: pick two more from list and apply.

8. (March 2) David Antin discussion
From Antin EPC page: listen to "The Principal of Fit": Try to transcribe a bit of "The Principal of Fit" before going on with this week's assignment.
Intro: Ken Sherwood on Antin from DLB (password protected)
Marjorie Perloff intro to Talking
Talking: "Talking at Pomona"
Talking: "The November Exercises"
A Conversation with David Antin / Charles Bernstein
Comment on the Straub visit (post to list)
Are Antin's works poems? What is the role of performance in these works?
What is the connection between speech and writing for Antin?
What's the difference between talking and reading Antin's work
Discuss "The November Exercises"
Wreading: tape yourself talking, transcribe
Make a new poems from phrases selected from one of Antin's talks.

Wednesday March 3, 6 PM: Ecopoetics panel, with Tina Darragh, Marcella Durand & Jonathan Skinner, hosted by Paige Menton, Kelly Writers House

9. (March 16): Antin Visit
Note: Antin will be doing a talk on Thurs. March 18 in Temple's series. Information forthcoming: but try to get to this.
Antin will meet for an in-class discussion 3 to 4:45 and then we will move to KWH for a talk/discussion from 5 to 6.
By Sunday afternoon, submit several questions for Antin to the listserv, so we can organize interview.
Listen to "War" via EPC page
"talking at blerancour"t via EPC page
Finish Talking
Continue journal responses and wreading exercises, as suggested for March 2.

10. (March 23) Hejinian discussion (2)
For the first half of the class we will being by discussing the Antin visit and also also any wreading assignments or projects-based work you would like to have the group consider. Please bring in copies of something you want to read and discuss in class (including wreading responses to Antin or Hejinian). For the second part of the class, we will discuss Hejinian's work.
Hejinian's (planned) script for Studio 111 reading. (Please bring print-out to class).
EPC page: listen to the reading of "The Cell". Transcribe one section, without looking at any text for this section.
"Eleven Eyes", from "The Cell", the Dworken interview, "Continuing Against Closure" from EPC home page
The Language of Inquiry: "The Rejection of Closure," "Two Stein Talks", "Comments for Manuel Brito", "A Common Sense" (suggested: or read around till you finish)
What is the relation of Hejinian's poetics to her poems? What is the role of poetics?
What difference does it make that Hejinian is a female writer? How does this manifest itself, if at all, in the style of the work?
Thinking of listening to "The Cell"; one more time: What is the relation of thought, thinking, and writing in this and other Hejinian works.
Discuss the experience of listening to "The Cell" versus reading one of Hejinian's poems. Discuss the quality of the reading in as much detail as possible: timbre of voice, pace, mood.
Comment on the Antin visit (post to list).

11. (March 30):Susan Stewart Discussion
Columbarium: "Shadow Georgics"
Interview (from Free Verse)
"On the Art of the Future" (essay) from a UC-Berkeley conference on "The Arts in Question"
What does Stewart see as the role of art in her essay "The Art of the Futurue"? How can a poem be like a face? Relate your answer to a specific poem in Stewart.
Compare "Bees" (p. 28) Virgils's Georgics IV.281-314; see also the Latin
Compare "Weather" (p. 96) Virgils's Georgics I 351-423 and the Latin
What does Stewart see as the role of art in her essay "The Art of the Futurue"? How can a poem be like a face? Relate your answer to a specific poem in Stewart.
Compare Stewart's work with that of Hejinian and Perelman
Discuss Stewarts's use of Virgil compare to Perelman's.
Run the poem profiler on two Stewart poems
Detail the visual images in one of Stewart's poems1111
Do a homophonic translation of a Latin Georgic (see experiments list for explanation)
Do a homolinguistic translation of one of Stewart's poems.(see experiments list for explanation)
Note: At 4:45pm we will break and reassemble at 5 at kWh to attend the reading of Shirley Kaufman/KHW listing //: interview with author (and see link to poems on the left)

12. (April 6) Kenny Goldsmith discussion
Explore the basic structures of Goldsmith's books: Fidget, Head Citations, 73 Poems, Soliloquy, No. 111 2.7.93-10.20.96 and Day (for first glossing, spend not more than 15 minutes on each of these works!)
Prepare five question for Goldsmith's visit next week.
What difference does it make that Goldsmith is a male writer? How does this manifest itself, if at all, in the style of the work?
Catalog the structure of each of the works listed.
What's the worst thing you can say about Goldsmith's work?
What's the best thing you can say about Goldismith's work?
Contrast the work of Kenny Goldsmith and Kenny G.
Wreading: Create works in the spirit of KG.

13. (April 13) Goldsmith Visit
read Goldsmith's Day
Explore Ubu
Listen to Kenny G's show on WFMU
3 to 3:30 pm: reports and discussion of final projects
3:39 to 4:30pm Studio 111 discussion with Kenny
5pm: Goldsmith Performance at KHW
Comment on / extend dicussion of Goldsmith
Wreading: Create works in the spirit of KG.

14. (April 20) Susan Stewart Visit
3 to 4:30pm: Stewart Visit
By Sunday afternoon, submit several questions, or questions and follow-up, for Stewart.
Continue with the responses/experiments to Stewart from March 30. Discuss her poetics as well.
Comment on the Goldsmith visit.
4:45: discussion/presentation of final projects