English 795 Comp Lit 622
Charles Bernstein

Fall 2018

The “blank” seminar is an occasion for exchange among participants. There will no pre-existing syllabus. Each meeting will be animated by the concerns of those present, extended into an active listserv discussion between meetings.  Participants will determine the course of the discussion and reading week to week, posting their own work and suggested reading. A few sessions will be devoted to workshopping essays by participants, perhaps going over a single paragraph in depth and considering alternatives, as in Queneau's Exercises in Style. The open-ended discussion will range from the political and cultural moment, pedagogy (wreading experiments, poem profiler), as well as historical and contemporary particulars of poetry and poetics. Collaborations welcome.

An ongoing theme will be negative dialectics and the poetics of blank in its many and shifting senses. "Nothing is the force that renovates the world." Perhaps together we can make "nothing happen."

Blank though it's called, some events are scheduled.

1. First meeting August 28. FBH 222. 6pm to 8:50pm.
2. Sept. 4 BLANK
3. Sept. 11 BLANK
4. Sept. 18 BLANK
5. Sept. 25: We will attend the launch/reading for David Bromige's if wants to be the same as is: The Essential David Bromige at the Kelly Writers Housem at 6pm. We will continue on at KWH Room 202 with "blank.
6. Oct. 2 BLANK
7. Oct. 9 We will attend Penn Book Center event for Eileen Myles and Renee Gladman at 6, then return to FBH.
8. Oct. 16 BLANK
[Rae Armantout Oct. 17 at 6 at KHW]
[Disability Poetics Oct. 18, organized by Orchid Tierney and Ari Resnikoff]

9. Oct. 23: Douglas Kearney will be speaking at KWH as part of Davy Knittle's City Plannng Poetics series. Kearney will be joined by Brian Goldstein. Kearney will stay on to talk with us and Davy will also fill us in on his approch to poetics and urban planning. Kearney reads the night before at KWH. We will say on with Kearney at KWH, returning to the Arts Cafe.
PDF sent by email.

10. Oct 30 Norbert Lange at KWH. We will likely work on a collective translation with Lange after his reading, as we will stay on with him at KWH. Coordinated with Adam Sax. Lange, German poet and translator of Oppen, Rothenberg, and me will read at 6 and join us, after the reading, in the Arts Cafe, at which time we can possibly doing a group translation or otherwise talk about the poetics of translation.

[Nov. 1, noon at KWHL BUILDING ON THE ARCHIVE: PENNSOUND, POETRY AUDIO, AND NEW SCHOLARSHIP IN SOUND STUDIES: Orchid Tierney, Chris Mustazza, Lytle Shaw, and Jason Camelot]

[Sun, Nov, 5, 11-5, with Johsh Shchuster. Slought is pleased to announce "Visualizing Extinction," a public talk by Joshua Schuster on Monday, November 5, 2018 from 6-8:00pm that explores the literary, philosophical, and psychological implications of the extinction of animals.]

11. Nov. 6: BLANK -- Josh Schuster (Penn English PhD from 2007) will join the seminar. I will send out an essay of his by email.

[Nov. 7: Wednesday, 12PM: THE FUTURE OF ECOPOETICS with Evelyn Reilly and Joshua Schuster --in the Arts Cafe. rsvp to: wh@writing.upenn.edu This lunch event features an informal discussion about the past, present, and future of ecopoetics. We will converse about the larger aims of such poetry-- to rediscover environments, to imagine a better world, to describe the world we have, and to push language to its limits. We will talk about some recent poems and some older poems that challenge ecopoetics to account for the world that comes before us and after us.]

[Thursday, 11/8 DESEGREGATION REMIX: 3 WOMEN SING THE BORDERS Text by Janice A. Lowe and Lee Ann Brown, Music by Janice A. Lowe 6:00 PM in the Arts Cafe sponsored by: Creative Ventures, the Creative Writing Program, and a Sachs Visiting Artist Grant rsvp to: wh@writing.upenn.edu or call (215) 746-POEM Inspired by the choreopoems of Ntozake Shange, Desegregation Remix: 3 Women Sing the Borders (text by JANICE A. LOWE and LEE ANN BROWN, music by JANICE A. LOWE) is a multimedia play with live music, a dj, poetry and projection that explores the well-meaning altruism of three friends, women of varied backgrounds who link up to renovate an apartment in Brooklyn for a family of recent immigrants. Emotional brambles surface and intersect when the women, all transplants to New York City, morph into their child/teen selves, meet in the surreal plane and negotiate their shared backgrounds of having lived in the American South in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, as court ordered busing to achieve integration of public schools was taking effect. The second half of the piece is an audience participatory and in-the-moment sound installation interacting with the question: Do you remember a time when you were the only one? Performers include the band Janice Lowe & Namaroon, DJ Manny Ward and vocalist Olithea Anglin. JANICE A. LOWE is the current Fellow in Poetics and Poetic Practice at the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at University of Pennsylvania. Lowe is a composer, poet and vocalizing pianist who creates music-text hybrids. I

[Being rescheduled:. Eric Schmaltz reading/discussion, 6pm, Fisher-Bennett Hall, room 330 (Grad Lounge)]

12. Nov. 13 Eugene Ostashevsky, poet and translator of the OBERU group (Kharmes, Vvedensky) and Alexander Skiddan, will be joing the group as our special guest at FBH 222, hosted also by Kevin Platt. Ostachevsky lives in Berlin but is in New York for this semester. He reads the next day at noon at KWH. Suggested reading: The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi (NYRB Poets, 2017), Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think, tr.(NYRB Poets, 2013) See also pdfs sent by email.

[Weds. Nov. 14, 6pm: Near/Miss launch at Penn Book Center (my new poetry collection]

Nov. 20 NO CLASS

13. Nov. 27
India, "oceanic feeling": pdf
Austin, "back to disasters"

14. Dec. 4


Continuing: Joel, on Emile Benveniste’s Vocabulaire: doc; French original of the Vocabulaire is at Archive.org; "Thémis" chapter in English is here: pdf; see also Benveniste's critique of Saussuare's view of the aribtrary relation of signified/signified: pdf.

Orchid: on Wisher: doc,; on Muniz: pdf; Lucy Walker’s Waste Land: YouTube

Michael: Zurita & intro: doc

Daniel: xenophobia and exopoetics: email and Pound proposal

Cameron: pdf (with intro email embedded)

Nathaniel: pdf (with intro email embedded)


Dec. 5: Eric Schmaltz reads 5pm KHW room 2002




In place of a preface ...

Each member of the group may suggest a set of reading, which will be added here. How -- or if -- we address such suggested reading will be discussed as part of the seminar.
Possible reflections might begin with
My final undergrad class, this semester, Echopoetics
Syllabi 1989-2018
Great Moments in Tache Blanc" & "this poem intentionally left blank"
Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), Un coup de dés 



Dickinson, 1883

Duchamp: Fresh Widow (1920) & 1916-17


Arakawa, Point Blank (Tube, Twisted Tube, Broken Tube), 1968