English 288
Charles Bernstein
Fall 2003

Revolution of the Word in Context: Modernisms

General Course Description and Requirements

Poetry on the Web
Check out the Electronic Poetry Center ( http://epc.buffalo.edu)
Reading and listening assignments from the web are listed in the syllabus. When an author is listed as at the EPC, go to "author" (epc.buffalo.edu/authors) section and then to the specific poet. Ubuweb is another important source and for Audio, Factory School.. LION has full-text versions of many of the key poets being studied (Williams
, Pound) as well as bibliographic information on others; LION is accessible through the library's electronric resource page. An alternate site that list authors, cited occasionally below, is the American Poetry website, when that is cited go to http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets.htm.

Poetry at Penn and in Philadelphia
The Kelly Writers House, which is part of the new Center for Program in Contemporary Writiting, has many readings and related activities. I will send out notices of readings at KWH and in Philadelphia, via the class listserv; and each of you is also welcome to post such announcements to the list. The best way to appreciate older poetry is to immerse yourself in contemporary poetry, so consider any poetry reading you attend as part of this class and includes reports and comments in your weekly responses and on the list.

Required Books at Penn Book Center:
American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, vol.1, from The Library of America (LOA)
Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp by Pierre Cabanne, tr. Ron Padgett
The Collected Poems, vol. 1, William Carlos Williams
(Note: other required works will be provided on-line.)
For a discussion of the LOA anthology with its main editor, click here.

If you are able to be in New York city by Sept. 14, I recommend the Malevich show, as well as the other shows now up, at the Guggenheim museum. Together, these shows provides an excellent introduction to the visual art of this period.

1. Sept. 4: Introduction

2. Sept. 9: The Old World and the New in England and Ireland
W. B. Yeats (1865-1939): "Lake Isle of Innisfree" "Sailing to Byzantium" and "The Second Coming": LION (via library electronic resources; use title search; printout poems)
Sigfried Sassoon (1886-1967): "Repression of War Experience" and "Blighters" (LION: use title search)
Audio: Yeats reading "Lake Isle of Innisfree" and his comments on the poem; Yeats 1935 comments on the new poetry from the BBC
•Poem Profiler self-test: fill out the profiler in the abtract, to reflect your own preferences
•Use the profiler on Yeats

3. Sept. 11: Second State (European Exursus I)
Mallarmé (1842-1898): Un Coup de Dés (pdf file of the French) (alternate version in html); "Crisis in Poetry" (excerpt, tr. Caws: note that this is the last short except at the bottom of the file, following other material by Mallarmé), "Salut" -- in four versions English); English tr. of "Coup" (via Ubu)
•Use Poem Profiler on Mallarmé
•Contrast Yeats and Mallarmé. Based on your poem profiling self-test, what does this tell you about your preferences?
• Wreading: Try a homophonic translation of Un Coup de Dés (see experiments list #2)

4 & 5. Sept. 16 and 18: Robinson, Masters, Ridge, J. W. Johnson, Handy and American Scene, with a brief detour to English poet A. E. Housman and a sharp turn with Baroness Elsa
LOA to p. 102 (all the poets), plus Housman (1859-1936) untitled poems from A Shropshire Lad (1896), with first lines of: "Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now", "With Rue My Heart is Laden" and "When I Was One and Twenty" (links c/o Bartlebe.com); or use LION and search under "search text" with first line -- and "Housman"); or go to course e-reserve.
• Pick your favorite and least favorite poem of the poets assigned. What is the reason for your selection?
•Which of the poets this week comes the closest to spoken English and which the least (give specific examples)? Is this a value you like or don't like in poetry? How does the approach of Johnson in "The Judgment Day" differ on this score from Masters?
•Pick a poems by Ridge and one other and give a brief summary of their content. How is this summary different from the poem?
•Describe the "form" of a poem by Masters or Robinson, Freytag-Loringhoven, Johnson, or Ridge or the blues form in Handy's lyric. (By form, you can simply note the length of the line and number of lines, kind of words used, emotional tone of the words, the sound conveyed, or any structural or prosodic features of the poem). How does the form of each of these poems contribute to the content? ;
AUDIO: Handy singing "St. Louis Blues" (a transcribed song lyric, not a poem); 15 minutes NPR feature on the song in RealAudio. Also: Johnson's Under the Bamboo Tree (mp3 from Virtual Grammaphone, which has additional information); read the lyric also.
Wreading experiments:
•Write a poem similar to one of Master's poems in Spoon River Anthology, making up your own character.
•Try to imitate one of the poems in the book or a passage from one of the poems by writing something with the identical number of words and structure as the original but substituting words of your own words those in the poem. Compare the two.

6. Sept. 23: A Journey into Genre, or What?
Amy Lowell in LOA
Candadian poet Robert Service's (1874(?)-1958) The Spell of the Yukon (see esp. "The Shooting of Dan McGrew and "The Cremation of Sam McGee" as well as "The Land God Forgot" and "The Call of the Yukon"
Two British poets: Alfred Noyes (1880-1958), "The Highwayman" (Audio: setting/song by Phil Ochs)
John Masefield (1878-1967), "Sea-Fever"
•Go ahead, tead them out loud.
•Discuss the politics of the form and prosody of these poets, with special reference to their being part of the modernist period. In other words, what particular political and social concerns are addressed by each poem and how does their use of form reflect that. How do they "fit" in to a period of wild formal experimentation? Any thoughts on gender issues as reflected in the poems?
•For Lowell, what are the "patterns" in the poem of that title? Give examples of patterns she might have been thinking about in the time the poem was written?
•Reverse the order of the words line for line.
•Try some imitations.
•Comment on your experiments so far: useful?, and, if so, in what way?

7.Sept. 25: Robert Frost, American Icon, or (K)not?
Frost in LOA
Audio: Frost reading "Mending Wall" (realaudio from Factory School)
In what way is Frost different the poets from the preceding couple of classes?
What about Frost and the vernacular? What about the form of Frost's poems?
A question on mood or tone: Is Frost an affirmative/happy poet or more dark/disturbing: site specific poems or passages.
Discuss the audio recording: how does it compare to the printed text?
Wreading Experiments:
•Translate one of the poems into a totally contemporary idiom, incluidng references and diction.
•Acrostic chance: apply a Mac Low acrostic procedure to one poem (see Experiments, #4)

8 & 9. Sept.. 30 Oct. . 2: Gertrude Stein: When This You See Remember Me
"If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso"; & audio at UBU
Tender Buttons (complete) via Stein EPC page (see experpts in LOA)
LOA selections;
"Identity: A Poem"
"Composition as Explanation"
"Five Words in a Line"
"What Are Masterpieces": excerpt
Williams on Stein
Audio: "Valentine for Sherwood Anderson" at UBU
Audio: Stein short interview from Factory School (RA)
Note Stein resources also at UIC.
•Does it make a difference in your reading of the poems by Stein and Amy Lowell that they are by a women or Frost that he is a man? How? If these were written by the other gender, how would that change the meaning?
•Discuss the experience of hearing Stein versus reading her work as a printed text.
•In Stein's Tender Buttons, what are the possible meanings of the title? Why is the section called "objects"? Why is the poem written in a prose format? •Use the parts of the poem profiler on one of the sections of Tender Buttons to aid you assessing the form and tone. For Lowell, what are the "patterns" in the poem of that title? Give examples of patterns she might have been thinking about in the time the poem was written? How does Stein's work relate to Lowell's "Patterns"?
•In Stein's Tender Buttons, what are the possible meanings of the title? Why is the section called "objects"? Why is the poem written in a prose format? •Use the parts of the poem profiler on one of the sections of Tender Buttons to aid you assessing the form and tone.
•Write a poem using a vocabulary of 6-8 words only as in "Very Fine is My Valentine"
•Try to write a Tender Buttons-style poem.

10.Oct. 7: Poetry and Social Struggle, or the 30s forever: Sandburg, Hill, Lindsay and more; also: Hartley, Arensberg, Marquis, Crapsey
LOA pp. 217-290, plus John Reed, pp. 725-26
Audio: Lindsay's "The Congo": 1,  "The Congo": 2,   "The Congo": 3 (Lindsay author page), Sandburg: "Fog", "Cool Tombs" and "The Windy City"; "The People, Yes" (RealAudio from Factory School); Joe Hill, "The Preacher and the Slave (RealAudio via NPR). Related to this is
Alfred Hays (1911 - 1985) (with music by Earl Robinson) -- lyric to "Joe Hill" (1936); sung by Paul Robeson (medimogul). Also Phil Ochs's 1968 tribute to Joe Hilll.(mp3) and lyric
Give your five favorite poets/poems and five least favorite so far this semester? What are the criteria for your choices?
Compare each poet in terms of familiar language/unfamiliar language: give examples.
Marsden Hartley
is primarily known as a painter (see images via link): do you see any reflection of that in his work? ("New Mexico Landscape," from 1919 work, is in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.)
•Discuss Lindsay's "Congo" in terms of its political and racial forms and contents; what is the social meaning of the rhythms.
•How does Sandburg's populism hold up in the early 21st century? What values is he articulating through his poems and what poetic devices does he use to achieve this?
•Negation/Opposites: Negate every phrase or sentence in the poem or in some way substitute opposite words for selected words in the source text: "I went to the beach" becomes "I went to the office"; "I got up" becomes "She sat down"; "I will" become "I will note", etc.
•Write a poltical poem on a current issue.

11.Oct. 9: Wallace Stevens and the Imagination of Imagination
Stevens in LOA (Due to time limitations, we will probably only discuss "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," "The Idea of Order at Key West," "The Plain Sense of Things," and "No Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself"
Further reading: "An Ordinary Evening in New Have" (via LION) (not required!)
Al Filreis's Stevens web page.
Audio: Stevens, "Idea of Order at Key West" (c/o Academy of American Poets Stevens page). See also Jim Andrews's fantasia on the Steven's audio.
Pick your favorite Stevens poem:: describe the sound of each (use the Profiler, without necessarily filling it out). What is the relation of the sound to the poem's theme or point-of-view?
•Take one, two or three different poems and cut each somewhere in the middle, then recombine with the beginning parts following the ending parts.
•Write in some detail about two or three poems. Detail any literary "devices" used (see Profiler).
•What is the "plain sense of things" in the poem of that title? What is "the thing itself" in "No Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself"? In "The Idea of Order at Key West": who is "she"? What is the idea of order? What is Stevens's sense of "reality"?

12.Oct. 16: LOA 267-425 & 487-504 with special attention to LOY and Anne Spencer.
(See an image of Brancusi's "Golden Bird," the subject of Loy's poem.)
•Compare Stevens, and the poets for class #10 and today in terms of familiar language/unfamiliar language: give examples.
•Detail the visual images in your favorite poems for this week. Then detail the psychological states/evocations in these poems. Which poems are most like someone speaking and which the least? How does that affect the value of the poems.
•Of these poems this week, which are the most conventional and which are the most innovative: give an explanation for your evaluation.
•Discuss the eroticism in Loy's poems. Can you think of any approach related to this in the reading so far?
•What is the point-of-view in Spencer's "At the Carnival"? What is the poem's attitude toward it's subject?
•In addition, compare poems in terms of continuity (hypotactic) / discontinuity (paratactic); fragmented / unified; symmetrical/asymmetrical, smooth flowing / jerky or abrupt movement. Which of the poets this week is the most disjunctive/discursive?
•Write a poem in imitation of Loy.
•Substitution (1) : "Mad libs." Take a poem and put blanks in place of three or four words in each line, noting the part of speech under each blank. Fill in the blanks being sure not to recall the original context.

13.& 14. Oct. 21 and 23: William Carlos Williams: Word for Word
Spring and All in Collected Poems, Vol 1.(Note Williams pages at EPC and
WCW LOA read fulll books
Audio: "Queen Anne's Lace", "The Botticellian Trees" (from Factory School), "To Elsie" (class use only); see aslo other Williams clips at Factory School. and also, for further listeing, for Penn class use only: The Seafarer and The Red Wheelbarrow
See also the Penn symposium on "For Elsie".
Class discussion will focus on "The Young Housewife," "Pastoral" "Queen Anne's Lace," "The Botticellian Trees," "Between Walls", Spring and All, "To Elsie" (e.g., "The pure products of America...).and in that order.
•Why does Williams mix prose and verse in Spring and All?
•How do William's thin lines work? What do they do?
•What do you make of the line breaks in Williams? Compare Loy and Williams to Masters and Robinson in terms of use of everyday spoken language.
•Contrast the experience of reading the poems selected for LOA and the poems in the context of their original publication, as represented by the Collected.
Wreading Experiments:
•In imitation of Williams, write a poem with very short lines OR take a poem with longer lines from the anthology and rebreak the lines in the manner of Williams.
•Write a poem as a note on the refrigerator.
•Write a poems about a single commonplace object.
15./16. Oct. 28 & 30: Ezra Pound: Collage and Personae
: LOA, pp. 505-545; plus A Retrospect and "Moeurs Contemporare" at LION (search under "Moers" and "Pound"), "Cantico del Sole" at Lion
AUDIO: Mauberly (RealAudio from Factory School) & Moeurs Contempoaraines (RealAudio from Factory School), "Canticle del Sole" (same)
Class discussion on "The Seafarer,", "In a Station of the Metro" (see also commentary), "The River-Merchant's Wife" (commentary and other translations.), "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly" and "Moeurs";
16. LOA, pp. 546-583
Canto I, with audio & commentary (RA, Acad American Poets);
Additional AUDIO: Usura (RealAudio Factory School)
Short introduction to Pound by Charles Bernstein
Class discussion: Cantos XXXVI, XLV (Usura; see also commentary), LXXXI (Pisan; see esp hypertext commentary on this poems; also commentary at Modern American Poetry), CXVI (see commentary)
See esp. the Modern American Poetry Page for comments on specific poems.
•Does the hypertext commentary for LXXXI help or hurt?
•What's with all the reference in Pound anyway?
•What is Pound's tone in "Mauberly" and "Moeurs"; have you heard that tone before?
•What about the audio files? What impression do they make?
What is Pound's object of criticism in "A Retrospect"; what poets in the anthology would you think he would like and what poets would he not like?
What's the significance of the Epic for Pound? What's the significance of translation?
•Write a collage poem incorpoarting the poems that make up the course reading together with selected other historical or political material.
•Erasure: Take a poem and cross out most of the words on each poem, retype what remains as your poem

17. /`18: Nov. 4 and 6: European Excursus 3: Visual and Sound Poetry and Futurism
Apolinaire, "Calligrammes" at UBU; follow the link also to the recording of "Le Pont Mirabeau"
Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948) , "Ur Sonota" at Ubu: both sound file and score
Hugo Ball (1886-1927), sound poems at Ubu
F. T. Marinetti, sound and manifestos at Ubu, "Parole in Liberta", and three manifestoes: Futurist Manifesto, "Destruction of Syntax/Words in Freedom", "War, the World Only Hygeine"

Russian Futurist manifesto: "A Slap in the Face of Public Taste"
Velimir Khlebnikov (1885-1922) at UBU
and (handout) "The Word as Such" (with Kruchonykh, 1913) & other essays.
Kruchonyk's visual and zaum poems; see also Gerlad Janecek's essay on Kruchonykh's zaum poetry
Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930), "At the Top of My Voice" and "But Could You" with sound file
Steve McCafffery's brief history of Sound Poetry at Ubu
Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926): "Duino Elegies", 1 and 2, tr. Stephen Mitchell
Further reading: Paul Valery, Alfred Jarry, Max Jacob
•What is your response to these approaches to poetry? In other words, discuss the forms and significance of visual and sound poetry, and of manifestos. •Is Rilke more expressive than the other poets, or is that the approach to expression is different? What does each poem "express"?
•Wreading: create visual or sound poems.

19. Nov.11: HD, Ma Rainey, and the Space Between
LOA, 584 - 656
from Helen in Egypt with audio
Ma Rainey, "See See Rider Blues" (1925) (RealAudio from "Sitting on Top of the World") (or MP3 for classuse only); Rainey is accompanied by Louis Armstrong and Fletcher Henderson (see discography). Multiple versions of the song from Sitting on Top of the World.
Additional audio of Ma Rainey: Southern Blues, Real Audio from Red Hot Jazz'd excellent Rainey site, which has .ram files of much of the Rainy archive.
Audio: Aksel Schiotz singing Oscar Rasbach's setting of Joyce Klimer's "Trees"
•Pick your favorite poems of each author: describe the sound of each (use the Profiler, without necessarily filling it out). What is the relation of the sound to the poem's theme or point-of-view?
•Write in some detail about two or three poems. Detail any literary "devices" used (see Profiler).
•Are any of these poets more or less political than the others. Explain.
•What makes HD's dialogic? What is the tone of her work?
•Compare the Rainey songs to Handy, both in terms of the lyric and the vocal.
•The text provided for Rainey's songs are transcriptions: how do they work in an anthology of mostly written poetry? Can you change improve the transcription of "See See Rider" provided on the web site.
•"See See Rider" has been performed and transformed by singers after Rainy -- discuss this process. Does this happen with written poetry?
Wreading Experiments:
•Burroughs fold in: Take two different pages of poetry and cut the pages in half vertically. Paste the mismatched pages together.
•Write your own blues song.

20. NO CLASS Nov. 13! CLASS POSTPONED till SUNDAY, Nov. 16: European Excursus 4: Duchamp: The Bride Stripped Bare by Its Viewers (Maybe)
Pierre Cabin. Conversation with Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968)
Today's class will meet on SUNDAY at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Duchamp collection at 1pm. Try to get to museum earlier to look at the late Impressionist and Cubist paintings, as well the Duchamp.
•In what way might Duchamps' work be relevant for modernist poetry (apart from the immediate fact of his own literary work)?
Recommended: interview with Ducamp and another interview.

21.& 22. Nov.18 & 20: The Talented Mr. Eliot
Eliot in LOA
"Tradition and the Individual Talent" (part of "The Sacred Wood"); alternate pdf file of essay
Audio: "The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Waste Land" (large MP3 files classuse only) or RealAudio at Facotry School (go to Poetry and Audio Links)
Furhter links: What the Thunder Said

•Use the Poem Profiler to decribe the mood, psychological state, and other features of several poems.
•Discuss "Tradition and the Individual Talent" in terms of the ongoing issues that have been discussed in the class? What is the relevance of Eliot's views for modernist poetry, for American poetry, or for poetry today?
•How does "The Waste Land" relate to other collage works previously read in the class? More generally, what is Eliot doing in common with other poets read so far, what differently?
•Here is the classic potboiler question, your imaginary exam? What are the principal sources used in "The Waste Land"? Go beyond the obvious or listed "literary sources"!
•Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem and translate it "English to English" by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or "free" translation as response to each phrase or sentence.
•Backwards: Reverse or alter the line sequence of a poem. Reverse the word order. Rather than reverse, scramble.

23.Nov.25: Robinson Jeffers and Marianne More
LOA: 658--721
•Pick your favorite poems.
•What is Jeffers's approach to the natural world.
•Detail the visual imagery in a Moore and Jeffers poem. What is the mood or psychological state of three of the Eliot poems? What is the theme of three of the Moore poems?
•Compare the sound of a single poem of three different poets from this week's reading.
•Substitution (2): "7 up or down." Take a poem and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement.

24. Dec. 2: Forms Transformed: from the Blues & Tin Pan Alley McKay's Sonnets
Chaley Patton, "High Water Everywhere" (LOA pp. 722-724) and audio of Patton's performance.
Irving Berlin, "Slumming on Park Avenue" (LOA, pp. 727) and audio of song featuring Ella Fitzgerald
Claude McKay (LOA, pp. 826-832)
Cole Porter (LOA, p. 833): Cole Porter peforming "You're the Top", "Anythng Goes", "Sunday Morning Breakfast Time", and "Everybodee Who's Anybodee"; "Just One of Those Things"(Ella Fitzgerald); "I Get a Kick out of You" (Ethel Merman), "Night and Day" (Aksel Schiotz).
I end the reading with Cole Porter, just before what I call "second wave modernisms" -- which begins pretty much with poets/lyricists born after 1889. •
•How do these songs sound to you when heard in the context of this course? What is their significance, if you find any, in the context of modernist American poetry?
• Thinking of this set of reading/listenings at the end point of the semester, how do your read/hear each of the four -- three song writers and one poet -- in terms of the motifs discussed so far in the course. In other words, what are these four doing differently that would make them into a "second wave"?
None necessary this week or pick one from the past suggestions.
Try transcribing Charlie Patton's song and compare to version in the anthology. Comment.

25. Dec. 4: Last Class
Memorize a poem from the period and recite in class.
Of course, feel free to continue on to the end of the anthology and comment if you like. If I were to continue with the course with these last pages of LOA, which covers poets born through the early 1890s, I would add, outside the U.S., Anna Akhamatova, Groucho Marx, Max Ernst, Osip Mandelstram, Hugh Macdiarmid, Richard Huelsenbeck, Edith Sodergram, Cesar Vallejo, and Vincente Huidobro. But another time.

As a final submission, please give your response to the course, which exercises and assignments you found most helpful, your evaluation of the class discussion, your suggestion for future courses likes this. What did you like least about the course, what most? Thinking back on all the poets, list your overall favorites and state your reason for your preference.