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Charles Bernstein

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In March of last year, the University of Western Ontario hosted a large poetry conference in honor of  Frank Davey, poet, essayist, critic, professor, and long-time editor of one of the key journal of poetics from the past 35 years, Open Letter.

My remarks at the conference began somethng like this:

Frank Davey’s work as a poet, critic, editor, publisher and professor exemplifies both the possibility for the poet-critic in contemporary culture and, at the same time, can be read in terms of an activist approach to poetics, a poetics of errancy, in Smaro Kamboureli’s words from her lecture yesterday . I want here to keep in mind, even without directly addressing, his work with Tish, his editing of Open Letter, and, in terms of my own early connection with Frank, his publication of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Volume 4, which great extended and expanded the social address of our magazine in 1981. At the end of this stage in Frank’s academic career, I want to discuss the value of poetry, poets, and poetics in the academy, specifically in terms of the conference’s great theme -- Poetics and Public Culture – by reconsidering the role and value of poetics in North American society, but also, in academic and literary culture. ...


Open Letter has just released issue 12.8, Spring 2006, guest edited by Melina Baum Singer and Lily Cho. This issue brings together papers presented at the Poetics and Public Culture in Canada Conference (March 3- 6, 2005) held at the University of Western Ontario. Here is the annoucement from the edtitors:

Not since the Longliners Conference, held in 1986 at York University, have we had such a vigorous and extended academic discussion of poetry in Canada. The 1986 conference focused on the long poem as theoretical intervention in our understandings of Canadian literature. The papers and conversations at the 2006 conference reveal a turn away from the specificities of nation and poetic form towards a poetics of social engagement that extends beyond the nation and also into the interiority of public life.

In addition to new poetry from Fred Wah, Daphne Marlatt, George  Bowering, Larissa Lai and Rita Wong, this issue also includes:
"The Poet in the University or the Ends of Sinecure: The Task of  Poetics, the Fate of Innovation and the Aesthetics of Criticism"  Charles Bernstein
"Out of a Bad State: Identity, State and Neoliberal Globalization" Jeff Derksen
"Technologies of the Podium: Montreal Massacre Poetry and the Feminist  Counterpublic" Candida Rifkind
"Ghosting as a Way to Mourn Responsibly in Frank Davey's Elegies: 'Dead  in France' and 'Dead in Canada'" Catherine Bates
"TISH and KOOT" Christian Bok
"Signifying Sappho i the Late Second Millenium, Salt Spring Island" Susan Knutson
"Bilingual Explorations: Reflections on Canadian Poetics" Simona Bertacco
"Modes of the Micropress" Stephen Cain
"Daphne Marlatt's Poetics: What is an Honest Man? And Can there Be an  Honest Woman?" Lynette Hunter
"Thinking On Poetics" Frank Davey

The issue can be ordered from
Open Letter

102 Oak Street
Strathroy, On N7G 3K3

$10.00 International (US $ checks OK)
$8.00 Canada

[March 9, 2006]

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