Close Encounters of the Poetic Kind
Close Encounters of the Poetic Kind

Charles Bernstein
Fall 1991
English 633 [Modern Poetry]
Comp Lit 716
Thursday 12:30 - 3:10 (438 Clemens)

Course requirements are flexible and interactive, aiming to catalyze the readings and discussions in the context of a "workshop", ie working, relation to the reading. By "reading workshop" I mean I want to explore the ways in which poems may or can be read, interpreted, performed, engaged with: the seminar is directed toward sampling (or inventorying) a variety of poetic textures and investigating ways of locating or recognizing these textures (atmospheres, shapes, valences, forms, structures, prosodies . . .). For each seminar, please write a short response to that week's assignments in the form of imitations, parodies, excursus, recitations, performances, appropriations, as well as critical, textural or theoretical comments. The "Reading Through" list that begins the "Experiments" provide some alternative modes of poetic "response". You're encouraged to experiment with a variety of poetic forms suggested by the readings and discussions. (These response papers are useful when guests are visiting too.) Xerox copies for the whole group and distribute them at the beginning of each session. Please leave a copy in my mailbox the day before or bring it into my office by 11:00 Thursday morning, if this is possible.

The term assignment is to write an essay on one of the poets discussed or to review a book of poetry published in the last couple of years (with the idea of sending this review out for publication), or . . . Let me know what you plan to.
Occasional reports on "supplemental" readings (particularly related to independent research) will be requested. An important focus of the seminar will be on teaching modernist and contemporary poetry to undergraduates: both teaching methods and curriculum will be addressed.


TL-Talking Leaves
PR-Poetry Room/420 Capen
On Reserve-Lockwood 3-day reserve
X-xerox handout

1/2. (August 29, Sept. 5) Experiments

3/4. (September 12, 22) New York School
John Ashbery -- Flow Chart (required at TL & on reserve) --misc X
Barbara Guest -- Fair Realism (required at TL & PR)
Georgio DeChirico -- Hebdomeros (recommended at TL & on reserve)
Supplemental: James Schulyer, Joseph Ceravolo (esp Fits of Dawn),
Frank O'Hara, Tony Towle, Charles North, Paul Violi, Ron Padgett,
Joe Brainard, Ted Berrigan, Raymond Roussel (How I Wrote Certain of My Books, Locus Solus)

5. (September 25) Nicole Brossard
Picture Theory (required at TL), Mauve Dessert (recommended at TL); plus numerous titles in Lockwood and Poetry Room -- see esp. A Book.
Note Brossard reading Weds 9/24 at 4. Brossard will be present in this "open" seminar.

6. (October 6): Second Wave Modernists I
Zukosky's Complete Short Poems (recommened at TL, also on reserve): also X.
Robert Creeley will lead this seminar in my absence.

7. (October 10) Contemporary British Poetry
Tom Raworth -- Tottering State (required at TL, also PR); John Bartell article (X)
J. H. Prynne -- Collected Poems (required at TL, also on reserve), Emphatical Poetry (X)
Veronica Forrest Thomson (X)
Tom Raworth will sit in October 10; he reads at 4 Oct. 9

8. (October 17) Second Wave Modernists II -- Les Objectivistes:
Zukofsky -- X ("A"-9 & 11 plus essays)
Oppen -- Collected Poems (required at TL and on reserve)

9. (October 24) Lyn Hejinian will read Oct. 23 at 4.
On Thurs: 11-12:00: informal reception and conversation with Lyn Hejinian (bring lunch); followed at 12:00 with Open Seminar with Hejinian on "The Poetics of Knoweldge -- Writing as a Process of Exploration"; seminar ends at 2:00.
Hejinian: The Cell and Oxota (one of the two required at TL), plus titles in Poetry Collection; X: three essays.

10. (October 31): Second Wave Modernists III -- Reznikoff Collected Poems, Testimony (recommended at TL; on reserve)

11. (November 11): Second Wave Modernists IV -- Laura Riding.
The Collected Poems (required at TL)

12. (Nov. 14) Lorenzo Thomas will read (Nov. 13 at 4) and on Thurs. at 12:30-1:30 give a talk in 608 Clemens on Tolson and Baraka, followed by a discussion for the remainder of the seminar in 438 Clemens.
Melvin Tolson: A Gallery of Harlem Portraits, Harlem Gallery Pt 1
Baraka/Jones: Thunder Mouth Collection (recommended at TL)
Lorenzo Thomas: Chances Are Few, The Bathers (recommended at TL & PR) plus X of two essays on Baraka.

13. (Nov. 21) Second Wave Modernists V -- Harlem Renaissance in Context
Sterling Brown -- Complete Poems (recommended at TL and on reserve)
Jean Toomer -- Collected Poems (on reserve)
Langston Hughes -- Montage of a Dream Deferred (PR)
Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, ed. Honey [recommended at TL and on reserve) (esp Helene Johnson, Anne Spencer, Gwendolyn Bennet, Mae Cowdery).

14. (Decembmer 5) Last Class

Summary of books at TL:

John Ashbery -- Flow Chart (required)
Barbara Guest -- Fair Realism (required)
Georgio DeChirico -- Hebdomeros (recommedned)
Nicole Brossard -- Picture Theory: required & Mauve Dessert:recom
Zukosky's Complete Short Poems (recommened)
Tom Raworth -- Tottering State (required)
J. H. Prynne -- Collected Poems (required)
George Oppen -- Collected Poems (required)
Lyn Hejinian -- The Cell & Oxota (one of the two required)
Reznikoff -- Collected Poems, Testimony (recommended)
Laura Riding -- The Collected Poems (required)
Lorenzo Thomas -- Chances Are Few, The Bathers (recommended)
Baraka/Jones -- new Thunder Mouth Collection (recommended)
Sterling Brown -- Complete Poems (recommended)
Women Poets of the Harlem Renaissance, ed. Honey [recommended]