Contemporary Avant-Garde Poetry Symposium

December 7, 1999

Contemporary Avant-Garde Poetry Symposium featuring Ron Silliman, Jena Osman, Bob Perelman, and Brian Kim Stefans.

See the Kelly Writers House calendar entry for this event.


JENA OSMAN's book, THE CHARACTER, published by Beacon (1999), is the winner of the 1998 Barnard New Woman Poets Prize. "Her writing is the way the mind works," wrote Leslie Scalapino of this book. Jena's publications include JURY (Meow Press, 1996), Amblyopia (Avenue B, 1993) and poems appearing in Abacus, Avec, Big Allis, Conjunctions, O-blek, Subliminal Time and elsewhere. With Juliana Spahr, Jena is the editor of the influential magazine Chain. She has read at the Writers House for PhillyTalks and on "Live at the Writers House." She is assistant professor of English at Temple University.

BOB PERELMAN recently published THE FUTURE OF MEMORY, a new book of verse, and his selected poems, TEN TO ONE. For many years Bob lived in San Francisco where he edited Hills magazine and was central to the development of the language poetry movement. From 1977 to 1981 he coordinated the San Francisco Talks Series and edited Writing/Talks (1985) gathered from the series. His books of poetry include Braille (Ithaca House, 1975), Face Value (Roof Books, 1988), and Virtual Reality (Roof Books, 1993). He is also the author of two books of theory and criticism, The Trouble with Genius (University of California, 1994), and The Marginalization of Poetry (Princeton, 1996). Now of course he lives in Philadelphia, where he is an Associate Professor of English at Penn. Bob is a member of the Writers House "hub" or planning committee.

BRIAN KIM STEFANS is the author of Free Space Comix (Roof, 1998), Gulf (Object Editions, 1998) and the forthcoming Angry Penguins (Harry Tankoos). His collaboration with Sianne Ngai, "The Cosmopolitans," was featured as the second issue of the zine Interlope published out of Iowa City. His works have also appeared in many magazines, including the concrete poetry site Ubuweb (, and the e-zine Jacket (, under the pseudonym Roger Pellett. Brian published three issues of the journal Arras before taking it to the web in 1998. His critical writings have been published in Korean Culture and The Poetry Project Newsletter, and a long essay on alternative Asian American poetry is to appear in Talisman. Brian participated in a PhillyTalks program at the Writers House last year.

Among RON SILLIMAN's many important writings are Ketjak (This, 1978); Tjanting (The Figures, 1981); "The New Sentence" (Roof, New York, NY, 1987); the anthology "In the American Tree" (1986); Leningrad, a collaboration with Michael Davidson, Lyn Hejinian, and Barrett Watten (1991); Demo to Ink (Chax, 1992); Toner (Potes & Poets, 1992); N/O (Roof, 1994) and recently "(R)" (Drogue). The earliest published poems Ron doesn't mind listing appeared in issue number 1 of _Community Libertarian_ on May Day, 1965; and "One, Two, Three Hands Clapping" in the first issue of Avalanche (Berkeley) in 1966. Long a resident of San Francisco, Ron now resides near Valley Forge, PA, a point from which he make regular trips to the Kelly Writers House where he has led and joined PhillyTalks, read "Albany" on "Live at the Writers House" (available HERE) and supported many emerging writers.

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