We begin the day. We could begin anywhere. As Renee Gladman writes in Calamities, “I began the day...” and then again, “I began the day…,” finally bringing us to teaching and its challenges: “I began the day looking up at the whiteboard, wondering how I would do the thing I needed to do. My students were waiting. Robert Frost was their picture of contemporary poetry.”

I titled my undergraduate writing course, “Talking at the Boundaries: Writing about Literature,” after David Antin’s book of the same name (New Directions Press, 1976). Talking at the Boundaries is made up of stitched-together transcriptions of Antin’s improvisatory talks. The book insists on a few things. Antin says, “it is not the work of a professional.” Later: “what kind of professional was Socrates?” [more...]


The reading series

Orchid Tierney, Jacket2


From both a discard and sound studies point of view, then, my work reconsiders the objects of my inquiry — the paraphonotexts — as peripheral, yet critical, cultural data that illuminates the artificial environment of both the reading venue and the reading space. Here, I borrow Al Filreis’s definition of the paraphonotext that includes both the intended prefatory remarks and unintended vocalizations that accompany the reading of a poem.[2]

Daisy Atterbury’s introduction to Rachel Blau DuPlessis’s reading at the Zinc Bar, in New York City, for the Segue Series on October 3, 2013, marvelously exemplifies the kind of critical force that a paraphonotext can produce.

[3] Atterbury’s epistolary address to DuPlessis touches on the gendered, sexual, and literary desires circulating in the latter’s oeuvre. In the context of PennSound’s author and series pages, Atterbury’s letter is framed as a prefatory remark since it’s not currently segmented from DuPlessis’s reading. Yet, if Atterbury had her own author page on PennSound, I wonder if this letter ought to be segmented and included on it. Certainly, it seems clear that Atterbury’s address to DuPlessis destabilizes the borders between preface and the main event, the introducer and the poet, since it produced a delighted reaction in Rachel Blau DuPlessis when she finally took the stage. At any rate, such instances invite us not only to underscore the unique performances of the paraphonotextual object but also to reassess what we consider is the principal ‘event’ in a poetry reading [more ... full link at Jacket2]