Black Mountain College at MSA 17

The Song of the Border-Guard 1952 by Cy Twombly 1928-2011

Cy Twombly (1928-2011). The Song of the Border-Guard, 1952.

The Modernist Studies Association (MSA) hosts its seventeenth annual conference this week in Boston. Among the many events planned are three roundtables on Black Mountain College and a Friday evening trip to the ICA/Boston to take in Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, curated by Helen Molesworth with Ruth Erickson.

Faculty affiliated with the NPF worked closely for over a year with Marjorie Howes, Paige Reynolds, and, especially, Carrie Preston of the MSA host committee and Monica Garza and Ruth Erickson at the ICA/Boston to ensure that conference participants would be in a position to take full advantage of this major exhibition featuring many connections to this year’s themes of “Modernism and Revolution.” Among the presenters at the MSA are several scholars who also participated in the NPF’s recent symposium on Black Mountain College.

R1. Black Mountain College (I): Conceptual Underpinnings
Thursday, Nov. 19, 3:45-5:15
Westin Copley Place, Essex South

Session Organizer: Steve Evans; Chair: Steve Evans.
Featuring Carla Billitteri, Seth Forrest, Stephen Fredman, Elisabeth Joyce, and Roger Rothman.

The first of three roundtables related to the Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957 exhibition at the ICA/Boston. Participants in this roundtable will explore the conceptual and theoretical underpinnings of the College’s pedagogical and artistic practices. Carla Billitteri will connect Alfred North Whitehead’s process philosophy to Charles Olson’s work, especially in The Special View of History. Seth Forrest will trace the shifting aesthetic across art forms at BMC from Albers’s matière to the noise poetics of Cage and Olson. His talk will reference several works on display at the ICA’s Leap Before You Look exhibition, from photographs of artwork produced in Albers’s course to Cage’s Theater Piece No. 1 and Williams Mix to poems by Olson and Larry Eigner to sculpture by John Chamberlain and Robert Rauschenberg. Stephen Fredman will discuss the huge impact of John Dewey, and especially his landmark Art as Experience (1934), on the development of an experiential art at Black Mountain. Fredman will consider the lesser-known dance drama by Charles Olson, “Apollonius of Tyana,” as a manifesto of experiential art. Elisabeth Joyce takes up the issue of “process” and “projectivism” from the perspective of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of “operative intentionality,” which argues that it is essential to “recognize consciousness itself as a project of the world. As destined to a world that it neither encompasses nor possesses, but toward which it never ceases to be directed.” Roger Rothman will discuss John Cage’s “affirmative materialism” as an alternative to a perhaps depleted tradition of “institutional critique,” arguing that “Cage’s work is a model of the sort of rigorous acceptance, whether of good or evil, that can distinguish an affirmative avant-garde from the mainstream practices of institutional critique.” Rothman draws on Jacques Rancière’s reading of Schiller’s Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man, a text that in important ways prefigures Dewey’s Art as Experience. Wherever possible, participants in the roundtable will connect their remarks to the works being displayed and performed as part of the ICA’s exhibition.

R9. Black Mountain College (II): Interdisciplinarity
Friday, Nov. 20, 3:30-5:00pm
Westin Copley Place, Essex Center

Session Organizer: Carrie Preston; Chair: Stephen Fredman.
Featuring Charmaine Cadeau, Mary Ann Caws, Steve Evans, Carrie Noland (*), and Katherine Markoski.

The second of three roundtables related to the Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957 exhibition at the ICA/Boston. Participants in this roundtable will examine the range of interdisciplinary work that Black Mountain College fostered both through its dynamically evolving curriculum and its innovative summer institutes. Charmaine Cadeau will trace MC Richards’ embodied practices as a poet-potter to her scholarship on the Chinese ideogram, Artaud’s idea of theatre as “a kind of unique language—halfway through gesture and thought,” and, eventually, eurythmy. Mary Ann Caws will present on Robert Motherwell’s collage practice, his role as a conduit for bringing Dadaism into the postwar years, and his art pedagogy. Steve Evans will discuss the plans Josef Albers formulated in 1948 to reorganize Black Mountain as an art school—plans that were seriously contemplated but, fatefully, never carried out. Carrie Noland will investigate the ways Robert Rauschenberg’s photographic work informed his decade-long relationship with the Merce Cunningham Dance company, for which he served as Artistic Director. Noland will show how Cunningham came to think of his own choreographic work as a collage of elements, and how he integrated “the photographic” into his conception of movement. Katherine Markoski will address dance as, in poet Charles Olson’s words, “the most forward of the disciplines, focusing on Olson’s encounters with Cunningham and the “Glyph exchange” into which he entered, as a poet, with dancer Katherine Litz, the composer Lou Harrison, and the painter Ben Shahn. In this roundtable, the disciplines of poetry, painting, photography, drama, choreography, and musical composition converge and cross-pollinate around the concept of “gesture” or “the haptic.” Wherever possible, participants will connect their remarks to the works being displayed and performed as part of the ICA’s exhibition, in which this concept of “the haptic” is foregrounded as an explicit curatorial principle of selection and display.

R13. Black Mountain College (III): Dispersed Publishing Networks
Saturday, Nov. 21, 10:30-noon
Westin Copley Place, Rockport

Session Organizer: Benjamin Friedlander; Chair: Roger Rothman.
Featuring Benjamin Friedlander, Kaplan Harris, Benjamin Lee, Brian McAllister, and Alessandro Porco.

The last of three roundtables related to the Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957 exhibition at the ICA/Boston. Participants in this roundtable will explore the dispersed publishing networks associated with the College and the practices of textual scholarship that might best represent them. Benjamin Friedlander will attempt to bring the precise nature of Charles Olson’s accomplishments while at Black Mountain into clearer focus by offering a description of what a volume of Olson’s Black Mountain writings might look like and an account of how the subordinator of genre to chronology might shift the discourse on his work as a whole. Kaplan Harris will discuss “The Mimeo Revolution and the Free Market: Funding Mina Loy, Charles Olson, and Lorine Niedecker for the Jargon Society.” Harris draws on the financial records of the Jargon Society archived at the University at Buffalo to delineate the philanthropic, fundraising, and marketing practices that protected Jonathan Williams’s press from bankruptcy for more than four decades. Benjamin Lee’s presentation seeks to answer the question “What happens to poetry communities after they disperse?” He explores the considerable influence the College exerted after it closed in 1956, touching on communities that coalesced in Gloucester, Manhattan and Brooklyn, San Francisco and Berkeley, and elsewhere. Paying particular attention to Olson’s Maximus Poems and Fielding Dawson’s The Black Mountain Book, Lee emphasizes both the continued pull Black Mountain continued to exert on its former residents and the variability of their response. Brian McAllister, in his contribution, maps interactions, correspondences, and developments of experimental and avant-garde journals through the 1950s and 1960s by looking at exchanges between the American journals Origin (Cid Corman, ed.) and Black Mountain Review (Robert Creeley, ed.), and the Scottish journal Poor. Old. Tired. Horse. (Ian Hamilton Finlay, ed.) in order to chart the development and distribution of various poetic practices. McAllister’s central claim is that by considering the publishing choices, editorial policies, and correspondences within and between these various journals and their editors in tandem with poetic practices throughout this period, we can identify clear lines of development from the predominantly American, Objectivist poetry of Louis Zukofsky, Lorine Niedecker, and others to the international, Concrete poetry that found space in later issues of Finlay’s journal. Alessandro Porco’s remarks will center on the work of two students at Black Mountain who mixed “bad attitude” with “artistic ingenuity,” Jerrold Levy and Richard Negro. Porco situates their jointly composed heteronymic work The Poems of Gerard Legro in terms of its genesis and its relation to the collaborative tradition at Black Mountain before turning to a consideration of the way their employment of heteronymy and pseudonymy indirectly critiqued the pedagogy of both Josef Albers and Charles Olson. Wherever possible, participants will connect their remarks to the works being displayed and performed as part of the ICA’s exhibition.

*Due to the recent events in Paris, where she is based this semester, Carrie Noland’s participation is at this time uncertain.

Acknowledging Our Contributors

We are pleased to announce a new initiative underway here at NPF we will be compiling a digital catalogue of the names of our many valued contributors. We wish to acknowledge those scholars and writers by providing an easily searchable archive of everyone whose writing has ever been published/featured in our academic journals, Paideuma and Sagetrieb, as well as all those who have contributed to our Person and Poet series or other volumes, and finally those who have participated in our summer conferences. The complete archive of Sagetrieb and Paideuma contributors is already available on the Sagetrieb blog (here) and on the Paideuma blog (here). We chose to begin this project with Sagetrieb to commemorate  the release of the journal’s 20th and final volume, published earlier this year. In our initial surveying of our archives (which is still far from complete), we were particularly moved to see the names of so many well-known contributors no longer with us, including Michael Andre Bernstein, Robin Blaser, Robert Creeley, Barbara Guest, Hugh Kenner, A. Walton Litz,
and Mary Ellen Solt, just to name a few. We are filled with gratitude as we look back on the many years worth of contributors; we hope you too will enjoy the chance to look over the names, perhaps including your own.

Please let us know if you notice any errors or omissions. We will continue to update the blog as our archive list grows!

 

 

 

Sagetrieb’s End

As we briefly mentioned back in February, in our announcement of the joint release of Sagetrieb 20/Paideuma 40, Sagetrieb has concluded its run as a scholarly journal, with the work it covered now encompassed by Paideuma. In the coming year we are going to revisit the contents of the journal in celebration of the work done by the hundreds of scholars who contributed to it in its two decades of production. A complete list of contributors is now available at the Sagetrieb blog (here). Below is an excerpt from the introduction to that final issue, explaining our decision and recounting in some of the journal’s history:

With the present volume, Sagetrieb now ceases publication. Burt helped to plan this conclusion and he hoped to see it through; his gathering of new essays on George Oppen was intended for the final issue. The work of the journal will continue, however, as it has for the past half-decade, within the pages of Paideuma, whose expanded mandate since volume 35 has covered all poetry in English from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Yet despite this continuity, the end of the journal will be met with sadness by the scholars it long served, who will remember a time when no other venue was available for their work. That the situation is so greatly improved makes the discontinuing of the journal a bittersweet sign of its success. Today, serious study of H.D., Marianne Moore, William Carlos Williams, the Objectivist poets, the language writers, and other once-marginal individuals and groups can be found in a broad range of journals, including the most prestigious in our discipline. Within this new environment, the maintenance of two journals, never easy, ceased to be necessary. Moreover, the division of subjects between the two, ever evolving, had become quite fuzzy in recent years, fuzzy enough to make a combining of efforts logical as well as thrifty. Our decision to end Sagetrieb (unofficial for some time, as no new issue has appeared since 2006) was difficult to reach, but seems inevitable in retrospect.

Sagetrieb Vol. 1 Issue 2

Sagetrieb Vol. 1 Issue 2

A brief history of the two journals is perhaps in place here. Paideuma was founded in 1972 as the journal of Ezra Pound studies. Under the editorship of the late Carroll F. Terrell, it created a forum for exploring critically and sometimes poetically what Hugh Kenner, at just that moment, was formulating as the Pound era. There was room in those early years for references to the other modernists and to the younger poets indebted to Pound, but their relationship to Pound dominated — little appeared on those figures independent of him. Sagetrieb was thus formed in 1982 to provide an ampler forum for exploring the Poundian version of modernism and what was coming to be called postmodernism (“the poets of the Pound-Williams tradition” as Sagetrieb’s early mastheads put it). As it evolved under Burt’s editorship, however, Sagetrieb delineated a field of study for which Pound alone could not account — a point touched on by Kaplan Harris in his reflections on the journal, published here as part of this final issue. With Paideuma’s own, recent evolution away from a single-author focus, Sagetrieb’s vision of the field became, de facto, Paideuma’s as well. What began, then, as an elaboration of the Paideuma project became, in the end, a corrective to it, producing as its final achievement a changed Paideuma with a more capacious view.

In retrospect, the turning point came in 1993, at the first of our decades-themed conferences, on the poets of the 1930s generation, dubbed “The First Postmodernists.” For four days in Maine, the writers of Paideuma and Sagetrieb engaged in a shared dialogue that crossed and recrossed the lines of commitment defining the two journals, implicitly calling into question the need for such boundaries. Ten years down the road, in volume 32 of Paideuma, then-editors Laura Cowan and Joseph Brogunier registered some of the implications of that dialogue, revising the journals’ mandates: Paideuma would thenceforth expand to cover all the modernists of the Pound era and Sagetrieb would be a journal devoted to the postmodern. In the long term, however, this would not prove a workable distinction. Quite apart from the arbitrariness of the line dividing the two literary periods or the fact that so many of the earlier figures worked well into and even past the lifetimes of the later ones, there was an insistent need for scholarship in which the two periods were taken up together. This holistic if not totalizing impulse kept faith in its way with the journal’s original inspiration, Pound’s poem containing history. Even the name Paideuma points toward a productive engagement with these tangled periods. As Pound notes in the text we print on the inside cover of each issue, the word Paideuma denotes “the tangle or complex of the inrooted ideas of any period” — and “period” itself is surely one of those ideas. Taken together, Paideuma and Sagetrieb describe a single epoch, the long twentieth century, now extended into the twenty-first. The plethora of that epoch is the proper subject of the new Paideuma, and this has been its mandate since volume 32.

 

Nathaniel Mackey Awarded 2014 Ruth Lilly Prize

 

Nathaniel Mackey & Penelope Creeley at the Orono 80s conference.  Photo (c) Star Black 2012.

Nathaniel Mackey and Penelope Creeley at the ’80s conference in Orono. Photo (c) Star Black 2012.

Hearty congratulations to Nathaniel Mackey, awarded the 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize! The announcement came a few months ago, but the current issue of Poetry magazine has “made it new,” featuring a “Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize Portfolio” (link). The portfolio includes an essay on Mackey’s poetry by Don Share (link) and five Mackey poems (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Nathaniel Mackey was one of the keynote poets at our summer 2012 conference Poetry and Poetics of the 1980s (link). His reading for us was phenomenal. We also had the pleasure hearing Mackey read in the fall of 2003 as part of the New Writing Series, hosted here at the University of Maine.

Celebrating Sagetrieb

sag-1-11

Cover for the first issue of Sagetrieb, Spring 1982

Our next publication, about which more news will soon follow, is a Festschrift for the late Burton Hatlen, guest edited by Demetres Tryphonopoulos, combining Paideuma 40 and Sagetrieb 20. The latter journal has been dormant for several years, its planned last issue left languishing when Burt fell ill; but Sagetrieb deserved a better conclusion than this mere petering out, and we are pleased that our celebration of Burt’s life and work will include a version of his last editorial project: a collection of essays on George Oppen. The Festschrift also includes an essay on Sagetrieb by Kaplan Harris, acknowledging the good work performed by the journal and the end of the era in which that work was performed.

In the coming weeks, as we await the arrival of the Festschrift, we will celebrate Sagetrieb by noting some highlights from the issues. Their tables of contents and covers can be seen at our Sagetrieb blog (link).

This celebration of Sagetrieb will be informal and improvisational, ranging freely across the run of the journal in no particular order — we’ll be pulling issues off the shelf at random, so to speak. But to get things started, here are a few choice sentences from the inaugural issue, from the section titled “The Biographer.”

Cid Corman remembering Louis Zukofsky:

Like Olson he wanted to play teacher and critic to me. And as with Olson — I balked. It has simply been a thing with me to do my own dirty work.

Fielding Dawson with respect to Charles Olson:

He wanted to be used the way he liked — with advance warning. He wanted what he wanted in the way he wanted. I bet his mom spoiled him.

Grattan Freyer, from “Montale and His Friends”:

On one occasion it was announced at the Giubbe Rosse that everyone would take the day off and go for a walk in the country. I pictured a twelve-mile hike at the very least. We walked, six or eight of us, about three-and-a-half miles out of Florence to a little country inn, where we all ate an enormous meal in the open air. The conversation en route to the inn was about what we would find to eat there, and on the way back about what we had eaten.

Freyer’s essay ends with two translations, one of Montale made with the poet’s help, a lovely version of “Eastbourne”:

“God save the King” intone the trumpets
from a pavilion erected on piles
which line the passage of the sea as it rises
obliterating footprints
of horses in the wet sand
of the shore.

Coldly a wind assails me,
but a shimmering lights up the windows
and the whiteness of mica in the rocks
glistens.

BANK HOLIDAY . . . The long wave of my life
slides back
escaping, too sweetly, declining.
It grows late. Noises fall apart,
closed in softness.

They go in bath-chairs the mutilated,
accompanied by long-eared dogs,
children unspeaking, or dotards. (Perhaps
tomorrow all will seem a dream.)
And you too
will come, prisoner voice, liberated
spirit wandering,
bleeding voice, lost and given again
to my evening.

As a hotel-door revolves on its sections
brilliantly
— another responds with returning beam —
a merry-go-round enthralls me, which overturns
everything within its circle. My homeland!
I listening recognize your breathing,
I too stir myself and the day is thick with living.

Everything will seem in vain: even the power
which in its blinding flux brings together
the living and the dead, the trees and the breakers
and unwinds itself from you, for you. the holiday
has no pity. The band
blares out again while in the early darkness
a grace unfolds itself unarmed.

Conquering evil . . . The wheel does not rest . . .
You also knew about it, light-in-darkness.

On the burning land, whence you are
vanished at the first stroke of the bells, remains
only an enormous burning brand for what once was
BANK HOLIDAY.

NPF 80s Conference | Evening Keynotes

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Thursday, June 28, 8PM in Minsky Recital Hall
Plenary Poetry Readings by Susan Howe and Charles Bernstein

Friday, June 29, 8PM in Minsky Recital Hall
Plenary Lectures by Marjorie Perloff and Kevin Killian

Saturday, June 30, 8PM in Minsky Recital Hall
Plenary Poetry Readings by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge and Nathaniel Mackey

Free & open to the general public. 

If you have a disability that may require accommodation for a conference-related event, please contact Ann Smith in the office of Disability Support Service, 121 East Annex, 581-2319 (Voice) or 581-2311 (TDD).