English 269 / COML 281
Charles Bernstein
Spring 2018
T/Th 1:30-2:50

Revolution of the Word: Modernist American Poetry and Poetics 1900-1945.


PLEASE EMAIL ME IMMEDIATELY if you find a broken link.

For syllabus start, click here


First things to do
subscribe to the course Discussion list (via Google groups): spoon-river
email to list: spoon-river -- @ --

pick three poets to respond to at beginning of seminar and email me names

Required Book (at Penn Book Center)
The New Anthology of American Poetry: Modernisms 1900-1950, Vol. 2, ed. Steven Gould Axelorod, Camille Roman, and Thomas Travisano; Rutgers University Press: Note VOL. 2!
(on-line; some copies at Penn Book Center)

Note: Much of the reading is on-line, not from the anthology.
Recommended: Modernisms: A Literary Guide by Peter Nicholls 

1. (Jan. 11) Introduction

Upcomning poetry readings at 6:30pm at Kelly Writers House:

Jan. 16 — Mónica de la Torre
Jan. 18  — Simone White
Jan. 30 — Sarah Dowling

2. (Jan. 16) The American Scene in the New Century & before the War: Masters, Robinson, Dunbar

•Poem Profiler self-test: fill out the profiler in the abstract, to reflect your own preferences
•Pick the poem you like best and least. Use the profiler on the two poems.
•Based on your poem profiling self-test, what does this tell you about your preferences?
•Which of the poets this week comes the closest to spoken English and which the least (give specific examples)? Is this a value you like or don't like in poetry?
•Looking at the original books of Dunbar, with photos: how does that affect the meaning/context of the poems? In the preface to J.W. Johnson's 1922 Book of American Negro Poetry (see below), which begins with Dunbar, he writes at lenght about Dunbar's importance; comment on that as well as this provocative admonition: "Negro dialect is naturally and by long association the exact instrument for voicing this phase of Negro life; and by that very exactness it is an instrument with but two full stops, humor and pathos."
Wreading Experiment:: Write a poem similar to one of Master's poems in Spoon River Anthology, making up your own character.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.

3. Jan. 18

modernist time line

Anthology: Native American section, pp. 9-15

Frances Densmore (1867-1957) Chippewa and other native American  songs
Rexroth selection of songs: #1, #2;  Rexroth on American Indian songs (1956); more Densmore here
see also anthology pp. 9-15
Densmore digital books
recordings from 1907 and after (MP3s); see pdf
LOC Cylinder recording (avail from LOC): The Poor are Many; Audio Moccasin Game Song; Audio Why Should I be Jealous; Audio Friendly Song; Audio Southern Dance Song 
from Shaking the Pumpkin:
(1): Four Poems for Coyote (Simon Ortiz)
(2) Aztec
(3) Poems for the Game of Silence (Ojibwe and Mandan)
(4) Wishing Bone Cycle (Swampy Cree)
(6) Navaho
(7): Schwerner Variations

Three short "sounds" works from Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania,ed. Jerome Rothenberg (1968): Aboriginal, Shaker, Navaho

Black Elk Speaks, John Neihardt (1932): Black Elk (1863–1950); Niehard (1881-1973): full text

& now for something completely different ... just to keep the multirack going ...
James Whitcombe Riley (1849-1916): LOC 1912 sound recordings: "Little Orphant Annie" (with 1912 sound recording), "The Raggedy Man"

Some questions:
• How does this set of readings fit into the larger selections in the course? Is this material an integral part of "American poetry" or something differernt (or both)? It is "ethnographic" in interest (think of the art of indigenous people in natural history museums rather than art museums). How does it connet to the discourse around dialect, the local, and the vernacular in American poetry? Is the work "primitive" compared to European poetry or, as Rothenberg argued in 1968 ("Primitive Equals Complex" earlier of two prefaces to Technicians), as fully developed as "our" art (thus his title)? What is "ours"? Modernist art is often said to be influenced by the art of non-writing cultures -- and there is a big debate over whether this work is just a "source" from cultures not involved in a Western sense of high art culture or whether this very attitude is ethnocentric if not racist. See Thomas McEvilley's 1984 critique of MoMA's primitivism show, "Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief"
•Rothenberg's revolutionary anthology. Technicicians of the Sacred (1968) combined radical modernist approaches to poetry of non-alphabet / non-writing cultures. How does the alphabet and translation work in these contexts? Describe the formal and styllistic qualities of the poems in contrast to other poetry with which you are familiar form 19th or early 20th century. Use Poem Profiler.
•As for Riley: say what you will. But note he was an early influence on Dunbar: discuss. What about the white dialect of this best-selling hoosier poet? Is that also an ethnographic poetry?
•High/low: Riley is not considered a serious "high" poet for many modernist and contemporary critics (he was quite popular in his time). Poetry of non-writing cultures, has not been considered "high" culture, representing the ascent or progress of civilization. "Light verse" or nonsense (Lear, Carrol, Nursery Rhymes) or children's verse is also contrasted to high, serious poetry. One of the changes in the post-WW2 period has been to question those high-low distinctions. Discuss this complex issue, which is so multilayered for those of us born in the New World.

Wreading: try souding/performing these works for yourself or with aid of audio recorder. Transform / translated these poems into more conventional Western poems. Rearrange the words. Etc.

4. (Jan. 23) Modern Contrasts: Lowell, Hartley, Kilmer, and Moore


•Repeat queston: Which of the poets (if any of them!) this week comes the closest to spoken English and which the least (give specific examples)? Is this a value you like or don't like in poetry? Howe does this compare to Arlington and Robinson.
•For Lowell, what are the "patterns" in the poem of that title? Give examples of patterns she might have been thinking about in the time the poem was written? What does Arenberg say about patters in "For Forms that Are Free"? Contrast the approaches of the poems?!
•Marsden Hartley is one of the greatest of American modernist painters, but also a poet of considerable gifts. Do you see a connection?
•Moore is by far the poet that has the greatest critcal reception of these poets, and among all poets of her generation. Indeed Pound trashed Amy Lowell for "Amygism" and, to come extent, that's stuck (even when the remark is understood as misogynist). Kilmer is, mostly, considered kitch. Hartley ignored as a poet. Why?
Wreading: Take all the words from a Moore or the Lowell poem and scramble them to create a new poem. Alternate: Take the Lowell or Morre and erase half the words to create a new poem.


5.  (Jan. 25) Early Frost (from North of Boston, 1915)

respondent: Avery

First: Audio: Robert Frost reading "Mending Wall"
Next: Frost in anthology; class discussion will focus on "Mending Wall" (1914) and possibly "Birches" (1915) (& in anthology)

Frost's own wall in NH
Further background (optional): Robert Frost Map page, wiki, Poetry Foundation,
poems in anthology
After Apple Pickin" (audio)
Voices & Visions TV documentary(scroll down to poet and click there)
•Pick a poem give a brief summary of the content. How is this summary different from the poem?
•In what way is Frost different the poets from the preceding class? On the question of quality (give crititeria!): compare a Frost poem to a Lowell or Masters or Moore poem.
•What about Frost and the vernacular?
• What about the form of Frost's poems?
•A question on mood or tone: Is Frost an affirmative/happy poet or more dark/disturbing: site specific poems or passages.
•Discuss the audio recording: how does it compare to the printed text?
•Frost is perhaps best known for The Road Not Taken" (c. 1916) "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening" (c. 1923) "Fire & Ice"(c. 1923). Contrast these poems to "Mending Wall"
•Perhaps a question to come back to later in the semester): Many have written about the sonnet "Design" (published in 1936 but first draft in teens): it makes a strong contrast with the "free verse" poetry of Williams, Pound and others. Discuss the virtues or problems with using tradtional form in this period
•Extension/OPTIONAL!: Frost read at the1961 JFK Inaugural poem, "The Gift Outright" (written prob. in the 1930s: see story): what about Frost as poet of an official U.S. nationalism that some would find problematic in its view of the U.S?.; see also Moore's 1943 WW2 patrioitc "In Distrust of Merits" (orignally published in The Nation); do the poems rely on a belief in the intrinsic merit of a Protestant destiny for America? Jonathan Fedors, recent Penn PhD, notes in his dissertation the connection between the Frost and the the Moore poems and discusses in the Moore her claim for a justified war via Protestant theologin Reinhold Niebuhr, who Obama invokes in his Nobel Prize speech) (a.k.a American exceptionalism).
Wreading Experiments:
•Reverse the order of the words line for line.
•Translate one of the poems into a totally contemporary idiom, including references and diction.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.

6. (Jan 30). African-American Modernism : Part I

How does Brown handle the issue of song transcription and vernacular?
•Discuss the thread of song/dialect/vernacular/poetry as it moves through the selected poems. For example, contrast Dunbar to the poets this week and each to the other.
•Transcribe a poem from a recording without consulting the "original" written text. Try to create appropriate line breaks and layout. Try several different formats.
•Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem and translate it "English to English" by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or "free" translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into -- or out of -- a slang or vernacular.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the list

Monday, 2/5 at noon, KWH: USING ELECTRICITY: COMPUTER GENERATED BOOKS Nick Montfort, Allison Parish, and Rafael Pérez y Pérez

7/8 (Feb. 1/6). Gertrude Stein: When This You See Remember Me: pf

Respondent: Margaret
Man Ray photo 1922 (exact resemblance of exact resemblance):
Stein at PennSound 
"Rose is a rose" at 100 (1913)
Tender Buttons(1914) [Gutenberg complete] at 100, also: free Kindle, via print edition from Green Integer or Green Integer e-book; compare new Colin Sackett design (download pdf)
"If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso"(1923) & audio / text alignment
"Composition as Explanation"(1926)
"An Elucidation" (1927)
"Five Words in a Line" (1930)
"Identity: A Poem" (1935) (my commentary on this work)
"Idem: the Same; A Valentine for Sherwood Anderson" -- in anthology + audio
Karin Krog's version of "As a Wife Has a Cow" (text)

Extensions (optional):
Stein & Aftican-American vernacular:
Melanctha from Three Lives (1909) anthology selections; exceprts ; Mullen on Wright
Stein in pictures.
from "Arthur A. Grammar" (1931)
Stanzas in Meditation (1932) & excerpts at PF
I have written several essays on Stein, collected here & see also my Three Compositions on Philosophy and Literature (1972), on Stein and Wittgenstein.

"What Are Masterpieces": excerpt
Williams on Stein
Note Stein resources also at MAPS.
McCaffery, Steve. Every Way Oakly: Homolinguistic Translations of Gertrude Stein's Tender
Buttons (Toronto: BookThug, 2008). See one poem in L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E #6
Holly Melgard's procedure on Making of Americans (2012)
Mac Low and Eigner and Grenier etc on Stein in L= #6
Brian Reed," Gertrude Stein Speaks" ESC [Englsih Studeis in Canada] 33:4, Dec. 2007 via Project Muse. ESC/Muse [Penn url]
Joshua Schuster on ms of Tender Buttons at Jacket2
Note Stein resources also at MAPS.
Gertrude Stein Reader, ed. Ulla Dydo
Gertrude Stein Selections, ed. Joan Retallack
Autobiography of Alice Toklas (1933)
The Geographical History of America or the Relation of Human Nature to the Human Mind
(1936) Everybody's Autobiography (1937)


•Does it make a difference in your reading of the poems by Stein or Amy Lowell, or a Bessie Smith blues, that they are by women or Frost that he is a man? How? If these were written by the other gender, how would that change the meaning?
•Discuss the experience of hearing Stein versus reading her work as a printed text. How does the sound files affect the "identity" of the poem?]\
•In Stein's Tender Buttons, what are the possible meanings of the title? Why is the section called "objects"? Why is the poem written in a prose format?
•Discuss Stein's famous line "Rose is a rose is a rose." What's going on in this line; suggest as many dynamics as possible
•Use the parts of the poem profiler on one of the sections of Tender Buttons to aid you assessing the form and tone
•How does Stein's work relate to Lowell's "Patterns" or Frosts "wall"?
•Is this work abosorptive or does it disrupt the reader's absorption?
•Write a poem using a vocabulary of 6-8 words only as in "Very Fine is My Valentine"
•Try to write a Tender Buttons-style poem.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.


9/10. (Feb. 8/13) Poetry and Social Struggle, or the 30s forever

Lola Ridge (1873-1941): "The Ghetto" (1918); optional: Ridge in anthology; but see bio
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967): "I Am the People, the Mob":
"The People, Yes" and
"Cool Toombs" (PF)
& in anthology: "Fog" & :"Chicago" + audio [Penn only:]: "Fog", "Cool Tombs" and "The Windy City"; "The People, Yes"
Sandburg on PennSound
Optional critical reading: Brian Reed on Sandburg and "bad" poetry
Williams on Sandburg Poetry (1951)

optional PBS American Masters on Sandburg (not now available)

Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931); poetry fdn
"The Leaden-Eyed," "General Booth Enters into Heaven"
"The Congo"(1912/1914) text/audio at PennSound 
Optional further reading: Lindsay selections in anthology, PoemTalk episode on "The Congo" & Richard Hyland on the poem. Also How popular was "The Congo"?
t: Katherine

Muriel Rukeyser (wiki; PF) (1913-1980) & see MAPS discussion & on-line free texs of poems
PennSound page
USI (1935) (requires PennKey log-on: this will direct you to the full book; go to table of contents [link on upper left of screen] to read Rukeyser's collected poems) and specifically from the first section Book of the Dead : search for these titles: "Mearl Blankenship" (and discusssion of this poem); "Absalom" (discussion); "George Robinson Blues" (discussion)
plus: From Speed of Darkness [LION link to book] (1968): "Poem as Mask' (first poem in book),"In Our Time" (search for title) and "Speed of Darkness" (also at PF), "The Poem as Mask"
respondent: Aileen

Alfred Hays (1911 - 1985),
"I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill," set to music by Earl Robinson (1910-1991): here sung by Paul Robeson & here by Pete Seeger [Penn only version of Robeson]. Also (optional): Phil Ochs's 1968 tribute to Joe Hill (mp3) and lyric.

exits chained shut, women jumped from windws in the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: more info from Modern American poetry cite
Morris Rosenfeld
, "Memorial to the Triangle Fire Victims" and "The Uprising of the 20,000" (bg info) in anthology sp. 30-31
John Wheelwright (1897-1940): "Anathema, Maranathma!", "Fish Food (for Hart Crane)" , "Wise Men on the Death of a Fool" on Harry Crosby.  (Extensions: Wheelwrigh's 1933 collection Rock and Shell is available on LION: log in and search for "Fish Food" and then to to TOC)
PF poems)
Extensions (optional)
Kenneth Fearing & MAP (1902-1961):"Green Light" "Evening Song" "American Rhapsody (4)" and Fearing in anthology;
Kenneth Patchen (1911–1972) :
"The Lions of Fire Shall Have Their Hunting"(1942)
"How to Be an Army" (1943)
"Street Corner College" (1939)
"Lonesome Boy Blues" (1952)
Picture Poem Examples
from Sleeper's Awake
Joe Hill
"The Preacher and the Slave" (lyric); sung by Harry K McClintock (1951;
Genevieve Taggard, "Interior"
respondent: Chelsea
Woody Guthrie, "Mean Talking Blues" (youtube), "1913 Massacre" (youtube)
respondent: Michael
Elizabeth Cotten (1893-1987) -- "Freight Train": youtube, text
"Bread & Rose"; Joan Biaz and Mimi Farina sing the song <>
Marc Blitzstein (1905-1964) singing "The Nickel under the Foot" (realaudio & YouTube) from The Cradle Will Rock at a party for Bertolt Brecht in 1936; Blitzstein labor songs
Yip Harburg & Jay Gorney (1931), "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"; the lyric is included in the anthology; Bing Crosby version: MP3 (Penn only)
Morrise Rosenfeld in anthology: "Memorial to the Triangle Fire Victims," p. 30

• Compare each poet in terms of familiar language/unfamiliar language: give examples.
•How does Sandburg's populism hold up in the early 21st century? What values is he articulating through his poems and what poetic devices does he use to achieve this? How about Ridge?
•Discuss Lindsay's "Congo" in terms of its political and racial forms and contents; what is the social meaning of the rhythms?
•Many of the issues around "The Congo" and its romantic primitivism are also relevant to Avatar and the The Dead Poets Society (where the poem is explicitly used: you can watch the scene here, 2:20 into the clip or try to find the film scene by search). If you know either of these films, discuss!
•Discuss the forms of the poems. What is the politics of the choice of forms?
•Compare Rukeyser to Masters
Some key issues to consider in this reading:
*choice of subject matter
*high culture/low culture: politics of reference/allusion
*politics of content/form/diction
*popularity/populism: complexity vs accessibility
*unintended difficulties: reading the work from the vantage of a different time
*who is Joe Hill? -- what does it mean when Joe says "I never died" in "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill"? And why is this changed later to "Joe Hill ain't never died"?
•Negation/Opposites: Negate every phrase or sentence in the poem or in some way substitute opposite words for selected words in the source text: "I went to the beach" becomes "I went to the office"; "I got up" becomes "She sat down"; "I will" become "I will note", etc.
•Write a political poem on a current issue.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.

Feb. 14 (note changed date!) Paul Auster 6:30pm at KWH: must reserve:

11. (Feb. 15) Retrenchment (High Anti-Modernism)


Archibald MacLeish
(1892-1982), "Ars Poetica" in anthology
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950): "First Fig," "Recuerdo" (mp3) & "Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink" (mp3) & in anthology; "What lips ..."] [wiki page]. Millay at PennSound. respondent: Colin, Aileen
Louise Bogan (1897-1970): "Several Voices Out of a Cloud" and "Old Countryside" (seach title; there is a typo in the text: "unp lace able" should be unplaceable); see also "Women" and intro in anthology.
Allen Tate (1899-1979). "The Ivory Tower"; [seach for] "Sonnets at Christmas" (1934) in Conrad Aiken's influential anthology; and in Rutgers anthology "Ode to the Confederate Dead" (about this poem).
Yvor Winters:(1900-1968) "John Sutter" (with audio),  "The Slow Pacific Swell," "The Fable,"  "On Teaching theYoung," "In Praise of California Wine," & "The Marriage" in anthology (See also his Primitivism and Decadence: A Study of American Experimental Poetry (1937) & In Defense of Reason (1947) )
respondent: Katherine

Further Reading (optional): Conrad Aiken, and John Crowe Ransom in the anthology
How do these poems reflect and avert the formal inovations of modernist poetry? More genrally, dicuss the forms of these poems and the relation of their meaning.New Critic Cleanth Brooks speaks of the "well wrought urn" to suggest the formal value of what I call the High Anti-Modernists. What does this mean, especially as it contrast with Stein, Williams (yes to come), the Aftican-American and native American poetry read, or indeed the poets read last week?
•How do gender, ethnicity, or race figure in these poems?
•Discuss the eroticism in Millay's poems. Is she the modern woman? Compare Rukeyser's (historically later) "Speed of Darkness" to Millay's "Fist Fig" and other poems in terms of their attitude to female sexuality?
•This is a contentions and didactic question and perhaps more a provocation than a fair question. So read it with that in mind! Compare "Ode to the Confederate Dead" and "The Congo." Consider Tate's association with the Southern Agrarians, who were also connected to the New Criticism (and "close reading") and together wrote the manifesto I'll Take My Stand (1930), with its intro. by Ransom (who coined the term New Criticm). Read the brief gloss of the poem here (after figure 2). Is there a double standard at work for Tate's poem to be held as an Eliotic, complex meditation on the dangers of modern society and for Linsday to be accused, and dismissed, as primitivistic and racist? This poem would be consdiered the opposite of the "progandistic" poems read last week, but is it not political? To do something very un-New Critical in its violation of the codes of "close reading," consider Tate's bio (see penultimate paragraph). (Note you can see full articles via Penn log-in to Muse;) Would it be fair to speak the unspeakable issue of race and slavery in terms of this poem? Or is this question unfair? Might there be something in common in the two poems?
Wreading:: Acrostic chance: apply a Mac Low acrostic procedure to one poem (see Experiments, #4)

12. (Feb. 20) A Modernist Miscellany

•Pick your favorite poems.
•What is Jeffers's approach to the natural world. (Possibly compare to Winter's "The Slow Pacific Swell"). Detail the visual imagery in a Jeffers poem. What is the mood or psychological state? What is the theme?
•Nash and Parker would probably be considered writers of "light verse" (as opposed to the "popular" but not light verse of Millay and the "populist" verse of Sandburg or the "high art" of [looking ahead in part] Williams, Frost, Pound, Eliot, H.D., Stevens, etc). Are their poems less important or signifcant than cummings, Jeffers, Bogan, or the "major" modernist listed above?
•how does cummings use the sonnet form in "it may not always be so". This poem was first published in 1917 -- how does that fact inform the poem (time and his age)?
•how does cummings fit in to the modernist poetry conversation (well wrought urns, light verse, comic, whimsical, spontaneous free verse, syntactic revolution, materializing the word? Is cummings, cute, safe, sentimental, innovative? is he too cute or just charming enough? and if charming, how so? how would you describe his sensibility (try the poem profiler and give summary of findings)? describe the forms he uses and his approach to the line. what's his diction? what are "furnished souls" in "the cambridge ladies"? what the "moral" of that poem and the good samaritan poem ("man who had fallen among thieves") (if there is one?). (explain the structure of "grasshopper". "plato told him" what? (note the US sold the Japanese scrap metal form NY's dismantled 6th ave elevated train line (el), which was used to make weapons. what's with the lower case letters and odd spacing?
•What do you make of Edgar Guest? Is Guest's "Home" white dialect? Are they kitch? How about the Chrysler ad and the use of a Muddy Waters soundtrack with Guest's poem? Also consider Parker's line: "“I’d rather fail my Wasserman Test/ than have to read the poetry of edgar guest.”
•If you can beat more compare and contrast ... I added late a request to compare Rukeyser's much later "Speed of Darkness" to Millay; but now how about Millay to Parker as alternate version of the modern woman?

Substitution (2): "7 up or down." Take a poem and substitute another word for every noun, adjective, adverb, and verb; determine the substitute word by looking up the index word in the dictionary and going 7 up or down, or one more, until you get a syntactically suitable replacement.

13 (Feb. 22) No class today. Continue with reading of Stevens and post early if possible.


14. (Feb. 27) Wallace Stevens and the Imagination of Imagination

respondent: Colin
Stevens in anthology. Focus: "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," "The Idea of Order at Key West," and "Not Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself"  and "The Plain Sense of Things" (not in anthology) [Note also the PoemTalk on "Not Ideas ..."]
I'd like to focus the class discussion on "Idea of Order"or "The Plain Sense of Things." But please post on the other poems as well.
Audio: at PenSound: "Idea of Order at Key West" and "Not Ideas about the Thing Itself ... ; video with Steven's voice of "The Snow Man." See also Jim Andrews's fantasia on the Stevens's audio.
Extensions: "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven" (via LION) (not required!). Al Filreis's Stevens web page.
Academy of American Poets Stevens page
"Notes for a Supreme Fiction" (1942)
Voices & Visions TV documentary (scroll down to poet and click there) ((scroll down to poet and click there)

•Pick your favorite Stevens poem:: describe the sound of each (use the Profiler, without necessarily filling it out). What is the relation of the sound to the poem's theme or point-of-view?
•What is the "plain sense of things" in the poem of that title?
•What is "the thing itself" in "No Ideas about the Thing But the Thing Itself"?
• In "The Idea of Order at Key West": who is "she"? What is the idea of order? What is Stevens's sense of "reality"? Compare this poem to Winters's "The Slow Pacific Swell" or to H.D. "Oread."
•On the question of quality (give crititeria, possibly using the poem profiler): compare a Stevens poem to a Winters poem or Millay poem one by Frost or cummings (or pick youtself).
•Take one, two or three different poems and cut each somewhere in the middle, then recombine with the beginning parts following the ending parts.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.

15. March 1 William Carlos Williams (1883-1963): Word for Word

respondent: Daniel
PF, MAPS discussion of the ind. poems. Poets.Org
Williams in anthology. Focus on "The Young Housewife," "Pastoral," "Queen Anne's Lace," "The Botticellian Trees, "Between Walls", "Spring and All," "To Elsie" (e.g., "The pure products of America...") "This Is Just to Say," and the prose excepts from Spring and All.
Audio at PennSound; note at end singles of "Between Walls" and "This Is Just to Say"; also note the singles for "Queen Anne's Lace", "To Elsie"; "The Botticellian Trees,"  & video realization of "The Great Figure" (text, see a staitc version here).
Optional:  PoemTalk: Al Filreis leads a discussion of "Between Walls"
See also James Clifford on "To Elsie" & the Penn symposium on "For Elsie".
Voices & Visions TV documentary (scroll down to poet and click there)
Note: LION has Collected WCW.
•How do William's thin lines work? What do they do?
•What do you make of the line breaks in Williams? Compare Williams to Masters and Robinson in terms of use of everyday spoken language.
•On the question of quality (give crititeria!): compare a Williams poem to a Masters poem or one by Frost or Sandburg.
•Detail the visual images in your favorite poems for this week. Then detail the psychological states/evocations in these poems.
•Which poems are most like someone speaking and which the least? How does that affect the value of the poems.
•Peter Quatermain notes the limitations of New Criticism in this article, with special reference to Williams. Discuss.
•Reflect on this piece by Williams on Sandburg from Poetry (1951)
Wreading Experiments:
•In imitation of Williams, write a poem with very short lines OR take a poem with longer lines from the anthology and rebreak the lines in the manner of Williams.
•Write a poem as a note on the refrigerator.
•Write a poems about a single commonplace object.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv



March 13: Michael Palmer at KWH

16. March 13 African-American Modernism II.

Discuss Cullen's choice of form and diction: what poltical/social/aesthetic implications are there. Contrast with Sterling Brown's and James Weldon Johnson's approach.
Discuss McKay's use of the sonnet form in "If We Must Die." McKay (in the second clip) talks about the poem in the audio clip and it's possible "universal" relevance, read without knowledge of the author or context. Do you agree with him that the poem is "universival" and not just related to the specific issue of lynching that gave is its origin? Note: The poem was published in 1919, during the race riots of the Red Summer in The Liberator, a communist magazine.
Compare "At the Carnival" to "Harlem Dancer"
Compare "Bottled" to Lindsay's "The Congo" in terms of the imagination of Africa.
Discuss the use of vernacular and choice of forms in Specer, Cowdery, and Johnson.

March 15
Ezra Pound: Collage and Persona

respondent: Daniel

My Short introduction to Pound plus my Oct. 30, 2015 talk/ reading on/from Pound at the Library of Congress.
Part I: anthology to p. 279; plus prose on p. 294-95 (web version of A Retrospect is somewhat longer) and "Moeurs Contemporains" at EPC and note Poetry Genius annotated version
"Cantico del Sole" at EPC with notes
AUDIO at PennSound: Cantico de Sole, Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, Moers Contemporaire, The Seafarer
PoemTalk discussion "Cantico" .
River Merchant's Wife
on the poem
Alt. tr. with Chinese and literal tr.
Class discussion (in this order) on "In a Station of the Metro" (1916) (see also commentary), "Cantico", "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly" (sections I, II, V, Envoi), and "Moeurs"; if time, but not likely: "The Seafarer," "The River-Merchant's Wife" (commentary and other translations).
Extensions: "The Seafarer" (at PEPC)
Voices & Visions TV documentary (scroll down to poet and click there)

Part II remainder in anthology
Canto I commentary
Additional AUDIO: Usura/LXV
Class discussion: LXXXI (Pisan); video clip with Pound reading; see also hypertext commentary on this poem; also commentary at Modern American Poetry), CXVI (see commentary)
Voices & Visions TV documentary (scroll down to poet and click there)
See esp. the Modern American Poetry Page for comments on specific poem
Note: full Cantos at LION

Looking ahead (futher reading, optional): Pound's Cavalcanti, "Donna mi prega," which we come back to with Zukofsky
•Does the hypertext commentary for LXXXI help or hurt?
•What's with all the reference in Pound anyway?
•What is Pound's tone in "Mauberly" and "Moeurs"; have you heard that tone before?
•What about the audio files? What impression do they make?
What is Pound's object of criticism in "A Retrospect"; what poets in the anthology would you think he would like and what poets would he not like?
What's the significance of the Epic for Pound? What's the significance of translation?
•Write a collage poem incorporating the poems that make up the course reading together with selected other historical or political material.
•Erasure: Take a poem and cross out most of the words on each poem, retype what remains as your poem
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the listserv.

18. (March 20). American Dada: Arensberg, The Baroness Elsa, Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Harry Crosby, Bob Brown, Jolas, Waters
respondent: Aileen

Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven
(1874-1927 ): "A Dozen Cocktails Please" & "Appalling Heart" in anthology (p. 522); more poems at Green Integer Review and at Jacket2; extensioins: Body Sweats, Daughter of Dada page, fashion by the Baronness;   Williams on the Baronness, PIP page, Fowler bio,  3 poems; Bernstein reading of "Teke Heart"
Walter Conrad Arensberg
  (1878-1954) "Ing" (1917): NY Dada, in anthology, p. 521; more Arensberg here: click on link to publications, also "For Forms that Are Free" and other poems (also in Kreymborg 1917 Others anthology [scroll down])
Bob Brown
(1886-1959) : bio and poems; "The Lord of Burleigh"; intro to reading machines,  The Readiesintro -- and then look at hi-res scans starting p. 47 of the reproduced book and and esp. on-line simulation of the machine ; more Bob Brown: Words. NY Times artcle on The Readies,  critical intro
Abraham Lincoln Gillespie (1895-1950): three essays at UBU
; four poems at Fasicle
more Gillespie from Imagining Language
and also The Syntactic Revolution (New York: Out of London Press, 1980)
Harry Crosby (1898-1929): Transit of Venus; from Alcheringa; selection;  "SUN-TESTAMENT" (from Charriot of the Sun, 1927); "SCORN" & "I DRINK TO THE SUN" (from Torchbearer, 1929 ); optional further reading: more Crosby & 27 poems on Poem Hunter. See also bio and poems at this Crosby web site.
Ethel Waters, "That Dada Strain": lyric, youtube (1922)
Eugene Jolas
from Imagining Language
Jolas Transition manifesto:

Extension: Man Ray (Emmanuel Radnitzky, 1890-1976)
•Rank the poems: favorites and least favorite.
•Summarize the formal approaches of each of the poets. Do the poets remind you of other poems read so far this semester, or poems you have otherwise read?
•What is Baronness Elsa's approach to speech/vernacular/dialect? 
•What kind of patterns do you find in Crosby?
• What is the role of neologism in Gillsepie (and if you you know Joyce's Finnegans Wake, an important influence, how does this work relate)?
•Comment on John Wheelwright's poem for Croby (scroll down).
• Does Brown anticiapte digital poetry with this reading machines (poetry in programmable media)?
• If you know about Dada, discuss Arensberg in the context of Dada.

Susan Schultz at KWH, March 21, at noon
Tonya Foster at KWH, March 22 at 7pm

19. (March 22) HD (1886-1961) ; pf
& Mina Loy & PF

respondent: Katherine
H.D. by Man Ray (1922); H.D. digital at Yale
H.D. Complete Poems at 20th C American Poetry (Penn only)
"Oread"  (on this poem) and "The God" (first poem in The God, 1913-1917)
"Sea Rose" (from Sea Garden, 1916) (on this poem)
"The Islands"(from Hymen, 1921)
"Eurydice" (1925) (on the poem)
"The Walls Do Not Fall" part one from Trilogy (c. 1940-1945) (on this poem)
(note this e-resource has the Collected H.D.)
Optional/futher reading/listening: 
H.D. in anthology
H.D. at PennSound 
Djuna Barnes, The Book of Repulsive Women
•Susan Friedman, “Who Buried H.D.: A Poet, Her Critics and Her Place in ‘The Literary Tradition.’” College English 36 (March 1975): 801-14. Note the date (1975). Access via library e-resources, JSTOR.
•Adelaide Morris, How to Live / What to Do: H.D.'s Cultural Poetics (University of Illinois Press, 2003): pdf 
H.D. web page.
MAPS page
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, from H.D.: The Career of that Struggle (Indiana University Press, 1986) 
Susan Stanford Friedman, Psyche Reborn: The Emergence of H.D. (University of Indiana Press, 1987) 
DuPlessis and Friedman, eds., Signets: Reading H.D. (University of Wisconsin, 1991) 
Robert Duncan: The H.D. Book
Elizabeth Willis, "A Public History of the Dividing Line: H.D., the Bomb, and the Roots of the Postmodern"
H.D. "Sea Poppies" and Jen Scappatone's version
•"Oread" is the perfect Imagist poem (and cited by Pound as such): discuss.
•How does H.D. use the verse line to create rhythm in her poems? Decribe the rhythmic effects of her work.
How does H.D. change the point of view of the Orpheus/Eurydice story?
Why Greece? What role to the Classical references have in this work. Contrast to Eliot and Pound's use of literary allusion.
Are these poems epic or lyric? What's gender got to do with it?
What makes HD's dialogic? What is the tone of her work?
Wreading: Take lines from "The Walls Do Fall" and reorder to created a new poem. Or write a poem in imitation of H.D.

Mina Loy & PF
respondent: Michael

Man Ray photo
Loy all poems in anthology (see image of Brancusi's "Golden Bird," subject of Loy's poem.); "Love Songs" (1915-1917): pdf of first publication ("Songs for Joannes") in Others in 1917
Loy manifestos,  "Aphorisms of Futurism" (1914) at Poetry Fdn & "Feminist Manifesto"; optional archival ms: pdf/Penn of ms of "Feminist Manfesto"
"Anglo-Mongrel and the Rose"
further reading:
Wiki bio
Wolkowski's Loy page. & Daughters of Dada show page;"
my performance of "Aphorisms of Futurism" at MoMA)
web versions for display (unproofed: send corrections to me!) (needs correction -- "Golden Bird" and "Love Songs")
Carolyn Burke -- first chapter of bio plus (the whole bio is worth reading!), Tuuma && in Loy  Jacket feature
Marjorie Perloff on Loy
archival/optional: 1 pg of ms of "Love Songs"
•Discuss the eroticism in Loy's and H.D's poems. Can you think of any approach related to this in the reading so far? Describe and contrast the forms chosen.
•Discuss Loy's "Feminist Manifesto." How does "Aphorisms of Futurism" related to other futurist and modernist manifestos.
•Do a close reading of one stanza of "Love Songs." Does the poem read differently in the pdf of the original publication versus the anthology?
•Write a poem in imitation of Loy.
•Substitution (1) : "Mad libs." Take a poem and put blanks in place of three or four words in each line, noting the part of speech under each blank. Fill in the blanks being sure not to recall the original context.

20/21 (March 27 & March 29) African American Modernisms III: Hughes, Toomer, Tolson

•How does Hughes negotiate the blues in "The Weary Blues" -- contrast to Sterling Brown approach to the blues. Or, contrast to Spencer's "At the Carnival" and McKay's "The Harlem Dancer" in respect to the gaze/identification of the speaker on the black performer.
•For Hughes and Toomer (here we go again): discuss the relation of his poems have spoken American English. What forms do they employ? How "literary' is thier "diction" (a loaded and leading question!).
•How does the form of the poems here contribute to the content?
•Are any of these poets more or less political than the others. Explain.
•Alan Tate wrote on Tolson's Libretto (excerpt in the MAPS Tolson pages). Going back to our dicussion of Tate, comment.
•Homolinguistic translation: Take a poem and translate it "English to English" by substituting word for word, phrase for phrase, line for line, or "free" translation as response to each phrase or sentence. Or translate the poem into another literary style or a different diction, for example into -- or out of -- or into a different -- a slang or vernacular.
::Be sure to comment on your results and post to the list

22 (April 3). The Talented Mr. Eliot

respondent: Margaret

T.S. Eliot: "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," (c. 1911) & "The Waste Land" (1922)

+ Audio:
"The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock" and/or
"The Waste Land": text/audio from Poetry Archive (from Cabell Greet at Barnard, May 1933): I, II, III, IV, V
"The Waste Land" (mp3 of whole poem; 30mb; some recent problems loading this)
PennSound of 1933 recordings
"The Waste Land" Audio by ind. section (London, 1946)
Note digital texts inked above from Bartleby and at LION.
& Eliot audio on Spotify.
Optional: "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (part of "The Sacred Wood"); alternate pdf file of essay

Further links: What the Thunder Said (Eliot site with full texts)
Prufrock web site: hypertext of poem, early reveiws, full text of Prufrock and Other Observations (1971) &c
Web Guide to Eliot

Deformative sound of Eliot
Further Reading:
Selected Prose, ed. Frank Kermode
B.C. Southam, A Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot
Tom and Viv (1994)

Voices & Visions TV documentary ((scroll down to poet and click there)
•Use the Poem Profiler to describe the mood, psychological state, and other features of several poems.
•How does "The Waste Land" relate to other collage works previously read in the class? More generally, what is Eliot doing in common with other poets read so far, what differently?
•Here is the classic potboiler question, your imaginary exam? What are the principal sources used in "The Waste Land"? Go beyond the obvious or listed "literary sources"!
•Optional reading: Discuss "Tradition and the Individual Talent" in terms of the ongoing issues that have been discussed in the class? What is the relevance of Eliot's views for modernist poetry, for American poetry, or for poetry today?
•Reverse the word order (word for word backward, not line for line). Rather than reverse, scramble.
•  Burroughs's fold in: Take two different pages from the source text and cut them in half vertically. Paste the mismatched pages together.

23 (April 5). Second Wave Modernism I: Charles Reznikoff

Charles Reznikoff (1894-1976)
respondent: Margaret, Eleanor
[I have several pieces on Reznikoff on the EPC page linked above]
SF State Reading: MP3 at PennSound
selection of poems (in Word); for class discusion, there is also
A shorter selection, which are the ones we will discuss, time permitting
" Amelia": a case study:
Reznikoff reading the poem MP3
source material
the text and my commentary
EPC selections
Collected Poems at LION and Testimony vol 1 at LION & Testimony vol 2 at LION
Zukofsky on Reznkikoff (1931): "Sincerity and Objectification"
"Reznikoff's Nearness" in My  Way: Speeches and Poems; original talk (audio)

•How does Reznikoff differ from Eliot in respect to symbolism and literary form? Who is more difficult — Eliot or Reznikoff (that is, is there a way Reznikoff can be considered difficult)?
•Some of Reznikoff's poems are extremely short? How does scale function in these poems?
•For Reznikoff: Does is make a difference that these poems were written by a man? By a child of immigrants? By a person from a second-language (Yiddish-speaking) household. By a Jewish-American?
•Discuss the experience of hearing Reznikoff versus reading him on the page?•Re-order the poems in the Reznikoff "selection" -- discuss effect of the different order
Wreading: Take one of Reznikoff's poems and re-write in the manner of Masters or Robinson or with a more traditional form. Discuss.


April 10: EDUARDO ESPINA AT 6pm at KWH (I will be introducing and in conversation with Espina)


24. (April 10): Second Wave Modernism II: Hart Crane and  Samuel Greenberg

Samuel Greenberg
respondent: Michel
My introduction and part two
"To Dear Daniel" and "God"; other selected poems

Hart Crane (1899-1932), PF, wiki
resondent: Aileen
*"The Bridge" (1930)-- at LION; read whole poem, if possible, but if not just go to section III "Cutty Sark; notes for, and text of, "Cutty Sark" (also: more notes on poem)
*"Broken Tower" (scroll down; audio with Tennessee Williams reading poem)
class focus: "Cutty Sark"
* extensions: video-clip of "The Bridge" (actor reading the text), View from Garretteville
* other Crane selections in anthology.
*Voices & Visions TV documentary on Crane (scroll down to poet and click there)
•What do Creane and Greenberg have in common; what is different?
•Describe Crane's "diction." Is this verse purple, too rhapsodic; what leads some readers to respond negatively to his "excess"?
•Describe the scene and mood in "Cutty Sark." Do a close reading phrase for phrase of one stanza: what is happening formally and narratively?
•What earlier poets does Crane bring to mind, if any? How is the style of his work different?
Edit Crane: take passage and edit out all the oddness and poeticisims: make as straight as possibe.
Pick your own wreading experiment from the list.

25. (April 12) Second Wave Modermisms III:
Lorine Niedecker

respondent: Eleanor

Lorine Niedecker in anthology
extensions: EPC selection and links
DLB intro
PF page
class discussion "I Married" (note Willis on this poem at EPC) & "My Life by Water" (also in EPC selection)
LN@Poetry Foundation
(optional):: 1970 reading: mp3
•Crane's is a poetry of excess, or extravagant language; Niedecker is a poet of condesnsation and elision; you might say fat vs. thin.. Discuss the affective qualities of each of these approaches to poetry.
•Compare Reznikoff and Neidecker
•Niedecker's poetry situated in the rural northern midwest. How does she create a modernist poetry with this nonurban setting?
•Is Niedecker's poetry "domestic"? Is this a helpful or reductive frame? Is it the same as saying she writes "as a woman"? Is this a helpful or reductive frame?
•Do a close reading, that is, say everything you can say, about one of Niedecker's short poems.
Do an imitation of Niedecker or
Pick your own wreading experiment from the list.

26. (April 17) Second Wave Modernism IV:
Laura Riding

respondent: Michael
Laura Riding
(Poetry Foundation) on rencouncing poetry (Penn only)
Preface, "By a Crude Rotation" "Come, Words, Away" "Poet: A Lying Word" "The Wind, the Clock, the We" "The World and I" plus –– optional futher reading: bio and prose glosses: pdf Penn only
or go to E-resources and go to Granger's and then poem title
Riding audio
I have an essay on Riding (Jackson) in My  Way: Speeches and Poems
>Why does Riding renouce poetry?
>What does she mean by poetry as "lying" in "Poet' A Lying Word"
>What is the relation of word to world in these poems?
Further Reading:
The Telling
A Pamphlet Against Anthologies with Robert Graves
Anarchism Is Not Enough

27. (April 19) Second Wave Modernism V: Sincerity and Objectifciation with Special Reference to Louis Zukofsky

respondent: Michel

Louis Zukofsky (1904-1978) (links to my intro)
DLB (Scroggins) intro
in anthology: "A"-11; "I's p(pronounced eyes), "Anew" 10, 20, 21
"Songs of Degrees"
(web library only) & audio:
Songs of Degrees: 2 and 3 (2:48): MP3
With a Valentine, the 12th of February (from "Songs of Degrees") (0:15): MP3
Songs of Degrees 1 & 2 and Barely and widely (2:13): MP3
With a Valentine, the 14th of February (from "Songs of Degrees") (0:37): MP3
"Julia's Wild" (from Bottom: On Shakespeare, 1960)
Catullus & audio of 70
"A Foin Lass Bodders Me"
LZ at PennSound
"Poem Beginning 'The' "(1927)
"A"-9 (PF)
Al Filries leads a discssion of Anew #12 ("It's hard to see but think of a sea") on Poem Talk) (Text: Penn only)
•How do these poems relate to the previous poetry you have read this semester? Briefly sketch the form/structure of each of the poems.
•Discuss the role of sound in several of the poems.
•Are Zukofsky's homophonic (same-sound) Catullus translations really translations?
•What is the effect of Zukofsky permutations of words in "Songs of Degrees" and "Julia's Wild".
"Julia's Wild" comes from a line in Shakespeare's Two Gentleman of Verona, Act 4, Scene 4 (line 199), a part spoken by Julia:
Come, shadow, come and take this shadow up
For 'tis thy rival. O thou senseless form,
Thou shalt be worshipp'd, kiss'd, loved and adored!
And, were there sense in his idolatry,
My substance should be statue in thy stead.
I'll use thee kindly for thy mistress' sake,
That used me so; or else, by Jove I vow,
I should have scratch'd out your unseeing eyes
To make my master out of love with thee!

Discuss the poem in relation to the play or to Shakespeare. Compare to Ara Shirinyan's Julia's Wilderness.
•"Poem Beginning 'The', written when Zukofsky was 23, is in part a response to THE "Waste Land." Discuss his use of sources in this context. The Firth movement, addressed to his mother, engages with issues that affect many children of immigrants learning a new language and culture: how does Zukofsky approach this and how is it differnent than Pound (a mentor) and Eliot?
Try some homophonic translations of your own, either using Catullus (you can find text on web) or other poem of your choice (you can find a number of links to poems-not-in-English on the English 62 syllabus. See Wreading Experiments list #2 for more detail.

28 (April 24). Last class. Second Wave Modernisms VI:
George Oppen (1908-1964)
respondent: Michel


my intro (from 1985)
DLB intro
"Discrete Series"(1934) pdf for Penn only; PF: excerpts only use pdf
"Of Being Numberous" (1968) pdf for Penn only; PF: excertps only use pdf
N.B. Oppen is not in the anthology because he is a couple of years too young.

As a final optional submission: what is your overall response to the reading or what woud you like to add or make as a last note. Did your sense of poetry change over the semester? Revisit your reactions (favorably and unfavorable) to some of the poets.

Further Tracks
Popular Song
•Irving Berlin, "Slumming on Park Avenue" and audio of song featuring Ella Fitzgerald
•Cole Porter: Cole Porter peforming "You're the Top", "Anything Goes", "Sunday Morning Breakfast Time", and "Everybodee Who's Anybodee"; "Just One of Those Things"(Ella Fitzgerald); "I Get a Kick out of You" (Ethel Merman), "Night and Day" (Aksel Schiotz).
•George and Ira Gershwin and DuBoise Heywood, Porgy and Bess
How do these songs sound to you when heard in the context of this course? What is their significance, if you find any, in the context of modernist American poetry?