February 12, 2011
Some sub-cutaneous layer of muscle
remembers to tighten my pores,
making me ready, just as though the skin
still held the feathers I erect for flight
from in here where the fear is,
my body leans forward against the air,
not putting weight on the ground
awaiting the moment when a gust
returns me to my proper element.
Traces of multiple pasts,
insist on their solutions irrespective
of effectiveness. I imagine
I’d like the sky to enter
my skull, fall through my spine
secure me to land, but my substance
twists on the spindle of old opinions,
there’s no avoiding the avoidance
the ultimate end and aim of all activity.
Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants
Recovering the African American Poetry of the 1930s
In the 1930s African Americans faced three distinct historical crises that impacted the lives of African Americans directly—the Great Depression, the existential-identity crisis, and the Italo-Ethiopian War, with its threat of a race war. A sizeable body of black poetry was produced in this decade, which captured the new modes of autonomy through which black Americans resisted these social calamities. Much of it, however, including the most influential protest poems, was dismissed as “romantic” by major, leftist critics and anthologists.
Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants: Recovering the African American Poetry of the 1930s, by Jon Woodson, uses social philology to unveil social discourse, self fashioning, and debates in poems gathered from anthologies, magazines, newspapers, and individual collections. The first chapter examines three long poems, finding overarching jeremiadic discourse that inaugurated a militant, politically aware agent. Chapter two examines self-fashioning in the numerous sonnets that responded to the new media of radio, newsreels, movies, and photo-magazines. The third chapter shows how new subjectivities were generated by poetry addressed to the threat of race war in which the white race was exterminated.
The black intellectuals who dominated the interpretative discourses of the 1930s fostered exteriority, while black culture as a whole plunged into interiority. Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants delineates the struggle between these inner and outer worlds, a study made difficult by a contemporary intellectual culture which recoils from a belief in a consistent, integrated self.
JON WOODSON is the Graduate Professor of English at Howard University, received his Ph.D. from Brown University. Woodson is a scholar and teacher of Modern American literature with interests in poetics, the novel, and the long poem. In 2006, Woodson was a visiting Fulbright lecturer in American Literature at the University of Pecs and at ELTE in Budapest. His articles have appeared in Obsidian II, African American Review, The Furious Flowering Of African American Poetry, The Dictionary of Literary Biography, Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, The Harlem Renaissance: a Gale Critical Companion, and The Oxford Companion to Women’s Writing. His critical studies are To Make a New Race: Gurdjieff, Toomer, and The Harlem Renaissance (1999) and A Study of Catch-22: Going Around Twice (2000). Anthems, Sonnets, and Chants: Recovering the African-American Poetry of the 1930s, Ohio State University Press 2011.
Recent work is directed toward a study of the Egyptian materials in Z. N. Hurston’s fiction. Jon Woodson’s chapbook, Cage with a Live Mouth, has just been translated into Hungarian and is forthcoming in a bilingual edition. His poems have been published in Poet Lore, Northeast Journal, Arjuna Library, Baltimore City Paper, and Manzanita Quarterly. He has also published two chapbooks, I Slept Like Liquid Paper and Worry Dolls.
January 10, 2011
February 10, 2010
the great chain must be
joined, or revealed
in its true form
or heard as a whole
no need to climb
or descend only to breath
in and breath out
which we do already
the secret of the
sequence, the significance
of remembering and forgetting
which enshrine the code,
so that when we remember
we need to hear the pull
of forgetfulness and in
They say this is all
we need to find,
the necessity of remembering
to forget and forgetting
and to be fair
sometimes we do
remember to remember
but then forget to forget.
When something issues forth
from the void, from no visible
or understandable source
we know it is sacred
and immortal, because
having no beginning
it can have no end,
we can easily agree
to this, listening when
we speak or read,
hearing only so far back
before words vaporize.
We hear them issue forth
not seeing or knowing
an end for any let loose
to dance away from us.
I watch your words,
the words I read,
skittering through the
maze of my body,
running in erratic spurts,
reaching dead ends,
turning back then
moving on without
finding receptive tissue,
a place to rest.
shake them, they bounce
less jauntily in the
brain than the intestines
their structure roughly parsed
their words re-spelled
their punctuation analysed,
time sucks at them
pellets of memory,
leaves them to atrophy
in contingency store
Perhaps every doing is an undoing,
not in the sense of fate, of ruin,
but in some invisible world
of the undone where whatever we do
undoes a myriad connections.
Just as whatever we say unsays
more than we could list or
suggest intentionally, our
tongues are lawyers that probe,
and burn stubble from fields
from which all sensible mice
have already run.
The idea or remembrance of something
outside, beyond, not cosmically
significant, not requiring years of
yoga, or fasting, the ontological
recall of something else
of elseness, of elsnessness,
the emptiness into which
such remembrance can come,
undefined, without specific aim,
the idea or remembrance,
the listening, I forget now
what it was I wanted
or wanted to forget.
Now I am nearly
I feel the hover
of it in the air
I nearly know
how to be here
Is it best to say that
in the ether, in the air itself
are molecules of mercy,
other ways of knowing,
that the divine rushes
like wind across
find the kindest
delusion and live there
above the flood plane?
February 16, 2011
Poetry & Story at the X Roads
a night of readings featuring
the launch of two WP titles:
The Odysseus Poems
Fictions on the Odyessy of Homer
Judith Kazantzis’ sequence of interwoven voices casts the many struggles with monsters, the seductions and loneliness of love, and the long wanderings of heroes into a vivid meditation for our turbulent times… Marina Warner
The Unicycle Set
Just one click on Nick Burbridge’s website reveals a man driven: if you thought his compositions as leader of ranting roots rockers McDermott’s Two Hours were edgy, prepare yourself for a ride, his poetry is radical and subversive. -Simon Jones, fRoots
and special guest
Editor-in-Chief of AMBIT Magazine
reading from his latest short story collection
Memoirs of a Gone World
These stories are formally adventurous, modern and post-modern, sometimes very droll, and often distinctly filthy. Isn’t that enough for anyone? – Geoff Nicholson
from Nick Burbridge
and fiddler friend
musicians, poets & flash fictioneers welcome!
(5 spots – come early to book – one song, poem or page max)
7:30 for 8pm start
£5 / £4 concs.
Friday March 4th
Iambic Arts Theatre
Regent St, Brighton
further info: contact: Naomi Foyle at
with the word Events in the subject line
This reading is a special chance for Brightonians to meet the Ambit team, and for Ambit
and Waterloo Press to celebrate their ‘special relationship’…
In 1959 a London paediatrician, Dr Martin Bax, diagnosed Angst and Ennui as the prevailing mood. He prescribed Ambit magazine: poetry, fiction and art- sometimes shocking, sometimes experimental sometimes comic, always compelling – plus a small
dose of unstuffy poetry reviews. Created in London, published in the UK, and read internationally, Ambit attracts a loyal core of readers and contributors, including
Judith Kazantzis, Nick Burbridge and other WP poets.
Waterloo Press is an exciting niche publisher with a proven track record in producing high-quality volumes of poetry. Individual collections too have been praised in Poetry Review, and and others for sheer beauty of production – as well as the contents! Some say there’s been nothing like us since Trigram Press in the 1970s. That’s heady, but we’re delighted. Waterloo Press is a publishing house originally dependant on its founder and main benefactor, Sonja Ctvrtecka, and a variety of funding sources. Including major arts council Grants.
January 31, 2011
|CALL FOR PAPERS JOYCEAN LITERATURE:FICTION AND POETRY 1910-2010 June 13-14, 2011 School of Advanced Studies,
Institute of English Studies, University of London,
and Coffin Memorial Lecturer,
Professor Michael Wood (Princeton)
|James Joyce’s influence on literature has been enormous. This conference will examine Joyce’s complex international impact on fiction, long or short, and on poetry. The field remains under-explored. Valuable studies have appeared: either following the links between Joyce and individual authors (Beckett most obviously) or asking about Joyce’s example for the twentieth-century avant-garde. In Irish Studies, too, a strong sense has obtained of Joyce as challenge and example. But much productive work remains to be done to bring these strands together, to broaden the range of influences considered, and to ask critical questions about the nature of influence and legacy. We want to consider Joyce as model, shadow, inspiration, irritation or obstacle for a roster of writers like the following: Amis-Auden-Ballard-Banville-Beckett-Borges-Bowen-Brooke-Rose-Burgess-Burroughs -Carter-Carver-Coe-Coetzee-DeLillo-PKDick-TSEliot-Foster-Wallace-Heaney-Huxley-BSJohnson-Kundera-Lawrence-Lowry-MacDiarmid-McGahern-EO’Brien-FO’Brien-Orwell-Nabokov-Pamuk-Perec-Pinter-Prynne-Pynchon-Raine-Rushdie-SinclairSpender-Stoppard-Thorpe-Toibin-Updike-Walcott-AntoniaWhite-PatrickWhite-Winterson-Woolf-Zweig|
|This two-day conference will address these and other questions through particular studiesor broader enquiries. The conference will feature some forty papers alongside prestigious plenary speakers, chosen from the most dynamic critics and writers at work today.Please send proposals of up to 300 words, for 20-minute papers, to both
Joe Brooker (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finn Fordham (email@example.com)
by James Joyce’s 129th birthday, 2 February 2011
|General Enquiries: Jon Millington, Events Officer, Institute of English Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU; tel +44 (0) 207 664 4859; Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School of Advanced Study is part of the central University of London.
The School takes its responsibility to visitors with special needs very seriously and will endeavour to make reasonable adjustments to its facilities in order to accommodate the needs of such visitors. If you have a particular requirement, please feel free to discuss it confidentially with the organiser in advance of the event taking place.
January 21, 2011
DEPARTMENT OF GERMANIC AND ROMANCE STUDIES
UNIVERSITY OF DELHI
Figuring the Past: the Literary and Historical Imagination
3-5 March 2010
The difference between historian and poet is, according to Aristotle, that the one describes the thing that has been, and the other a kind of thing that might be. He sees a clear and evident distinction between a historian, who describes events and a writer, who invents them. This distinction has been the subject of debate over the last few decades with some calling it into question and others looking more closely at the relationship between the two. The debate has moreover taken place in the midst of rapid and radical changes brought on by the forces of globalisation eroding the national frameworks within which literature and history have for so long been viewed. In the field of history this has driven efforts to evolve transnational or global perspectives and to questions about the colonial and imperialist dimensions of much of modern history. In literary studies this has fuelled the revisiting of canonical texts to see how they are embedded in and reflect these dimensions and their impact on the emergence of genres, literary movements, narrative practices. A further aspect of these new ways of seeing is the increasingly interdisciplinary practice of cultural history, the turn to questions of cultural memory, and the focus on popular culture and popular fiction to provide insights into the mentalities and anxieties of past ages.
The contemporary boom of the historical novel, a literary genre that embodies the complex interdependence of history and literature, underscores the relevance of the debate. Initially emerging as a vehicle for popularizing national histories, the historical novel appears today to reflect a very different sense of the world. Its protagonists seem to be increasingly drawn from the margins of society, from the subaltern classes. In place of (his)story, we often have (her)story. And it seems to be less concerned with constructing a singular identity than with questioning this idea. Are these observations generally valid? And why this resort to history in times that exhort us daily to forget the past and focus on the future?
Even as we reflect on the ways in which history and literature figure the past, our concerns are with the present, and with its no less compelling conflicts and crises. We invite papers that explore the interactions of history and literature in the light of these concerns. Papers focusing on other artistic forms, on film or on related debates in other disciplines are also welcome.
[Deadline for submission of abstracts (200-300 words):
15 January 2011]
Contact name: Shaswati Mazumdar
January 10, 2011
Pulling the curtain aside, looking
for the revelation of the day not
yet come but seeing its promise,
opening the window and looking
out eastwards seeing the banks
of grey, writing my gospel here,
pulling the days aside looking
for validation, transformation of
the ordinary days lived carelessly,
shuffling them into a new order
as though, in themselves, they
were not light enough nor full
nor good enough, seeing out there
a dull mottle covering the higher
cloud as if it were smoke drifted
here from the vast fire of the sun.