From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice

From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice offers the first comprehensive anthology of essays regarding New Narrative writing and community practices by a younger generation of practitioners and scholars. As editors Rob Halpern and Robin Tremblay-McGaw write in their introduction, “We are not interested in offering an ‘authoritative’ canon of New Narrative work, nor are we interested in consolidating an official version of New Narrative’s history. Rather, we want to use this as an opportunity to foreground New Narrative as a movement that is still coming into focus, a more or less unstable object that doesn’t want to be ‘fixed,’ codified, or hardened into a limited & limiting list of names and works. One of our motivating questions is Why New Narrative now? Or, What are the stakes of New Narrative for our contemporary moment? In other words, while we remain committed to a set of past works that have been identified as ‘New Narrative,’ we are equally committed to maintaining New Narrative as a dynamic and ongoing project, one with consequences for our present writing.” Roomy in the collective vision that they manifest, the twenty-four contributions to From Our Hearts to Yours address the AIDS crisis, the politics of race, the structural impacts of neo-liberalism on urban space, and the movement across queer, straight and transgender subject positions.

My essay “A Superficial Estimation: John Wieners and New Narrative” appears here. Edited by Rob Halpern and Robin Tremblay-McGaw. ON Contemporary Practice, 2017.

“Why New Narrative Now?” at Poetics: (The Next) 25 Years

On April 9, 2016, I participated in a stirring seminar on New Narrative, “New Narrative: Why New Narrative Now?”, facilitated by Rob Halpern and Robin Tremblay-McGaw, at the University at Buffalo’s Poetics: (The Next) 25 Years conference. Rob & Robin’s seminar description:

During the late 70s and 80s, when “the self” and “storytelling” were considered suspect if not retrograde for innovative poetics, San Francisco Bay Area writers Robert Glück and Bruce Boone—among others—asserted the critical and imaginative value of precisely these suspect things for a socially activist writing known as New Narrative, a movement that also owed much to the various avant-gardes. Given how New Narrative has lately been attracting more and more interest among poets and scholars alike, we hope this seminar will offer some important social and literary framing for situating New Narrative for the present and future. We’d like to consider New Narrative as a movement that is still coming into focus in the work of new writing. Put another way, while we are no doubt committed to a set of past works that have been identified as “New Narrative,” we are equally intrigued by New Narrative’s capaciousness as a dynamic and ongoing project, one with consequences for many present forms of writing and a variety of writers.

My paper, “A Superficial Estimation: John Wieners & New Narrative,” looks at the link (and “missed connection”) between these two parties. It will appear in a special volume on New Narrative, forthcoming in 2017 from ON Contemporary Practice.

“Regimes of Affect” at NEMLA

In April ’15, I participated in the “Poetry & Contemporary Regimes of Affect” seminar at NeMLA, excellently and perceptively chaired by Judith Goldman and Cathy Wagner. From the CFP:

Poetry has traditionally been a field where affect is generated, parsed, negotiated, circulated; the making of poetry might itself often be described as a form of affective labor . . . As contemporary recursive circuits blur distinctions among production, consumption, and reproduction, affective labor is, too, incurred in the use of social media, while the precarity of life arrangements under neoliberalism conditions our shared yet uneven experience of affective currents and dispositions as well as our labors to manage them. What happens to and in poetry in this context–how does (or how can) poetry register such states of affairs?

My paper, “Affect & Abstraction in John Wieners’s Behind the State Capitol,” looked at Wieners’s late opus through Deluzian lenses like “affect,” “abstract machine,” and “refrain.”

“Magic Words” at PAMLA

On Sunday, Nov. 2, I will be talking on the “Magic Words: Experimental Poetry and Poetics” panel at the 2014 conference of the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association, in Riverside, CA. My paper is titled “Boston’s ‘Better Dream House’: Introducing the Occult School” “Hidden Rites of the Word: Introducing the School of Boston.” Here’s the abstract, short version:

While studies of literary modernism and magic have tended to focus on high modernist figures, poetic interest in magic and the occult carried forward into proto-postmodern experimental writing communities of midcentury. This paper looks at three central figures of Boston’s “occult school”—John Wieners, Stephen Jonas, and Gerrit Lansing—and traces their investments in magical traditions and techniques as sources for poetry.

The “Magic Words” panel is being chaired by Jessica Lewis Luck; also on the panel are Rebecca Steffy Couch, Brian Stefans, and Francesca Astiazaran. (The image above is a ‘paste-up’ by Jess that appeared in Joe Dunn’s wondrous pamphlet, whose name I used in my working title, The Better Dream House.)

Porn Archives

“While sexually explicit writing and art have been around for millennia, pornography—as an aesthetic, moral, and juridical category—is a modern invention. The contributors to Porn Archives explore how the production and proliferation of pornography has been intertwined with the emergence of the archive as a conceptual and physical site for preserving, cataloguing, and transmitting documents and artifacts. By segregating and regulating access to sexually explicit material, archives have helped constitute pornography as a distinct genre. As a result, porn has become a site for the production of knowledge, as well as the production of pleasure.”

My essay “Gay Sunshine, Pornopoetic Collage, and Queer Archive” appears here. Edited by Tim Dean, David Squires, and Stephen Ruszczycky. Duke University Press, 2014.

Let the Bucket Down

“Let the Bucket Down is an annual magazine of Boston area writing, edited by Joseph Torra. Issue One [Fall 2013] contains work by or about John Wieners, Stephen Jonas, Joe Dunn, Carol Weston, Fanny Howe, William Corbett, Daniel Bouchard, Gerrit Lansing, Ruth Lepson, Robert Creeley and Steve Lacy, Ed Barrett, Margo Lockwood, Amanda Cook, Joel Sloman and more.”

My essay “Measure: A Quarterly to the Poem, 1957-1962,” on John Wieners’s essential small magazine, appears in Let the Bucket Down no. 1.