Tuesday, May 13, 2008

More on the Long Poem

I'm looking specifically at North American long poems and I'm leaning towards more contemporary works, though the Moderns are okay.

So far your contributions:

Nathaniel Mackey--"Song of the Andoumboulou"
James Merrill--"The Book of Ephraim"
Mark Strand--"Dark Harbor"
H.D.--"Helen in Egypt"
Anthony Hecht--"The Transparent Man"
Ann Carson--"Glass Essay" or "Autobiography of Red"
T.S. Eliot--"The Four Quartets"
Harriet Mullen--"Muse & Drudge"
Alice Notley--"The Descent of Alette"
Rita Dove--"Thomas & Beulah"
Wallace Stevens--"Notes for a Supreme Fiction"
Gertrude Stein--"Tender Buttons"
G.C. Waldrep--"The Batteries"
Walt Whitman--"Song of Myself"
Allen Ginsberg--"Howl"

What about:

Claudia Rankine--"Don't Let Me Be Lonely"
Galway Kinnell--"The Book of Nightmares"
Ezra Pound--"The Cantos"
John Berryman--"The Dreamsongs"
Derek Walcott--"Omeros"

And then there's the whole issue of what's teachable in a span of 10 weeks (we're on the quarter system here at WWU). . .

Now, these would be great books for a lit seminar, but this course is going to be taught as a workshop. What then? How do you teach a sustained meditation on a subject, keeping in mind the complexities of graduate student life?


Workshopping a long poem . . . I remember there were folks in my grad school days that would bring in excerpts of their long poems for workshop. We wanted to smack those people upside the head.


Lovely, lovely Killarney Clary. We're reading her in my prose poem class. No, she's not easy to pin down . . . especially on the heels of Edson and Simic collections. But man I dig her work.


Bruce Beasley: "How's it going man?"

Me: "Good, 'cept I'm not writing."

Bruce Beasley: "That's okay. I mean, how're you going to write with all your new responsibilities?"

Me: "Yeah, you're right."

Bruce Beasley: "Very few poets can write when they have new babies in the house . . . except Sylvia Plath. Don't be like Sylvia Plath."


Barbara Jane Reyes said...

Hey OdlP, Lookee at all them Modernists!

Anyway, I have a question: what do you consider "long poem"? Must they necessarily be book-length? What about something like Adrian Castro's "The Cantos" in the book Cantos to Blood and Honey, or Anne Waldman's "Fast Speaking Woman," which is ~ 30-something pages, or even something a little shorter than this: my 12-page poem, "Anthropologic," for example (which I am not saying you should teach :-) I just remembered Shin-Yu Pai in a review, referred to this poem as a long poem, and which I had not previously considered.

Anonymous said...

Here's my Cantos suggestion. You should assign either the Pisan Cantos, which comes in an edition edited with very good notes by Richard Sieburth. They are the most personal of the cantos. Or you could look at just the first three cantos, which have an interesting revision history. Pound first drafted these while wintering with Yeats, and the first canto would eventually become that famous second "Hang it all, Robert Browning" canto. The Early Pound penguin edition reprints the original first three cantos, as they were first published in Poetry. (I hope I'm not getting annoying! xo JC)

Oliver de la Paz said...

What's a "Long Poem"? Well, for this class it's entirely about tenability . . . I'm not going to make a reader. I'm looking for book length projects, and I don't want students to spend too much money for their texts.

I want to give students a nice sample swath while remaining 1) pedagogically sound in a limited time frame and 2) sane.

Yes. Lookee at all them Modernists. There's a conversation here . . .

Rrrr said...

Favorite favorite contemporary long poem - migraciones by gloria gervitz. there's a beautiful english translation (the british printing is most faithful to her spacing) but are you only teaching long poems in original english?

Pamela said...

My favorite contemporary long poem? 60 cent Coffee and a Quarter to Danceby Judy Jordan. It's a knockout.

Anonymous said...

HI again OdlP, apologies for belated response, but I have just thought of the book length poem in 56 parts, An Architecture, by Chad Sweeney. BlazeVox published it last year. I think this book is a well-contained sprawl.

oscar bermeo said...

Have you read Jimmy Santiago Baca's Martín & Meditations on the South Valley?

It consists of two long poems that follow a character at two distinct junctures in their life. The writing is beautiful and the narrative arc is strong and confident without being overly-detailed or laborious.