Close Encounters: Contemporary Poets and Writers
This seminar is focused on the work of seven visiting poets, writers, and artists. Each visitor will have two weeks devoted to their work: an initial week of discussion among participants and a class visit. The class visits will consist of a reading followed by discussion. The class visits will serve also as digital sound recording sessions and we plan to put the recordings on the web as part of our new PennSound web site (in some ways extending the radio series LINEbreak). As a result, part of the seminar will be devoted to planning for the recordings, which we hope will become popular for those interested in the work of the visitors. The class itself will conduct the radio-like interviews with the visitors, so those enrolling are signing up to be part of the show. The emphasis of the class is on contemporary, innovative poetry, but visitors will include one visual artist, a best-selling horror/thriller writer, and two literary artists who push the bounds between conceptual art, poetry, prose, and essays. We will focus on the poetics and essays of the visitors as well as on their poetry, visual arts, and fiction. Assignments for the class will consist of journal responses and a range of interactive writing experiments for "reading through" the authors through imitation, translation, rewriting, and re-arrangement. The tentative list of guests include: Yoshitomo Nara, whose works of cartoon trauma will be shown this Winter at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; David Antin, talk/performance poet and art critic; Lyn Hejinian, influential and stunning poet, editor, and publisher (and professor at UC-Berkeley), at Penn as part of the Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar; Kenneth Goldsmith, imperessario of Ubu web and conceptual/art poet par excellence; Peter Straub, author of some of the most popular and compelling genre novels of the period, including two famous collaborations with Stephen King; and Penn's own poets extraordinaire: Susan Stewart and Bob Perelman. For updates on the course and more details, got to the course home page: http://writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/syllabi/285.html.