All posts filed under: Afterwords

Event reviews from around the region

Afterwords // Naming the Animals: Stephen Burt on The Nearly-Baroque in Contemporary Poetry

By Rich Smith Poetry Northwest Contributing Writer The talk was held in a conference room on the second floor of the Communications Building on the UW Campus. Weird room! (Good light, though. Lots of lamps.) Weird time! 6:00PM on a Friday, a fact that was not lost on Mr. Burt. However, he drew a good crowd—maybe 30 people, nearly all with notebooks on their laps. Burt speaks clearly, loudly, and with authority. He was a casual dresser, though, in a striped long-sleeve shirt, blue jeans, clear-framed glasses, Chuck Taylor’s with colorful laces, and sporting silver nail polish on modestly trimmed nails. I thought the fingernail polish was a nod to the theme of the talk, and I was admiring his commitment to the bit, but when I asked him about the polish later on in the evening he said he just liked to wear it. In short, I was ashamed. Especially three days later, after reading his beautiful essay about the newly released anthology Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics. Anyway, the …

Afterwords // Poetry Press Week

by Carrie Kahler Poetry Northwest Staff Writer   Poetry Press Week did not last for a week.  Nor did it showcase presses.  It did, however, have shrimp and a dj. Inspired by New York Fashion Week, Liz Mehl and Justin Rigamonte asked five poets to “use ‘model’ readers to present their newest work to a hand-selected audience of press, publicists, editors, and literary journals.” The poets each designed their own show and secured their own readers, but kept the results secret until sending their representatives down the runway. As the dj faded out, Mathew Dickman opened.  He included seven poems and alternated between simple readings by men and women dressed in black, and performances that enacted each poem’s meaning.  “Take ten paces,” says a reader, and two performers take ten paces. The enactments were the most memorable and served two poems well—“Daily Monster Dance” and “My Childhood is Your Childhood.”  “The Sea, The Ocean, and The Coast,” suffered from an awkward interpretive dance performed nearly in the lap of an older audience member.   This pattern …

Afterwords // The Present Tense: Joshua Beckman, Matthew Dickman, and Dorothea Lasky Read at the Henry

by Jack Chelgren Special Projects Intern   It’s a long shot, but if someone were to ask me what contemporary poetry looks like, I would direct them to hop in a time machine, turn the knobs back to around 1:45 Saturday October 19, and then hustle to the Henry Art Gallery auditorium. There, in the front row, my querier might spy poets Matthew Dickman and Dorothea Lasky all abuzz on Instagram, snapping photos of just about everything—including themselves Instagramming each other—Dickman garbed modestly in a powder-blue shirt, loose jeans, and galoshes, Lasky dazzling in supersized jewelry, a leopard-print dress, and multicolored suede high-heeled boots. The curious chrononaut might also pick out Joshua Beckman, poet and editor at Wave Books, chatting off to the side, shuffling folded pages of poems in his hands, and looking quite a bit like folk star Justin Vernon in a beige stocking cap and loose pinkish shirt. Of course, the object of this clock-thwarting jaunt would not be to observe these poets’ personal fashion or Instagram hijinks—contemporary though they may be—but …

Afterwords // Deep Circles: Mary Jo Bang Talks Translation at Hugo House

It is not that Bang rejects the challenges and responsibilities typically associated with translation, for even as she radically questions and suspends many long-held assumptions about how Dante should read in English, she does so ultimately in the hope of creating a more truthful rendering of the text. Bang discussed in her lecture how many translations of the Inferno are written in elevated, renaissance-style English—a trend she speculates stems from translators’ desire to acknowledge the poem’s age and the disparities between modern English and fourteenth-century Italian. Yet Bang argued that such piously old-fashioned renderings of the Inferno were flawed from the start, since the fourteenth-century English of Dante’s contemporaries differed drastically from the seventeenth-century Elizabethan variety favored by these translators. A truly historically accurate translation of the Inferno in this sense would have to sound a lot less like Milton or Shakespeare and a lot more like the Middle English of Chaucer.

Afterwords // Unauthorized Whitman

by Jack Chelgren Poetry Northwest Staff   The Unauthorized Readings: Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself August 13, 2013 at Fremont Abbey Arts Center   On Thursday night, poets Adam Boehmer, Christine Deavel, James Hoch, and Janie Miller kicked off a new poetry series, the Unauthorized Readings, with a hearty and variegated performance of Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.”  A crowd of about fifty gathered in the basement of the Fremont Abbey Arts Center, where the four readers took turns delivering selections from the poem, each with no small measure of zeal.  Theirs was a skillful and imaginative rendering of Whitman, with each poet’s distinct reading style highlighting the competing tones that cycle throughout the work: playfulness and hysteria, didacticism and uncertainty, mysticism and sexuality.

Afterwords // David Wagoner at Seattle Arts & Lectures

by Jennifer Crowder Poetry Northwest Contributor David Wagoner appeared January 16, 2013 as part of SAL’s Poetry Series, reading from After the Point of No Return, (Copper Canyon Press, 2012). An audience of devotees nearly filled the Nordstrom Recital Hall and Wagoner, an icon among the northwest poetry community, did not disappoint. The poems in this latest collection are reflective in a manner that only a half-century’s backward glance could provide.  Although Wagoner ranges across familial relationships, generational transition, nature, what was done and what left undone, collectively, the poems have an atmospheric stillness and balance.  They offer clear-eyed, unsentimental, but generous insights. The most striking poems are those about the difficulties of aging. Wagoner writes of finding that his body “…disobeyed / its own commands to its own purpose,” and his tone in these poems blends regret, disbelief, levity, and transformation.  In “Listening,” Wagoner considers hearing loss:  “…vibrant / with the white noise and the equally beautiful / white silence of snow.” Most poems reveal a poet who, if not yet fully at home …

Afterwords // Last Year in Quotes! (We’re Glad We Took Notes.)

January 5 Jason Witmarsh, Writers on Writing Lecture Series “Occupy that critical part of your brain–the thing that says, ‘this is useless’–and give that part of your brain a crossword puzzle, while the other part writes.” (J.W. on: writing in form) January 6 Rebecca Albiani on Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience, The Frye “William Blake couldn’t stand falsity in anyone . . . and so he was a difficult companion.”  March 11 Barbara Courtney, Tiny House Reading Series, hosted by Emily Johnson “You will have to learn . . . how to dispense with teachers, even me.” April 14 Troy Jollimore, Seattle Arts & Lectures “Any really good poet has to be philosophical . . . if you pursue any field long enough you eventually end up doing philosophy.” April 16 Andrew Feld, Open Books “I don’t think there are that many people these days writing narrative-poems-in-heroic-couplets-that-are-visionary-quests. So, I sort of enjoy doing that.” April 22 Gregory Laynor, Tiny House Reading Series “I think I’m more of a worry doll than a poet . …

Afterwords // The Falconer-Poet

Andrew Feld’s new book of poems, Raptors, revolves around his time working in a bird rehabilitation center in Oregon, where he learned to do things like “trim a golden eagle.” Last night at Open Books he explained that what drew him to write poems about raptors is that it’s such a rich metaphor, such a “flexible and generative emblem,” whether for the beloved, for the wilderness, or for the unknowable. “You have them, they’re domesticated, but you never have the slightest indication that they love you.” Feld read mostly out of the new book, but also shared one brand new, birdless poem, which he described as an obituary from the future: “Unsurprisingly, I’m writing a whole new series. I never seem to be capable of writing just one poem.”