All posts filed under: Afterwords

Event reviews from around the region

Afterwords: AWP 2014 // Superlatives

by Rich Smith, Contributing Writer For all the general debauchery, hedonism, hooliganism, missed drinks, missed sleep, frowns above triple digit bar tabs, poetrybomb readings, skipped panels, hangovers, retroactive hangovers, I still managed to read, hear, and talk about a whole lot of exciting contemporary poetry and prose. Here’s a roundup of the best moments from the best AWP I’ve ever been to. Best Quote About Seattle: I’m torn between “You mean there’s more than one pie place?” and “That’s the most beautiful tree I’ve ever seen—no, that one is!”

Afterwords: AWP 2014 // Beaker Full of Sarah Shotwell

by Sarah Shotwell, Contributing Writer On Sunday afternoon at SeaTac Airport, I stood in line to board a rickety little plane half-full of writers bound for Los Angeles. It was all too easy to spot them: they had purple-stamped canvas bags slung over their shoulders. They were slowly thumbing expired editions of Tin House and trying to cram conference materials into over-stuffed carry-ons. They were silent and pallid and greasy. Earbuds were stuck in their ears. They shared the countenance of a bunch of introverts, well over capacity. The 2014 Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference, hosted by the University of Washington Creative Writing Program, drew more than 10,000 outsiders to Seattle last weekend. Since 1972, AWP has pulled its unwieldy community of writers, publishers, teachers and readers together under one roof for a long weekend of paneling, browsing, networking, reading, and partying. The conference also is the host to the largest book fair in North America, where MFA programs attempt to draw applicants, and where publishers and foundations come to hawk subscriptions, promote …

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.