Thursday, December 22, 2011

CSoP Weekly Salon: Two Sessions Only $100

The Chicago School of Poetics offers classes with video, audio, plus note and video sharing all happening in real time. We also have the ability to record online classes and replay them. Gotham Writers’ Workshop's online classes, by comparison, merely offer students the capability to comment in writing on one another’s work.

In addition to online classes, our Weekly Salon (click the link), for example, is relatively cheap: $50 apiece. Students can purchase as many workshops as they would like. A 20% discount even applies to bulk Weekly Salon workshop purchases:

2 Weekly Salon Workshops are $100 (no discount)

5 Weekly Salon Workshops for $200 (20% discount)

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Who Would You Like to See at Myopic Books in Chicago?

Seeing David Meltzer, Ron Silliman, Duriel Harris, and Bill Berkson read at Myopic were some of the best moments of my writing life.  Sometimes it blurs together a bit because so many poets have read at Myopic Books in the past few years but now I would like to know. Who would you like to see read at Myopic Books?

Some of the poets who have read at Myopic Books over the past 6 years:

Aaron Fagin, Abraham Smith, Adam Fieled, AD Jameson, Allyssa Wolf, Amy De'Ath, Andy Fitch, Arpine Grenier, Barry Schwabsky, Bernadette Mayer, Ben Doller, Bill Allegrezza, Bill Berkson, BJ Love,  Brandon Downing, Bruce Covey, Carlos Soto-Román, Carol Novack, Carolyn Guinzio, Carrie Etter, Carrie Olivia Adams, Catherine Wagner, Charles Ries, Charlie Newman, Cheryl Clark Vermeulen, Chris Glomski, Chris Green, Christian Hawkey, Chuck Stebelton, Cole Swensen, Connor Stratman, Crag Hill, Dan Godston, Dana Ward, Daniel Borzutzky, Daniel Nester, Dave Awl, David Meltzer, David Trinidad, Debrah Morkun, Diane Wakoski, Donna Stonecipher, Duriel Harris, Ed Roberson, Edmund Berrigan, Eileen Myles, Ela Kotkowska, Elizabeth Harper, Erika Jo Brown, Erika Mikkalo, Erin Teegarden, Farrah Field, Francesco Levato, Gabriel Gudding, Garin Cycholl, Garrett Brown, Gary Sullivan, Gina Myers, Hugh Behm-Steinberg, Ish Klein, James Bellflower, James Shea, James Yeary, Jason Bredle, Jason Pickleman, Jen Tynes, Jennifer Karmin, Jenny Boully, Jeremy Davies, Jerome Rothenberg, Jesse Seldess, Jessica Savitz, Jill Magi, Joel Craig, Joel Duncan, Joel Felix, Johan Jönson, Johannes Göransson, John Beer, John Gallaher, John Keene, John Tipton, John Wilkinson, Jon Cotner, Jon Thompson, Joshua Adams, Joshua Marie Wilkinson, Judith Goldman, K. Silem Mohammad, Karyna McGlynn, Katy Lederer, Kerri Sonnenberg, Kevin Coval, Kim Gek Lin Short, Kostas Anagnopoulos, Krista Franklin, Kristin Dykstra, Kristina Jipson, Kristy Bowen, Kristy Odelius, Larry Sawyer, Latasha Nevada Diggs, Laura Carter, Lea Graham, Lewis Freedman, Lina ramona Vitkauskas, Linh Dinh, Lisa Fishman, Lisa Janssen, Liz Marino, Luis Valadez, Luis Valadez, MacGregor Card, Mark Tardi, Mark Wallace, Marvin Tate, Matvei Yankelevich, Maxine Chernoff, Megan Volpert, Melissa Severin, Michael Robbins, Michael Robins, Michael Rothenberg, Mirela Tanta, Monika Rinck, Nate Slawson, Nathalie Stephens, Nathan Hoks, Nico Vassilakis, Nina Corwin, Oni Buchanan, Patrick Culliton, Patrick Durgin, Paul Hoover, Philip Good, Philip Jenks, Ralph Hamilton, Ray Hsu, Reb Livingston, Robert Archambeau, Robert Fernandez, Roberto Harrison, Roger Bonair-Agard, Ron Silliman, Sandra Doller, Sarah Riggs, Seth Landman, Simon Pettet, Simone Muench, Stella Radulescu, Stephanie Anderson, Steve Halle, Thax Douglas, Tim Kinsella, Tim Yu, Todd Heldt, Tom Orange, Toni Asante Lightfoot, Tony Trigilio, Tyehimba Jess, Uljana Wolf, Wayne Miller, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Zach Harris

1564 N. Milwaukee Ave Chicago, IL 60622
Conveniently located near the Damen Blue Line CTA stop.
Contact: 773.862.4882 / Larry Sawyer, curator

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dylan Thomas: Wild Child

I was recently marveling over this poem by Dylan Thomas, "Who are you who is born in the next room..." (published in 1945) from a series of pattern poems called Vision and Prayer because of what it does or enacts so successfully and in doing so transcends its arbitrary form. I don’t have the entire series in front of me, so it may be that this particular shape has some relevance that isn’t obvious when it’s viewed out of context because apparently these shapes form a series. What seems most interesting to me is how this writing works so well to set a scene and create a poetic equation with an ending that comes as somewhat of a surprise in a visceral way with such depth of metaphor, while it almost completely resists its own rhyme scheme. It provides an almost perfect balance between meaning and form that still manages to raise interesting questions because of certain effects. I’m drawn at the outset to the two somewhat cavernous caesuras. The first comes after “In the birth.” It seems appropriate that the poet creates this gap in the line after the word birth (where the reader nearly falls in), and the second occurs after the word “alone.” Both caesuras offer a perfect physical illustration of what is being described because the reader is forced to involuntarily pause after these words, which not only gives them emphasis but reemphasizes in a very graphic way the visual provided a few lines earlier with “I can hear the womb opening.”

From the poem’s opening there is a double meaning established because dramatic tension is established succinctly in the first three words. The intentional ambiguity almost has the reader questioning himself or this might also be Thomas asking the question of himself.

Dualities cascade throughout it. In the idea that Jesus was man and god. The two physically separated rooms exist showing the reader separate from what goes on in the other room and mention of a “wall thin as a wren’s bone” seems to underscore a difference between what the speaker perceives as the natural and unnatural world. “Wren bone” is also an anagram of “new borne.” Other imagery underscores an idea that this event on some level is holy but again, a duality within the structures finds the reader noticing a shift of perspective in the mirror image of the poem that begins as the lines reach a midpoint and then recede in the second half. The poem’s structure mimics what is described, i.e., the poem itself is turning or shifting. These lines could be read in multiple ways “In the birth/bloody room/unknown to the …” or “In the birth bloody/room unknown to the…”

The poem, although only 71 words, does start with a vision and end with a sort of prayer but is Thomas describing his own thoughts on his own life that started with a similar birth but resulted in the many physical, mental and domestic problems which plagued him for years? Or is this a meditation on our relation to the natural world and the unnatural, as represented in the poem, is the overlay of religiosity that is placed upon us that begins at birth. Thomas encapsulates a prime moment, birth, which serves as a hinge between these two “worlds” i.e., the natural and the world of civilization and all the socialization that civilization entails.

As the wall is a part of the natural world or natural order, the infant is not, yet anyway, and the point is emphasized internally as the rhyme scheme pairs “wild” and “child” together as a final example of the mysterious duality that ripples throughout what might have been a poem that Thomas wrote in one sitting in a very short amount of time.

The visual pattern creates interesting parallels that otherwise might not have existed had the poem been left aligned in a ragged block. The final interesting afterthought is that the form provides the reader with an object to be stared at, which it gives it an element of spectacle. Because of its symmetry the object simultaneously resembles a box, a shape of some sort like a pyramid reflected in water, a crucifix, the human form with arms outspread, and finally and obviously a diamond. Sixteenth Century alchemist Agrippa also include this shape and its opposite, which would look like a jagged hourglass, in his “Of the Proportion, Measure, and Harmony of Man’s Body,” which included diagrams of geometric shapes aligned with the human form. These two shapes comprise the ebb and flow of the alternating patterns in the book.

By starting with such an unanswerable question, by including such vivid imagery (e.g., heart print), and ending with such a violent twist the poem registers like a minor earthquake and we stare down into its dark abyss and wonder what it meant to the author, as well as what it might mean to everyone facing the riddle of human existence.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Announcing The Chicago School of Poetics at

The Chicago School of Poetics site is now up (rollover and click it) and ready for inspection. Thanks, Poetry Foundation, for mentioning it on Harriet.

Face-to-face classes will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E Washington St., Pedway East and online classes require only some basic computer system requirements for the 8-week long classes. You’ll need a computer with:
• Macintosh, Windows, or Linux operating systems.
• A microphone (most have one built in) for voice conferencing.
• A web cam for video conferencing.
• An internet connection (preferably high-speed, like cable or DSL).
and that’s it! Sign-up is quick and easy via PayPal.

Rollover and click on each of the following to read more:

Poetics: Level I

Erasure to Automatism

The Poetry of Cubism and discovering your

Personal Archeology.

Register today. Class size is limited for maximum instruction.

Monday, May 09, 2011

New ::: Myopic Poetry Series summer dates

Saturday, June 11
- Udayan Das, Connor Stratman

Saturday, June 18 - Peter O'Leary, Ray Bianchi

Saturday, July 9
- Stella Radulescu, Nina Corwin

Saturday, July 30 - Andrea Rexilius, Megan Martin

Saturday, August 6
- Christeene Fraser, Anthony Madrid

Saturday, August 13 - Mike Hauser, Noelle Kocot

Saturday, August 20
- Laura Goldstein, Chris Glomski

Saturday, October 8 - Chicago Calling w/Dan Godston: including Jen Besemer, Tim Armentrout, Eric Elshtain, Gregory Fraser, Nick Demske, Dolly Lemke, William Allegrezza, Philip Jenks, & the Next Objectivists

Friday, April 29, 2011

New interviews up at Big Bridge and WWAATD

The new issue of Michael Rothenberg’s Big Bridge includes an interview with me about my new book, Unable to Fully California plus

The letters of Stan Brakhage and Michael McClure, the poetry of Lew Welch, and poetry by Basil King, Sandy Berrigan, Clayton Eshleman, Anne Gorick, Susan McKechnie, Robert Kelly, J.J. Blickstein, and many others, along with translations of Rimbaud by Bill Zavatsky, Rilke by Art Beck, Nakahara Chuya by Jerome Rothenberg, and 25 Venezuelan poets translated by Rowena Hill and reviews of books by Valery Oisteanu, Louis Armand, Bobbi Lurie, Ami Kaye, Jack Foley and A.D. Winans among many other features. I’m still pouring through it all.

Also: check out this mini-interview in Daniel Nester’s We Who Are About to Die where I discuss 1970s vintage leather jackets, Stanley Kubrick, Santorini, my new book Unable to Fully California, Pocahontas, 1920s Paris, and Billy Joel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


For Immediate Release


Contact: John Beer


The Chicago Poetry Project presents

a staged reading of the play

March 4-6; Fri, Sat 8pm; Sun 3pm.
The Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton St., 773.871.9046

The Dust of Suns

by Raymond Roussel

Trans. Harry Mathews

French poet, novelist and playwright Raymond Roussel (1877-1933) faced almost universal incomprehension and derision during his lifetime, for works that neglected traditional character and plot development in favor of the construction of elaborate descriptions and anecdotes based on hidden wordplay. While the premieres of his self-financed plays caused near-riots, admirers included Surrealists Andre Breton and Robert Desnos, who called The Dust of Suns (1926) “another incursion into the unknown which you alone are exploring.” Roussel never enjoyed the posthumous fame of his hero Jules Verne, but he has exercised a powerful fascination upon later writers and artists including the French Oulipo group, Marcel Duchamp, John Ashbery, Michel Foucault, and Michael Palmer. New editions of his novels and poetry are forthcoming this year from Princeton and Dalkey Archive.

Like much of Roussel’s writing, The Dust of Suns has a colonial setting. Against the backdrop of fin-de-siecle French Guiana, a convoluted treasure hunt unfolds. Along the way, Roussel fully indulges his penchant for bizarre invention and juxtaposition. The Frenchman Blache seeks his uncle’s inheritance: a cache of gems whose location lies at the end of a chain of clues that includes a sonnet engraved on a skull and the recollections of an albino shepherdess. Meanwhile, his daughter Solange is in love with Jacques—but all Jacques knows of his parentage is a mysterious tattoo on his shoulder...

This script-in-hand performance of Roussel’s play, directed by John Beer, with design by Caroline Picard, features an array of Chicago writers and artists. Performers include: James Tadd Alcox, Joshua Corey, Joel Craig, Monica Fambrough, Sara Gothard, Judith Goldman, Samantha Irby, Lisa Janssen, Jennifer Karmin, Jamie Kazay, John Keene, Jacob Knabb, Francesco Levato, Brian Nemtusak, Travis Nichols, Jacob Saenz, Larry Sawyer, Suzanne Scanlon, Jennifer Steele and Nicole Wilson.

Where: The Charnel House, 3421 W. Fullerton St., 773.871.9046

When: March 4-6; Fri, Sat 8pm; Sun 3pm. ALL PERFORMANCES ARE FREE.