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THE RETURN OF THE VICARIOUS MFA

Lacey used to do this over at the giant. But then she graduated. So now I figured, I'll do it. Regardless of interest. Alright. So.

ORIENTATION
Occurred. It did. Some of it I was glad for. A lot of it could have been skipped an replaced with the sentence "Look it up on the internet" because that is where information is found.
But anyway.
So I am here for poetry. I am going to poetry school. I have never been to poetry school. I have never studied poetry. Aside from things I've learned from the internet. Now that we've gotten that out of the way.
The poets are a diverse group. They are. There are about 22 of us. Or, between 20 and 22. I am not saying that I cannot count, just that maybe I didn't do so good a job of it.
Anyway. One of the poets was a guard in a corrections facility (which is another way of saying prison) and apparently has a network of knife scars all along his chest. His biceps are I think bigger than my thighs. He is from Puerto Rico. I think he has spent the last 8 years outside of Egypt. This may have been where he was a prison guard. Or corrections officer. Whichever. And so he has a wicked stutter. And he walked around New York reading that Lorca book about being in New York and he read it in all the places where it occurred. And he read Hart Crane's THE BRIDGE on the brooklyn bridge.
There is someone here from Florida who is an assistant editor for narrative.
There is someone here who has worked as a carny. As a barker for skee-ball games. And who spent time in Ghana.
There is someone here who spent time working a rural postal route in I guess rural Arizona.
There is a dude here who grew up in Torino (Turin, whatever, this is America, the fuck do I know anyway, at least I'm capitalizing things now right?) and went to northwestern and is really well tanned and wears flip flops and jeans and polos and his hair looks like it just knows what to do and sticks with it and he's spent the past few years working various corporate jobs and the motherfucker loves the shit out of poetry.
There's a girl who reminds me of all the cheerleaders/field hockey players I knew in high school, which is not a negative, just that. I don't know. It seems like they decided to pick 22 different poets. And I find this really exciting.

Anyway orientation was two days and lots of hours and the only big things I took away from it were as follows:
Heidi Julavits is really attractive.
In John Haskell's class, he likes to read things and also to speak out loud, and that is what will happen in said class. (this was his entire speech about what his workshop will be like. He said "I like reading things. I like speaking out loud. This is what we'll do. Thanks." and sat down.)
Sam Lipsyte said something like what I am about to type: Sam Lipsyte said that in his workshop your job will be to lead you stories to the promised land. And he said that it is possible that you will die, alone, out there in the desert, before being able to rescue your people, but that maybe, just maybe, you will be able to make sure that they manage to get to the promised land, even though you have died, alone, in the desert.
Victor LaValle said that some of us may be constitutionally incapable of enjoying ourselves, but for those of us who are not, that maybe we should figure out how to get some enjoyment out of this writing thing, since it is what we seem to maybe want to spend the rest of our lives doing.
[There is a vast array of fiction faculty. Most of the nonfiction faculty said something along the lines of "Well, I mean, what is non-fiction? Is it just that-which-is-not-fiction? Because I mean, what is that anyway? How can it just be that-which-isn't?" Or some variation on that. No offense nonfiction people. But I get it. I do. Nobody understands you. I guess if you were a poet, you could go write a poem, all about your feelings of sadness and misunderstanding. I don't know. I don't know what to tell you. But one of you was really attractive and wearing a low cut dress. Whatevs.]
And Sarah Manguso said that in her workshop, that it was for maybe people who felt more comfortable saying that they were writers, because that's what we're all supposed to be anyway, and a sentence is just another way of saying something. And then she talked about how her office hours were available primarily for anyone that wanted to discuss Etymology.

After this they gave us pizza and they gave us wine. But there were nearly 100 of us, and the majority of the faculty, probably a bit over 20 or something like that maybe.

And then they ran out of wine, so a bunch of poets [or it was like 5, and then we lost 3, and then we gained 2, and I think after that we may have even lost another, I don't know] and so but we went to the bar down the street, which was cheap. 3 dollars for a pint of Lager. And at happy hour it's 2. So there were maybe 5 of us, and then within twenty minutes there were more than 12 of us. I think there was one fiction student. His name was Dave. And we drank for a bit, and then once everyone thinned out, we talked about Springsteen. And it was good. And everyone went home. Except I think the former corrections officer I heard that he maybe went to the village with some strangers and continued drinking. But I did not ask him about this the next day. There are two kids in the program fresh out of undergrad. Probably around a third of us are between 24 + 27. Maybe. I think they said the median age for the writing program was 28. Or mean. Whatever. Whichever. The one that means average. And so yeah. That's all. Welcome to Poetry School.


Classes start next week.

Alright so these are the classes that will be reported on. And by reported I mean I will post the readings, talk about what was read, and record anything really funny or mean or smart that gets said. Why? Because I'm vain and silly and I liked it before when it was done. I am still figuring out how to write about real things on a blog, which seems silly, but whatever. If anyone is reading this and wants more of a certain thing, leave a comment. Or less. Whatever. I will give the people what they want unless I don't want to.

But so yes. Classes to be reported on. With course descriptions. And reading lists. Because I just bought 8 poetry textbooks and plus Notable American Women and The Age of Wire and String

ok. so.

LECTURE:

Richard Howard
The Beginning of the End

In the last decade of the 19th century, the culture of the British Empire appeared to be marked by a sense of irretrievable decline. Readings from these seven English fictions will explore ways in which that perception of loss was cast into archetypal narratives, myths of transfiguration which sought to account for the culture’s troubles, if not to assuage its anxieties.

She (Rider Haggard) 1887
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Oscar Wilde) 1891
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (Conan Doyle) 1891
The Jungle Book (Rudyard Kipling) 1894
The Time Machine (H.G. Wells) 1896
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (R.L. Stevenson) 1896
Dracula (Bram Stoker) 1897

Close attention will be paid to representations in these works of three forms of fin de siècle decline—national, biological, and aesthetic—which late-Victorian degeneration theories utilized to “explain” how the nation’s twin obsessions with Decadence and Imperialism became intertwined in the iconography as well as the mythology of the period.

[Jekyll & Hyde to be read by Tuesday]


SEMINARS:

Timothy Donnelly
Poetry Seminar: Meter, Rhythm, and Form

This craft course is designed to provide students with a historical and theoretical overview of prosody in English and also to encourage original composition in—and informed experimentation with—traditional poetic meters and forms. Extensive primary readings will range from Anglo-Saxon alliterative verse through Modern free verse and onward to contemporary traditional and innovative work. Considerable emphasis will be placed on iambic pentameter (Surrey, Shakespeare, Marlowe, Milton, Wordsworth, Tennyson, Barrett Browning, Frost) and the history of the sonnet. Critical readings will be rigorous, including Derek Attridge’s The Rhythms of English Verse and John Fuller’s The Sonnet as well as excerpts from Antony Easthope’s Poetry as Discourse and Barbara Herrnstein-Smith’s Poetic Closure and On the Margins of Discourse. We will also examine a handful of key defenses and manifestos, including Sidney’s “A Defense of Poesie,” Shelley’s “A Defense of Poetry,” and Wordsworth’s Preface; crucial essays such as Viktor Shklovsky’s “Art as Technique,” Federico García Lorca’s “Theory and Function of the Duende,” and Paul Valéry’s “Poetry and Abstract Thought”; as well as shorter articles such as Louise Bogan’s “The Pleasures of Formal Poetry.” In the spirit of that essay, participants will be expected to question any received notion of traditional poetic form as merely restrictive. Weekly written assignments will aim to deepen the participants’ understanding and appreciation of traditional versification while affording them the opportunity to experience firsthand the aesthetic and expressive possibilities that traditional versification offers. Beginning in the third week, the third hour of every class will be devoted to an investigative workshop of students’ written work. The workshop will be ‘investigative’ insofar as our objective won’t be to provide editorial input towards the polishing and perfection of the individual work so much as to scrutinize its makeup, to perform an inquest into how and why the poet chose to make the poem the way he or she has chosen to make it.


READING LIST
- Poetic Rhythm [an introduction] by Derek Attridge
- Toward the Open Field [Poets on the Art of Poetry 1800-1950] edited by Melissa Kwasny
- The Making of a Poem [A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms] edited by Mark Strand and Eavan Boland

for tuesday: pp 1-62 of Attridge




Marjorie Welish
Avant-gardes, and Then Some: 20th-Century Experimental Poetry

This seminar will focus on poetry that seeks to revolutionize the word, the phrase and the sentence. Imagism, Vorticism, Russian Formalism, Toronto Research Group, Objectivism and its legacy in the provocatively named Language School will provide the core study, with meaningful side trips to the New York School and other relevant poetry. Emphasis on poetics will guide our understanding of the cultural strategies in utopian activism that would mandate formal invention.

Readings to be studied will include some of the works below:

Ezra Pound: Cantos: Cantos XIII and XIV
Gertrude Stein: Motor Automatism, from Tender Buttons
Mina Loy: from Love Songs to Joannes
Vladimir Mayakovsky: from Selected Poems
William Carlos Williams: from Spring and All
Louis Zukofsky: from All
Jackson MacLow: The Pronouns
Clark Coolidge: The Crystal Text
Christian Bok: Crystallography
Emmanuel Hocquard: This Story is Mine
Lyn Hejinian: from Oxota
Barrett Watten: Conduit


BOOKS I HAD TO BUY
- Five faces of Modernity [Modernism, Avant Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Post Mondernism] [these are listed on the cover descendingly with commas and i like that and wanted to note it] by Matei Calinescu
- Modernism [A guide to European Literature 1890-1930] edited by Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane
- Contemporary Poetics edited by Louis Armand
- Poems for the Millenium [Volume One From Fin-de-Siecle to Negritude] edited by Jerome Rothenerg and Pierre Joris
-The Contructivist Moment [from material texts to cultural poetics] by Barrett Watten


WORKSHOP

Sarah Manguso had us email her a poem- or poems- in-progress. I sent her the three below this.

anyway. thus begins The Return Of The Vicarious MFA, which will, theoretically, be posted every Friday.

3 comments:

Bryan Coffelt said...

The experimental poetry sounds good and fun.

daniel bailey said...

the best thing about grad school, so far, is being around such a diverse group of poets. i think that'll be a really fucking great thing, being influenced by all the badass people and their approaches that are completely different from mine. it sounds like you're in a good place.

Rose Hunter said...

I enjoyed this post! I put a link to it on my blog. Look forward to reading more.

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