Wednesday 21 May 2008

Long Poems : : : Major Forms Conference--Tony Lopez, "The Twentieth-Century Work in Progress" (16 May 08)

(A number of people have asked me how the conference went last weekend, so I thought I'd post some rough notes for a handful of the papers, beginning with the first plenary. The conference was held at the University of Sussex, 16-17 May.)

As the (poetic) work progresses over time, it must become a bildungsroman as it reflects the author's development, decay, interests, etc.

Inventing as we go the 20th C. work in progress to encompass war, displacement, Holocaust, etc.

Provisional approach necessary: "the sustained provisional."

American long poem: an epic that's lost the plot, e.g., Paterson, The Cantos.

The serial poem: e.g., Jack Spicer, Susan Howe, Michael Palmer--fragments working toward resonance; "meaning becomes a function of position." Cf. Andrew Crozier's The Veil.

The procedural long poem: My Life, Berrigan's Sonnets, Fanny Howe's Introduction to the World.

A successful long poem takes the audience's response into account as it develops. The poet needs to envision an intelligent reader to keep the poem interesting.

W. S. Graham's Nightfishing based on the sonata form. Connections to Coleridge's Rime, Hopkins' Wreck of the Deutschland--post-Christian figure who suffers, reaches a spiritual state.

Stein "irreducibly experimental"

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