CFP: 3rd CAAP Convention, Shanghai December, 2014

The 3rd Convention of the Chinese/American Association for Poetry and Poetics will take place in Shanghai from December 18 to19, 2014. This convention will be hosted by Shanghai University and co-sponsored by Central China Normal University, Foreign Literature Studies, Forum for World Literature Studies, University of Pennsylvania, and China Three Gorges University. Papers are called from scholars all over the world.

I. Conference Topics
1. Modern and contemporary poetry and poetics
2. Meaning/politics of poetic form
3. On and off the page: Poetry, society, culture
4. Poetry in the genealogical perspective: the evolution (and devolution) of poetic genres
5. Poetry and poetics in the context of comparative literature and comparative arts
6. Poetry in the global context: Diffusion, exchange, conflict
7. Poetry and new media
8. Poetics of translation

For the full call for papers at Charles Bernstein’s blog, click the image above.

A Common Strangeness runner-up for ASAP 2013 Prize

headerASAP

Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness has been named runner-up for the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present 2013 Book Prize. ASAP’s citation reads:

In this remarkable book, comparative literature outdoes itself, becoming fully contemporary and transnational: Edmond innovates a genuinely global poetics that discovers the fullest cultural crossings among Chinese, Russian, and U.S. poets. Reading correspondences among Yang Lian, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko, and Lyn Hejinian, Bei Dao, Dmitri Prigov, and Charles Bernstein, among others, Edmond aims to give a field “still shaped by the history and conceptual and political structures of the Cold War” the resources to read the “appositional, transnational, and multicultural poetics of our current era”; its focus is contemporary poetry’s “common commitment to forms of strangeness,” which disallow old assertions of what unites or foreignizes the world’s populations.  And its great advantage is a sense of literary culture equally powerful in its three languages, which translates to interpretive insight uniquely adequate to the world today.

Three Reviews of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

Three new reviews of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness have appeared. Brian Reed’s “Chances of Rhyme“:

The words transnational and globalization appear frequently within scholarship on contemporary poetry, but so far there have been few sustained attempts to narrate recent developments across more than two language-groups or geographical regions. … In the present era of pervasive budget cuts, curtailed language instruction, and increased productivity demands, who has the training, time, and resources required to engage in even more broad-based comparative research?

At least one person can now be said to fill the bill. Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature recounts the history of avant-garde poetry from the late 1960s to the turn of the millennium in the United States, the People’s Republic of China, and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. Edmond concentrates on six figures: Yang Lian and Bei Dao, menglong shiren (Misty Poets) who defied Cultural Revolution-era restrictions on writerly freedom; Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Dmitri Prigov, samizdat poets whose careers extend into the post-Soviet period; and Lyn Hejinian and Charles Bernstein, founding members of the avant-garde movement known as Language poetry. Throughout, Edmond shows himself to be thoroughly grounded in the relevant literary traditions, and whether a given poem is written in English, Russian, or Mandarin, he proves able to supply the kind of intensive, patient, erudite textual analysis that one associates with the Yale school back in its heyday.

And Lisa Samuels’s “Bridges Across Silos“:

Jacob Edmond’s refreshing book focuses on concerns common to avant-garde poetry and comparative literature, specifically poetic material produced primarily in the 1980s and 1990s by six writers from China, Russia, and the United States and comparative literature’s interest in negotiating dialectics between self and other. Edmond’s introduction indicates his interest in sighting a ‘third alternative’ to Maurice Blanchot’s 1971 concept of ‘common strangeness’: Edmond wants to write within zones ‘between the common and the co-man, between speaking of others—of exile literature, modernism, or world literature—and speaking to them: responding to how we can know or write about each other in the first place.’ … The book stays true to the dialectical energy promised in its introduction. That energy shifts its sails in relevant directions, and it consistently concerns matters both brought forward and presumed as background to this work.
While many comparative literary studies have used textual and contextual analysis to examine authors and literary movements so as to show commonalities and differences, Edmond employs a different methodology. The domestic political and literary contexts, although a constant presence in the background, are only lightly sketched, and focus is directed on the concerns that have shaped the work of these authors in the world, as members of a transnational poetic community. Translation is yet another diffused activity that touches upon the selected creative and conceptual practices, providing an extra motive for gathering these poets together in this book.

Jonathan Stalling Reviews Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

200MCLC has published Jonathan Stalling’s review of Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature. Here’s how it begins:

To begin with, Jacob Edmond’s new book, A Common Strangeness, is anything but common and signals what I hope will be a new trend toward more ambitious studies of late-modernist to contemporary poetics on a global scale. While it might be premature to announce the arrival of a “global poetics,” there is a pressing need for a space to explore this genre specific cognate of World Literature, a space to reimagine what in China operates under the title: comparative poetics (比较诗学). This is a robust area of academic research in China, yet it tends to reduce poetry and poetics to the pre WWII traditional canon: Plato, Aristotle, and Longinus; Sidney, Pope, and Johnson; Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Emerson; Poe, Arnold, and Eliot; and perhaps Frost, Williams, Hughes, and, because it is China, Pound. In English literary criticism today, however, the term “poetics” often demarks poetry discourses consciously connected to avant-garde practice along the vectors of a more radical canon: Blake, Whitman, Stein, Pound, Zukofsky, Olson, Mac Low/John Cage to Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian and others associated with the so-called LANGUAGE poets from the 1970s forward through neo-conceptual poetry, etc … One should also mention that scholars tracking trends in contemporary poetics in the West have remained problematically Anglophonocentric and have largely failed to attend to poetic shifts on a global scale unless such shifts are explicitly conversant in the idioms of innovative English-based poetics (including those within the Sinophone sphere). So while no single volume could ever hope to connect the multitudinous and heterogeneous threads of a “global poetics,” A Common Strangeness succeeds in moving in this direction in part by offering a critical lens (strangeness) through which to view poetry on a global scale.

Click the image above for the full review.

Nicholas Reid on Jacob Edmond’s A Common Strangeness

Nicholas Reid has reviewed Jacob Edmond’s study of world literature & contemporary Chinese, Russian, and American poetry, A Common Strangeness. Here’s how it begins:

In the lives of poets, as in the lives of most other people, there has been a great change of consciousness worldwide over the last three or four decades. We have gone from a contest between capitalist West and communist East (with an ill-defined “third world” bending this way and that in the background); to the apparent dominance of capitalism and the market, even in officially “communist” China (with the rumblings of nationalist particularities in the background, especially in the Muslim world). We are also aware of how different cultural exchanges have become in the age of the internet, high-speed communication and a pervasive and internationally-marketed “pop culture”. With varying degrees of approval and disapproval, and with varying and competing definitions, terms like multiculturalism and globalism are now tossed around.

The debate over the “universality” of literature – including poetry – is not a new one, but it becomes more acute in this new global context. By definition, poetry is language, but languages are not universal. Traditionally, the universal was seen to be best expressed in the particular – hence, a poem “understood” worldwide was nevertheless rooted in a particular language and culture, and much of even the most “universal” poem was always untranslatable for those outside that particular language and culture.

How are poets, especially avant-garde poets, responding when they are now – like nearly everybody else – also wired in to an international ‘global’ culture?
Click on the image above for the full review.

Yunte Huang’s SHI: A Radical Reading of Chinese Poetry

On his blog at Jacket2 Charles Bernstein has posted Yunte Huang’s 黃運特introduction to his 1997 book SHI: A Radical Reading of Chinese Poetry. Huang has since become one of the foremost figures in Chinese – American literary studies, translating Ezra Pound and Michael Palmer into Chinese, and writing the scholarly books Transpacific Imaginations and Transpacific Displacement, as well as the recent Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History. Here’s how Huang’s intro to SHI begins:

This book is not an attempt to grasp the “essence” of Chinese poetry, nor is it an endeavor to produce an over-polished version of English that claims aesthetic superiority over other works in the same field. It grapples rather with the nature of translation and poetry, and explores poetic issues from the perspective of translation and translation issues from the perspective of poetry. Looking from such a vantage point, translation is no longer able to hide itself in our blind spot; instead, the often-invisible face of translation is being brought to the foreground of poetic texture and the traces of translation’s needle work are being exposed to the reader’s view. With its agenda hidden, translation is too often a handyman for the metaphysical, mystical, or universal notion of poetry. When emerging from obscurity, translation becomes an ally with poetic material and enacts the wordness of the words. And this book strives to strengthen the alliance between translation and poetry through various textual and conceptual means that I will discuss now.

Ernesto Livon-Grosman on Jerome Rothenberg’s anthologies

Technicians of the Sacred: A Range of Poetries from Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania, Second edition, Revised and ExpandedOver at his Jacket2-hosted blog, Charles Bernstein has posted Ernesto Livon-Grosman’s commentary on Jerome Rothenberg‘s anthologies, particularly Technicians of the Sacred. I’ve offered my criticisms of anthologies, particularly anthologies of contemporary Chinese poetry, but I wanted to post Livon-Grosman’s points about the place of translation in Rothenberg’s anthologies, as a way of pointing to what else might be possible with anthologies–and with translations–even when not dealing with broad samples selecting from many writers, but with single-author collections, such as for instance soemone like Xi Chuan:

For an anthology that recovers, makes visible, and associate texts that were never seen before together, Technicians is less concerned with the search for an origin or the construction of a genealogy than with a practice. It is the search for a “know how,” for the techné that is anticipated in the title, that would make possible to read multiple texts not only together but in conjunction by way of those hinges that Jerry created. It does so by reconnecting Dadaist and Maori poetry and bringing together for the first time poets such as Lorca and Klebnikov for whom translation is one more way of writing. In fact, translation is for this anthology the meeting point of theory and practice where the way we read the poems is also the way we write the anthology and by doing so it retrieves a use value without ever loosing its metaphysical value. This is crucial because it would be tempting to confuse collecting with accumulating but what prevents this from happening is precisely the techné that shows that the sacred is always material, that there is no separation. Translation is for this anthology what supports its view of poetry as synchronic coexistence that frees us in the reading of the poems, among other things, of national boundaries.

Jacob Edmond’s Common Strangeness Blog

Poetry translator and scholar Jacob Edmond has a new blog to promote his forthcoming book, A Common Strangeness: Contemporary Poetry, Cross-Cultural Encounter, Comparative Literature (forthcoming from Fordham University Press). Using Walter Benjamin‘s take on Baudelaire and flânerie to take a new look at World Literature, Edmond reads Chinese poets Yang Lian 楊煉 and Bei Dao 北島, Russian poets Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Dmitri Prigov, and Americans Charles Bernstein and Lyn Hejinian. The blog, and especially the book, both promise to be fascinating reads.

While Xi Chuan has less to do with exile, often central to critical discussions of Bei Dao and Yang Lian, I’m sure that Common Strangeness, and common strangenesses, will also be helpful in providing tools to understand both the Chinese and international aspects of the writing of Xi Chuan.

Dialog on Poetry and Poetics: Chinese / American Poetry Conference

Writing from Wuhan 武汉, where we’ve just wrapped up the CAAP conference titled and celebration of Marjorie Perloff‘s 80th birthday, with keynote speakers Charles Bernstein, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Chung Ling 鍾玲 (who translated two books of classical Chinese poetry with Kenneth Rexroth in the ’70s).

I spoke on the sociology of Chinese poetry translation in English (here’s the outline of the program from Bernstein’s blog), but amidst all the impressive talks and presentations, the most valuable part of any conference will always the conversations and connections made in lobbies and over meals.