The Short Takes on Long Poems conference, from which I just returned on Monday, was one of the better short academic conferences I’ve attended–in part because it wasn’t entirely academic, but a mixture of explications of long poems and recitations or performances of long poetry as well. I showed up late, so unfortunately had to miss seeing my friend Jacob Edmond‘s presentation (which was very funny, according to all reports), but I met his father Murray Edmond, as well as Hilary Chung, and had great run-ins with John Tranter, Pam Brown, Robert Sullivan, Susan Schultz, and Rachel Blau DuPlessis, all of whom, I’m happy to say, were not only enthusiastic about my presentation on Yang Lian 杨炼 and Xi Chuan, but also looking forward to the release of Notes on the Mosquito. In the afternoon of the second day, we spent the afternoon on Waiheke island–a forty-minute ferry ride from Auckland–writing a physically long poem on the beach. Given that Chinese poet Gu Cheng 顾城 had lived and committed suicide on the island, I commemorated him in my section of the poem with his most famous lines, 黑夜给了我黑色的眼睛 / 我却用它寻找光明.
At the end of the month I’ll be traveling to New Zealand for a conference, where I’ll be presenting on what happens to Ezra Pound’s notion of the “ideogrammic method” when it shows up in Chinese “epic” poetry, specifically the works of Yang Lian 楊煉 and Xi Chuan. Jacob Edmond has written up some of the details and participants on his Common Strangeness blog: