Modern & Contemporary American Poetry

26th November 2015

A compilation of the poems analized in MODPO –

collage road to dream

25th November 2015

A shared link for BioArt

Bioart: An introduction

Bioart: An introduction

A shared link of video lessons on Contemporary Art –

Replying to a peer with this Acrostic

Roberta Acrostic

R –eturning poetry compliments,
O –ne confident charming presence,
B –ehold MODPO, learning openly
E –verlasting experience unfold,
R –emind poets brilliance
T – ake true love of Art — sublime
A – gain and again and again.

Another Acrostic for Bob Kaufman

K- aufman beat poet, born in New Orleans
A- rtist of lyrical jazz genius,
U- nknown soul, devious scorn
F –abulous harmonic complexities
M-aster of improvisation, ironic
A-surreal school of poets icon
N-umb troubled life, vow of silence,
beacon of poetry celebration.

More borrowed verses from portuguese modernist poets:

Versos emprestados (2)

Tribute to some of the poets of this MOOC – Walt Whitman, Allen Ginsberg, Lorine Niedecker, Wallace Stevens, Geneviève Taggard, Claude MacKay, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Broks, Bob Kaufman, Anne Waldman, Cid Corman.

A collage of Poets' Verses

A dutch peer blog with her poems – Ina Schroeders –

A great video on poetry metrics and a tribute to the Beatles lyrics –  and another on Inception review –

From the Univ. California digital archive of Edison’s phonograph cylinders:

A tanto amore (opera, 1907)
Lincoln’s speech at Gettysberg (1913)
Ahahi hoi (hawaiian music, 1909)
Crazy blues (1921)


23rd November 2015

Trying a new free App SNIP and wishing to explain something about «found poetry» in portuguese, I came across a very interesting project on «portuguese experimental poetry» a digital archive of authors and respective works on ‘concrete poetry’, ‘digital poetry’, ‘sound poetry’, ‘visual poetry’, ‘video poetry’ –

This is my experiment with SNIP –

22nd November 2015

About Poetry and Art, a collage of Pablo Neruda’s photo and words

My collage on a William Burroughs photo

collage burroughs


21th November 2015

A line of discussion started lately on ‘copyright’ issues. Many of the pieces of writing by Conceptualists are based on pre-existing texts, rearranged, and some like Kenneth Goldsmith clearly defends this use as a statement of ‘uncreativity’.

In this line of discussion some posts were pretty extensive, namely one from Nancy Lange, who selects some excerpts from  Poetry Foundation Guide  . I copied this section:

Poets employ a variety of techniques to create Found Poetry. Common forms and practices include:

  • Free-form excerpting and remixing: Poets excerpt words and phrases from their source text(s) and rearrange them in any manner they choose
  • Cento: Poets unite lines from other authors’ writings into a new poem. The original lines remain intact; the main intervention comes in arrangement and form. Read more about centos. (Nothing about legality/copyright.)
  • Cut-up: Poets physically cut or tear up a text into words and phrases, then create a poem by rearranging those strips. Arrangement may be intentional or haphazard. Read more about the cut-up method of composition.

Found Poetry and Fair Use

The Found Poetry aims to adhere to section two of American University’s Center for Social Media’s “Code of Best Uses in Fair Use for Poetry,” copied in its entirety below


DESCRIPTION: What is now called remixing is a contemporary version of allusion or pastiche and has long been an important part of poetic practice. In general, it takes existing poetry (or literary prose) as its point of reference. In some cases, however, the stuff of poetic remix may come from other sources, including (but not limited to) advertising copy and ephemeral journalism. Members of the poetry community also recognize that technology has extended the range of techniques by which language from a range of sources may be reprocessed as new creative work.

PRINCIPLE: Under fair use, a poet may make use of quotations from existing poetry, literary prose, and non-literary material, if these quotations are re-presented in poetic forms that add value through significant imaginative or intellectual transformation, whether direct or (as in the case of poetry-generating software) indirect.


  • –Mere exploitation of existing copyrighted material, including uses that are solely “decorative” or “entertaining,” should be avoided.
  • –Likewise, the mere application of computer technology does not, in itself, render quotation or re-use of an existing poem fair.
  • –If recognizable in the final product, quotations should be brief in relation to their sources, unless there is an articulable rationale for more extensive quotation.
  • –The poet should provide attribution in a conventionally appropriate form unless it would be truly impractical or artistically inappropriate to do so.

Found poetry is a type of poetry created by taking words, phrases, and sometimes whole passages from other sources and reframing them as poetry by making changes in spacing and lines, or by adding or deleting text, thus imparting new meaning. The resulting poem can be defined as either treated: changed in a profound and systematic manner; or untreated: virtually unchanged from the order, syntax and meaning of the original. The concept of found poetry is closely connected to the revision of the concept of authorship in the 20th century: as John Hollander put it, “anyone may ‘find’ a text; the poet is he who names it, ‘Text'” (

Examples of Found Poetry

found poetry example 2found poetry example 1

found poetry example 3found poetry example 4

My experiments with Found Poetry:

An excerpt of Joseph Conrad «The Secret Agent»:



Unusually early,
dewy freshness.
A night of peaceful slumber,
glances of alertness,
a solitary woman,
with skin of wild beast,
glorified by a stare.
An atmosphere of powdered
old gold,
a dull effect of rustiness.
of opulence and luxury,
shallow enviousness,
inert fanaticism,
fanatical inertness.

An excerpt of Marquis de Sade «Les Crimes de l’Amour»

collage found poetry Marquis de Sade

La Paix

La jalousie, l’ambition,
toutes ces causes,
un incendie intérieur,
déchiré au dehors.
Envie de la paix,
une paix désirée
de toutes puissances.
Prêts à lutter,
les lauriers incertains,
contre les ghirlandes de myrthes
et de roses.

An excerpt of Henry James «Greville Fane»



Amid the big waves of the present,
offering my arm to a celebrity,
a dull, kind woman.
She rested me from literature,
a torment,
a gift out of hand,
doubtless transaction,
placidly unconcious,
dissociated imagination.

An excerpt from Eça de Queirós «A Cidade e as Serras»



A inconsciência e a impassibilidade
da Natureza,
perdido num mundo não fraternal,
fruto na ponta compassiva
d’um ramo,
raízes não cessam de sugar
da universal fecundação.

An excerpt of James Joyce «Ulysses»


Dim tide

Woodshadows floated silently
the morning peace,
mirror of water whitened,
white breast of sea,
wavewhite wedded words
shimmering on the dim tide,
shadowing the bay
in deeper green.
Silent with awe and pity
she was crying
love’s bitter mystery.
Sing in the pantomime
_I am the boy
that can enjoy

20th November 2015

The last writers and pieces of writing of this last week are language experiments, which I didn’t find particularly worth of much analysis:

Shorter American Memory of the Declaration of Independence, by Rosmarie Waldrop –

Vase Poppies, by Jennifer Scappettone –

Tracie Morris performing “Africa(n)” –

19th November 2015

Michael Magee «Pledge» is an experiment with the sounds of the words that constitute the american pledge of alliegence-

Michael Magee experiments with searching in the Internet on Angie Dickinson (actress) plus other terms of Emily Dickinson’s poetry and rearranges the outputs into poetry. – . This approach is designated by «Flarf poetry».

Flarf poetry is an avant-garde poetry movement of the early 21st century. The term Flarf was coined by the poet Gary Sullivan, who also wrote and published the earliest Flarf poems. Its first practitioners, working in loose collaboration on an email listserv, used an approach that rejected conventional standards of quality and explored subject matter and tonality not typically considered appropriate for poetry. One of their central methods, invented by Drew Gardner, was to mine the Internet with odd search terms then distill the results into often hilarious and sometimes disturbing poems, plays and other texts. –

Magee explains the process:
«The poems in this book were written during an intensive period of reading and writing in 2003 and 2004. I was curious as to whether I could, using some of Emily Dickinson’s forms, evoke in my own readership that combination of shock, bewilderment, excitement, pleasure (a process of dis-orientation and re-orientation) that I imagined Dickinson’s earliest readers must have felt when reading her work. I was cognizant of the fact that Dickinson’s poems, in both form and content, remain surprisingly volatile despite the various historical attempts to render them more placid. This is especially true of those invisible poems that continually escape anthologization and discussion, many of which stray far from English hymnology. So, I reread Emily Dickinson’s Collected Poems and, as I did, performed Google searches using the phrase “Angie Dickinson” combined with bits of syntax from Emily Dickinson’s poems: “Angie Dickinson” + “Hope is”. Likewise I would sometimes integrate rhyming words into the search: “Angie Dickinson” + “with a” + “chimp” + “limp”. Each poem involved a series of such intuitive searches followed by fine stitching together, the mouse replacing the needlepoint.» –

A Brief Guide to Flarf Poetry –

My Michael Magee’s Susan Howe’s Emily Dickinson (’s Jen Bervin’s Billy Collins) –

Playing with GIFs

A GIF of Anne Waldman, based on 24 photo variations with effects, produced in GIF online tool Ezgif and hosted in Imgur –

Another GIF with photos of poets we’ve addressed in this MOOC –

Another GIF taken from Kenneth Goldsmith in Youtube with –

Another Gif with Jackson Mac Low book –

GIF with Amiri Baraka –

18th November 2015

Caroline Bergvall collects several translations of Dante’s Inferno in «VIA», by different translators along the years.-
This process highlights the nuances and choices of words and how difficult and controversial a translation may turn.-

Exploring Bergvall’s work I found very interesting her Drift exhibition/installation based on text. A live piece for solo voice (C Bergvall), percussion (Ingar Zach) and 3D visual text (Thomas Köppel). A performance inspired by the language and themes of the Seafarer, an anonymous Anglo-Saxon poem from the 10th century. A contemporary meditation on migrancy, exiles and sea-travel. 2 min excerpt
DRIFT excerpt 2, 2013 –

Talk with Caroline Bergvall, 2010 –

Installations –

There’s a great Museum of the Portuguese Language in Brazil (São Paulo) which has no books, but words and writings and multimedia are displayed in a very creative way, it promotes interactivity with the visitor, a real celebration of language – I wish we had one in Portugal, all the varieties of portuguese around the world and great writers from so many portuguese communities.

17th November 2015

Erica Baum is a photographer that makes experimental poems out of language she finds , with visual randomness, her photographic work delving into and mining found sources of text and image.

Cardcatalog –  she takes photographs of archival material, mostly found in public and university libraries. Her photographs depict coincidental terms, grouped alphabetically in an index or catalogue card system, offering up intriguing juxtapositions that read like poetry.

“Fragments of an index reveal the unexpected fictions, rhythms and poetry hidden with a book’s internal system of reference… A tension is created between what is absent, the book, and what is present, the concatenation of sounds and meanings wrenched from their source….”

Erica Baum Catalogue imageerica baum catalog

Dog Ear – Baum photographs pages marked by the invasive measure of turning down a page’s corner to remember where one stopped reading. The images she creates turn into small geometric poems, with lines of text colliding in the overturned corner of the paper. These little visual poems are remniscent of the Dadaist movement and the structurally orientated literature that was produced by its champions.

Erica Baum C. Slips Erica Baum Fallout_0


The image that you assemble hovers between an abstract composition made with thin lines that cut the shot vertically and fragments of figurative illustrations that pop up from the pages of the book. To me it is as though an abstract painting suddenly opened up into flashbacks of memory. Can you tell us about the relationship between lines and photographs, pages and words? –  I want the expressions on the figures to suggest the contents of the book as imagined by the figure, or as the viewer imagines it to be. It’s as though the abstract lines and fragments of text represent the thoughts of the figure caught inside the book. So the visual abstraction represents this conceptual abstraction.

Handwriting Analysis by Erica Baum –

A collage of news on the Paris terrorist attacks

collage news Paris atacks


News collage- Paris attacks (1)

News collage Paris multiple languages

16th November 2015

Christian Bök, canadian poet,  wrote «Eunoia» – (flash version) –, consisting of five chapters, each one using only one vowel.

Each chapter is written using words limited to a single vowel, producing sentences like: “Hassan can, at a handclap, call a vassal at hand and ask that all staff plan a bacchanal”. The author believes “his book proves that each vowel has its own personality, and demonstrates the flexibility of the English language.” The work was inspired by the Oulipo group, which seeks to create works using constrained writing techniques.-

The main section of the book consists of five chapters: “A”, “E”, “I”, “O” and “U”. In each of these chapters, the only vowel used is the same one as the title. For example, in Chapter A, the only vowel used is “A”. There are other rules given to each of the chapters.

  • Each of the chapters must refer to the art of writing.
  • Each of the chapters has “to describe a culinary banquet, a prurient debauch, a pastoral tableau and a nautical voyage.”
  • All the sentences must have an “accented internal rhyme through the use of syntactical parallelism.”
  • The text must include as many words as possible. The postscript of the book says that each chapter uses at least 98% of the available words.
  • The text must avoid repeating words as much as possible.
  • The letter “Y” is unused.

The chapters are dedicated to Hans Arp, René Crevel, Dick Higgins, Yoko Ono, and Zhu Yu, respectively. The postscript of the book implies that Chapter E is a retelling of the Iliad.

The title eunoia, which literally means good thinking, is a medical term which refers to the state of normal mental health, and is also the shortest word in the English which contains all five vowels.

«Eunoia» – From Ancient Greek εὔνοια (eunoia, “goodwill”, literally “beautiful thinking”), from εὖ (eu, “well, good”) + νόος (noos, “mind, spirit”).

Dictionary definition of «eunoia» – Goodwill towards an audience, either perceived or real; the perception that the speaker has the audience’s interest at heart.


«Christian Bök belongs to this new breed of artist-scientists, not because he employs machines to do his writing or creates poetic devices that “respond to hugs” or chew through cables, but because he has, probably more than any other contemporary poet, attempted to set up strict procedural guidelines for his poetic practice. These guidelines are informed by post-structuralist theories of “recombinant” linguistics (in which letters and words are analyzed as molecules that behave differently in variable environments) and what Bök calls “robot aesthetics” (an imagining of how an artificial intelligence program might complete a poem in accordance with a complex algorithm)… (…) Whereas many artists are moving toward randomization, variability, collaboration, and the cult of infinite possibility, Bök spent seven years pursuing an elegant solution to a simple linguistic problem. He has produced a work that occupies a freakish yet masterful position in the development of twenty-first century literature.»

Christian Bök reads THE END OF THE INTERNET-

His graphic work – The Great Order of the Universe –

A conference at the Museum of Houston with conceptualist poets Christian Bok and Kenneth Goldsmith –

Graphic Notes

collage Christian Bök

15th November 2015

This last week is dedicated to the movement now widely known as conceptualist poetics or uncreative writing.

Kenneth Goldsmith is a provocative writer/poet who decides to transcribe every daily speech he records in varied situations.

collage kenneth Goldsmith

«Goldsmith is known for his conceptual, “uncreative writing” practices, which involve working exclusively with preexisting texts — altering them, remixing them, appropriating and repurposing them without credit to the original sources.-

«The process common to all three books of the Trilogy is transcription: transferring oral language into written language.In Weather, Goldsmith transcribes a year’s worth of daily weather reports from a radio station; in Traffic, he transcribes a twenty-four hour period of traffic reports at ten minute intervals; and in Sports, he transcribes an entire Yankees-Red Sox baseball commentary. This kind of appropriation and reframing has many precedents in twentieth century creative (or uncreative, if you will) practice, and Goldsmith himself has pointed out many of these — Dada, Conceptual Art, Fluxus, Pop Art, Language Poetry — in fact, Goldsmith’s remarkable Ubuweb can be seen as an ongoing charting of this territory.»

«The idea behind Kenneth Goldsmith’s latest installation of “text art” is disarmingly straightforward: record everything spoken by the artist over the course of a week and cover a gallery’s walls with the transcription, preserving every syntactic glitch, every conversational cul-de-sac and “um.” Confronted with the clutter of “real” speech (not to mention its content, which might prove even more embarrassing than its stammers and mumbles) » –

«Author description: Soliloquy is an unedited document of every word I spoke during the week of April 15-21, 1996, from the moment I woke up Monday morning to the moment I went to sleep on Sunday night. To accomplish this, I wore a hidden voice-activated tape recorder. I transcribed Soliloquy during the summer of 1996 at the Chateau Bionnay in Lacenas, France, during a residency there. It took 8 weeks, working 8 hours a day.»

Kenneth Goldsmith reads poetry at White House Poetry Night –

«Like Cage’s Lecture, Goldsmith’s The Weather is a constraint-based, constructed composition.  Since Goldsmith’s source text, the hourly weather bulletins on 1010 WINS, New York’s all-news radio station, last exactly one minute, he has recorded a year’s worth of weather reports, one paragraph per one-minute report. Like Cage’s Indeterminacy, whose one-minute segments demand that some stories will be speeded up, others slowed down by “er” and “um” interjections so as to satisfy the constraint, the WINS time frame provides the form.   In a 2003 statement, Goldsmith tells us that he began to record the radio weather forecasts on December 21, 2002 and continued for exactly a year.  And, logically enough, the book has four chapters for the four seasons—Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall.» –
«To appreciate the beleaguered position that Kenneth Goldsmith finds himself in, you have to know that in 1997 or 1998 three avant-garde poets, one of them Goldsmith, drinking in a basement bar in Buffalo during a blizzard, decided to start a revolutionary poetry movement, one that went on to endorse “uncreative writing,” a phrase and a field that Goldsmith invented.» –

Wasting Time on The Internet Professor Kenneth Goldsmith on CNBC –

14th November 2015

Trying a new tool that generates new images like in a dream –

My Ginsberg image

ginsberg deeper deeper

13th November 2015

Joan Retallack is a contemporary conceptual and experimental poet working on chance disjunctive operation poetry,  gathering titles of books she is discarding in the poem Not a Cage, which is dedicated to John Cage. (

 All the language in it is from books I was culling from the library. I made lists of sentences and phrases from beginnings and endings of books. I was culling a lot, so there were many more beginnings and endings on [my] yellow pad than ultimately went into the poem. I didn’t change any words or orders of words within the units I drew from the books, but did decide the length of each. The poem was composed with a combination of chance and intuitive composition on my part. “Not a cage” was a phrase that happened to be at one of the critical sites in one of the books. (Joan Retallack)

12th November 2015

Bernardette Meyer list of writings proposes many exercises, among which:

Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from a piece of writing: for example, eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own or another poem, for example a poem in our course; or take out all words beginning with ‘s’ in one or several of Shakespeare’s sonnets or any poem or poems from our course.

I decided to work on Amiri Baraka’s poem «Ka’Ba’ and select the adjectives and analyze if removed what changes were introduced in the poem.


A closed window looks down
on a dirty courtyard, and Black people
call across or scream across or walk across
defying physics in the stream of their will.

Our world is full of sound
Our world is more lovely than anyone’s
tho we suffer, and kill each other
and sometimes fail to walk the air.

We are beautiful people
With African imaginations
full of masks and dances and swelling chants
with African eyes, and noses, and arms
tho we sprawl in gray chains in a place
full of winters, when what we want is sun.

We have been captured,
and we labor to make our getaway, into
the ancient image; into a new

Correspondence with ourselves
and our Black family. We need magic
now we need the spells, to raise up
return, destroy, and create. What will be

the sacred word?

Thirteen adjectives were highlighted in bold and if removed change the meaning of the poem, for instance, four of them refer to ‘Black’ and ‘African’, a repetition, which identifies the ‘black people’.  The speaker/poet also capitalizes these adjectives which reinforces the importance of that identification.

If we read the poem without the adjectives it still sounds meaningful, except for one line ‘Our world is more lovely than anyone’s’, but if we remove ‘more lovely than’ it sustains a meaning ‘our world is anyone’s’.

However the adjectives are important for the meaning of the original poem, for instance:

closed window’ resonates to prison;

dirty courtyard’ qualifyes a poor neighbourhood, where black people live, an hyperbolic  image;

beautiful people’, black is beautiful, a praise of the race;

gray chains’ reinforces the dark imprisonment in poverty that black people suffer, another hyperbolic image;

sacred world’ pervades the irony of an unfair world not sacred at all for the black, but that needs to change in the future, the tense of the verb and the question mark formulates the question to end the poem. A reflective thought from the poet and a challenge for the reader. How to resolve a situation that needs to be fixed – an unfair and racist society.

The original poem is rich in imagery and symbolism, though written in accessible language and simple words, i.e.:

‘ Black people call across or scream across or walk across/ defying physics in the stream of their will’

‘sometimes fail to walk the air’

‘we sprawl in gray chains in a place/full of winters’

The poem conveys  pride in Black culture, a deconstruction of their negative image, and the hope of reinvention.

11th November 2015

Assignment – The Mesostic Let America Be America Again

The source for this mesostic exercise was the beautiful poem by Langston Hughes «Let America Be America Again», written in 1935 –, using as spine the poet’s own name.

Mesostic result:


The different results from the automatic app were hardly satisfying, so minor alterations were introduced to make it more meaningful. I don’t think it’s worth taking time to analyze this mesostic outcome, but rather focus on the original poem of Langston Hughes, which I loved to read.

Mesostic improved:


Hughes was a prolific writer, he wrote novels, short stories, plays and poetry. His poetry is addressed to the black people, using accessible language and themes. He writes, insightfully, about working-class black life in America from the 20’s through the 60’s, claiming his heritage to Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman. He was deeply engaged in the jazz world which influenced his poetry. He was one of the poets of the Harlem renaissance in the 20’s.

He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.

“My seeking has been to explain and illuminate the Negro condition in America and obliquely that of all human kind” (Hughes)

He confronted racial stereotypes, protested social conditions, and expanded African America’s image of itself; a “people’s poet” who sought to reeducate both audience and artist by lifting the theory of the black aesthetic into reality.

The poem «Let America Be America Again» speaks of the American dream that never existed for the lower-class American, the disadvantaged poor white immigrants, black slaves and Indians (red man) dispossessed of their lands.  In spite of criticizing the unfair life in America, the poem conveys a sense of hope for the American Dream, for freedom and equality.

The dreamers who built America fled persecution in Ireland, Poland, and England; they were torn from their homes in Africa, and they built the “homeland of the free” with their hands.  America used to be more about possibility than impossibility, but the African American experience in America was more about the latter. The speaker/poet yearns for an America that is new, fresh, and free.

Even though America has never been the “America” of the poet’s dreams, he is determined to make it so, to set it free from the ‘leeches’ who feed on people’s lives. The “humble, hungry, mean” citizens do not get to drink from the cup of plenty; despite hard work and ambition, they will always remain outside the margins of success and comfort.

In spite of all the inequality and grievances of the poor, the poem ends on an optimistic, powerful note of self-determination and perseverance. The speaker/poet wants America to truly live up to its values, as the land of the free and the land of opportunity.

He proclaims that “we, the people” must lift America out of the death, rape, and lies in order to redeem the country’s land, mines, rivers, and other natural beauty – that is what needs to happen before this land is “America” again.


Poem analysis –

Poem analysis –

10th November 2015

Jena Osman, “Dropping Leaflets” (2001) –

«On the Rumpus, Brian Spears explained the fascinating and unique appeal of Osman’s style in The Network, arguing that “it doesn’t look like poetry, and at times it doesn’t even sound like poetry, but the connections it makes and the way it envelopes me in language convinces me it can’t be anything but poetry.” » –

«Jena Osman wrote this poem not long after the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington. She was frustrated by the seeming meaninglessness of the statements made by administration officials during press conferences and as quoted in newspaper articles. So she “read the transcripts [of the press conferences, and the newspaper articles], printed them out, … tore them up, and then I stood on a chair, and then I bombed my office floor with them as if they were leaflets and the leaflets told me what to do.” “Dropping Leaflets” is thus a randomly assembled collage poem.» –

Comments of Jena Osman on the poem –

An attempt to do a poem with phrases taken from news online about the Eurozone Crisis

Eurozone Crisis

9th November 2015

Jackson Mac Low was a poet and composer, and a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works. He was also a painter and multimedia performance artist.

His poetry follows automatic experiences, constructing poems through chance methods, that turns the output often unreadable and meaningfulness.

«His work explores the intersections of language, structure, and music by systematically shuffling and silencing found and fragmented text. In an interview with Jacket magazine, Mac Low discussed his aim as a writer ‘to let what’s there be; especially letting words, linguistic units, be, not making them carry a burden of my thoughts, my feelings, or whatever.’»

He collaborated with John Cage and was involved witho the Language Poets.

Mac Low’s chart for the performance of “A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore” «A Vocabulary for Peter Innisfree Moore is a 22″ x 14″ drawing and performance score comprising 960 hand-printed words-the largest number of words appearing on a single surface in any of my Vocabularies. All of the words are spelled solely with letters that appear in the dedicatee’s name. No letter appears in any single word more times than it does in the complete name. The words were printed by hand in India ink on a white background with pens having nibs of several different thicknesses, so that many sizes of letters appear in the drawing. The words are oriented in many different directions, their placements on the drawing and the directions in which they read having been determined by chance operations. Reading all of the words necessitates rotating the sheet of paper.» (performance instructions)

Looking at this word drawing/painting of the 70’s, it reminds us of the «word clouds» that we produce with recent computer tools

vocabulary painting

Mac Low performance- Public Access Poetry (1978)

Mac Low in Budapest (1993)

Homage to Jackson Mac Low –

My experiences with Tagxedo word cloud tool merging the text (588 words) of the poem Stein 100 by Mac Lowword cloud stein 100 square green word cloud stein 100

8th November 2015

On this point the chapter 9 poets are unified in breaking from modernism’s implicit and often explicit claim of creative, a-world-in-a-poem-making genius. More experimental poets, conceptualists: Jena Osman, John Cage, Joan Retallack, Jackson Mac Low.

John Cage’s mesostic ‘Writing through Howl’
The term “mesostic” was coined by Norman O. Brown to describe the acrostic-like letter structures that John Cage used when writing short occasional prose-poems. These commemorative pieces were free verse structured by using an index of letters taken from the name of the dedicatee as a spine.

“Like acrostics, mesotics are written in the conventional way horizontally, but at the same time they follow a vertical rule, down the middle not down the edge as in an acrostic, a string spells a word or name, not necessarily connected with what is being written, though it may be. This vertical rule is lettristic and in my practice the letters are capitalized. Between two capitals in a perfect or 100% mesostic neither letter may appear in lower case. …. In the writing of the wing words, the horizontal text, the letters of the vertical string help me out of sentimentality. I have something to do, a puzzle to solve. This way of responding makes me feel in this respect one with the Japanese people, who formerly, I once learned, turned their letter writing into the writing of poems. In taking the next step in my work, the exploration of nonintention, I don’t solve the puzzle that the mesostic string presents. Instead I write or find a source text which is then used as an oracle. I ask it what word shall I use for this letter and what one for the next, etc. This frees me from memory, taste, likes, and dislikes, By means of Mesolist, a program by Jim Rosenberg, all words that satisfy the mesostic rule are listed. IC [a program that generates the I Ching numbers, available for downloading on the Net] then chooses which words in the lists are to be used and gives me all the central words, the position of each in the source material identified by page, line, and column. I then add all the wing words from the source text following of course the rule Mesolist does within the limit of forty-five characters to the right and the same to the left. Then I take out the words I don’t want. With respect to the source material, I am in a global situation. Words come first from here and then from there. The situation is not linear. It is as though I am in a forest hunting for ideas.” –John Cage –

Marjorie Perloff writes on Cages’ tribute to Ginsberg’s Howl –

My experiences with ‘mesostic’ based on the text of Kerouac’s novel, a wordplay like a puzzle:

a) spine ‘ON THE ROAD’


b) spine ‘KEROUAC’:


We are familiar with the Acrostic – a series of lines or verses in which the first, last, or other particular letters when taken in order spell out a word, phrase, etc.- Examples: 

Kerouac acrostic

Ginsberg Acrostic

John Cage used a computer program to play with words and it reminded me of an experiment I made in a previous MOOC, with an APP that generates combinations on our own inputs – N+7 Machine –

Experimenting a mesostic generator app, –



Another Mesostic App –



Mesostic generator –


7th November 2015

Harryette Mullen ‘Sleeping with the Dictionary'(2002) – –

Mullen was influenced by the social, political, and cultural movements of African Americans, Mexican Americans, and women in the 1960s-70s, including Civil Rights, Black Power, the Black Arts Movement, Movimiento Chicano, and feminism.

‘Sleeping with the Dictionary’ is a miscellaneous collection of verse and prose poems,  published in 2002, with a a riddle-like structure, a dense wordplay, with layers of meaning, working with the sound and the rythm of the words.The dictionary is a writer’s companion, collaborator and partner. Mullen is interested in the borderlines of language, where meanings contradict and overlap.

Allusive language to leave space for divergent interpretations of unknown readers. Often Mullen works improvisationally, sampling and collaging fragments of written and spoken discourse. She regards conventional expressions, such as clichés, proverbs, jingles, and slogans, as linguistic “readymades” that she recycles in her work. She likes to use puns and other kinds of polysemy and ambiguity to stretch the limits of meaning. She is working with something intrinsic to language, the fact that meaning is socially and historically constructed and that many words have more than one signification, often including culturally specific meanings particular to a social class, ethnic group, or other community constituted through shared understanding.(in

Graphic notes

collage herryetta mullen

An interview with the author –
Heidi Lynn Staples’s “Turning on the Language: Reaching Clinamen in Harryette Mullen’s ‘Sleeping with the Dictionary’” –
Licked All Over by the English Language: Harryette Mullen in Conversation –
The Last Book of Poems I Loved: Sleeping With the Dictionary by Harryette Mullen –
Lunch Poems: Harryette Mullen  –

6th November 2015

Emily Dickinson «My Life had stood – a Loaded Gun -»-

The poem’s theme is about life and death, both are tied up, one doesn’t exist without the other. It is not death that is powerful, but the ability to die. Symbolism in Night as Death and in Day as Life.
The voice of the speaker and the voice of the gun are identical throughout the poem.

The poem as a riddle, ambiguous.

The poem represents the poet’s most extreme attempt to characterize the Vesuvian nature of the power or art which the poet believed was hers. Speaking through the voice of a gun, Dickinson presents herself in this poem as everything “woman” is not: cruel not pleasant, hard not soft, emphatic not weak, one who kills not one who nurtures.

There’s a tone of anger and rage, an intense negative mood. Is Emily Dickinson expressing her rage at the restrictions on the woman poet? .As usual in Dickinson’s poetry there’s a number of interpretations in the ambiguity and metaphors, namely, ‘Life as a gun’, ‘Master’ as God or a Lover, ‘Yellow Eye’ as gun’s explosion.

Along the poem seems to be three settings: town – forest – house/bedroom

The rythm of the poem sounds like a chant, a hymn

…I think it is a poem about possession by the daemon, about the dangers and risks of such possession if you are a woman, about the knowledge that power in a woman can seem destructive, and that you cannot live without the daemon once it has possessed you. . . (Adrienne Rich)

A possible paraphrase of the poem in the following table


Graphic notes

collage dickinson Life Gun

Susan Howe wrote a a book in 1985, almost a prose poem, «My Emily Dickinson»,  that reflects the political, social, and cultural conditions that informed Emily Dickinson’s poetry.  Assemblage of meditations and citations from other works, compiled in an attempt to reconstruct Dickinson’s reading and poetic connections.

(excerpt) –

Analysis of the book:

Source – Poem’s analysis:

5th november 2015

Charles Bernstein «In a Restless World Like This Is»

A poem about restlessness, uncertainty, loss, confusion, wander. Nothing is sure or safe or indivisible, ‘rocks break’ life is fragmented.

Mentioning ‘it’ in the beginning of the poem, as the message never delivered, what cannot be reported, the meaning not grasped.

There’s a colloquial tone, but the language is allusive and ambiguous

Graphic notes

collage charles bernstein


Against NationalPoetry Month As Such, by Charles Bernstein –

Attack of the Difficult Poems  –

What Makes a Poem a Poem –

On the Fly: Charles Bernstein –

4th November 2015

Bob Perelman – «Chronic Meanings»

Another Language Poet with a poem that reflects on the nature of our existence, in a tone of elegy, with many words and phrases showing that darkness.

Poem with short lines, cut abruptely, inviting readers to fill in and make sense of ‘random’ words.

My Graphic Notes

collage bob perelman

A diagram with the negative words and frases

diagram bob perelman

Like performance poetry, language poems often resist interpretation and invite participation.
The “New Sentence” & “Chronic Meanings” –
The Chronicity of Meaning –
Jackson Mac Low on Public Access Poetry, Jan. 26, 1978  –
Jackson Mac Low –
Bob Perelman and others discuss “Chronic Meanings” –

Bob Perelman –

3rd November 2015

Lyn Hejinian, «My Life»

‘My Life’ can be considered an autobiographic prose poem, a structured composition in disjuncted sentences. The first edition is structured in 37 sections, each with 37 sentences, published in 1978 when the writer was 37 years old. Two more editions were published in 1986 and 1997, expanding the structure to the age of the author.

“My Life engages a dialectic between the disjunctive parataxis of its sentences and their potential for forming recoverable narratives. The text constantly negotiates not only between openness and closure but also between making and frustrating the sense” (Dworkin)

Collage of prose poetry, open form, autobiography, dream narrative, introducing gaps in linearity or no linearity at all, and inviting a reader to move in swirls and curves. All these inputs overlapping with each other lead to a conceptual blend, a disruption of the conventional blend.

My Life disrupts the conventional and simplified schema by omitting facts, places, and names and by rejecting the closure of linearity and chronology.

“Metonymy moves restlessly through an associative network in which associations are compressed rather than elaborated. Metaphor is intervallic, incremental—it exists within a measure. A metonym is condensation of its context” (Hejinian)

«Metonymy, whose core is ‘contiguity’, indeed triggers multiple ‘referentialities’. (Jakobson)

Her influential book-length prose poem, My Life, transformed our conception of what is possible in the prose poem and in autobiography. It is written in loosely chronological, non-narrative chapters, one for each year of her life at the time of its composition. Hejinian’s sentences here (and elsewhere), taken singly, are complex and elegant— reminiscent of 19th century fiction. They are self-contained, yet provisionally related, as adjacent neurons are, across a sparking gap. In their various conjunctions they recreate the ambience of a California girlhood at mid-century or raise questions about the veracity of memory and the ethics of representation.(Rae Armantrout &Robert Polito)

1997 edition: My Life and my life in the nineties – life as an ever-unfolding process of recapitulations and echoes, expansions and contractions, discontinuities, recontextualizations, and accumulations

Metonymy is a figure of speech in which a thing or concept is called not by its own name but rather by the name of something associated in meaning with that thing or concept.

Parataxis is a literary technique, in writing or speaking, that favors short, simple sentences, with the use of coordinating rather than subordinating conjunctions

METONYMIC COMPRESSION AND Mirror Blends in Lyn Hejinian’s My LIFE, by Ewa Chrusciel –
Lyn Hejinian –
What Lyn Hejinian’s Poetry Tells Us About Chance, Fortune and Pleasure, by Marjorie Perloff –
Meaning, Unmeaning & the Poetics of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E, by Suman Chakroborty –
Fractals in Poetry Project, by Ewa Chrusciel –

Eight justifications for canonizing Lyn Hejinian’s My Life –

Gaphic Notes

collage Lyn Hejinian

2nd November 2015

Ron Silliman, “Albany” –

This piece of writing is made up of 100 sentences, a kind of memoir, with no order, seeming random, like chunks of life. The reader is the one who has to do the work to interpret, to fill the connection between the sentences and find the meaning.

Graphic notes

collage ron silliman

Ron Silliman ‘BART’ –

The title of this writing piece refers to the subway system in San Francisco – Bay Area Rapid Transit – and it describes the author’s experience of travelling around on a holiday – Labour Day -a 5 hour (approx.) journey of observation and hand noting of people and places, taking trains in different stations and platforms.

It’s a formally innovative writing, since it’s a 10 page prose poem, with do pragraphs, in a continuous single sentence, but in a more linear and autobiographical tone than usual in Language Poets.
It follows a real time experience where hours and minutes are registered, recording the author’s  impressions as in a diary, a real time life experience with memories popping up.

My Graphic Notes

collage Ron Silliman BART

BART moves away from the Language Poetry aesthetics «A turning point occurred when he turned away from the minimalism and fractured syntax that marks his first three books and began to experiment with various forms of constraint and rule-governed procedures that led him to the writing of prose poems fashioned from juxtaposed, discontinuous units, a form which he came to call ‘The New Sentence.’ At the same time, he turned to a full-blown engagement with the everyday, as his writing began to obsessively document the daily, the ordinary, and the humble.» –

1st November 2015

A new chapter begins dedicated to the Language Poets.

The movement emphasizes the reader’s role in bringing meaning out of a work. They are postmodernists and their heritage  comes from Gertrude Stein, WCW and Louis Zukofski, Objectivists, Black Mountain School, Beats. This avant-garde group of the 60’s and 70’s includes the poets Leslie Scalapino, Stephen Rodefer. Bruce Andrews, Charles Bernstein, Ron Silliman, Barrett Watten, Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Rae Armantrout, Carla Harryman, Clark Coolidge, Hannah Weiner, Susan Howe, and Tina Darragh.

Their writing challenges the “natural” presence of a speaker behind the text; writing that emphasizes disjunction and the materiality of the signifier; and prose poetry, especially in longer forms than had previously been favored by English-language writers, as well as other non-traditional and usually non-narrative forms. Language Poets often force the reader into an uncomfortable metaphysical (and linguistic) space.

New York School poets like Frank O’Hara and the Black Mountain group emphasized both speech and everyday language in their poetry and poetics. In contrast, some of the Language poets emphasized metonymy, synecdoche and extreme instances of paratactical structures in their compositions, which, even when employing everyday speech, created a far different texture. The result is often alien and difficult to understand at first glance, which is what Language poetry intends: for the reader to participate in creating the meaning of the poem  (in

Language Poets «were interested in poetry that did not assume a syntax, a subject matter, a vocabulary, a structure, a form, or a style but where all these were at issue, all these were explored in the writing of the poem.  In the 70s, much of the then conventional poetry relied on the use of a consistent ‘voice,’ but if such-voice-centered poetry was rejected it wasn’t to deny voices or voicing or even speech but to allow them to be newly discovered in the poem» (Charles Bernstein)

The New Sentence is a term that is both descriptive of a writing procedure and, at times, a sign of literary-political proselytizing…. A new sentence is more or less ordinary itself, but gains its effect by being placed next to another sentence to which it has tangential relevance: new sentences are not subordinated to a larger narrative frame nor are they thrown together at random. Parataxis is crucial: the autonomous meaning of a sentence is heightened, questioned, and changed by the degree of separation or connection that the reader perceives with regard to the surrounding sentences… The new sentence, on the other hand, is defiantly unpoetic. Its shifts break up attempts at the natural reading of universal, authentic statements; instead they encourage attention to the act of writing and to the writer’s multiple and mediated positions within larger social frames. (Bob Perelman)

Language Poets approach resonates to Roland Barthes statement « We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the message of the Author-God). . . . The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. The writer can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others. . . . Succeeding the Author, the scriptor no longer bears within him passions, humours, feelings, impressions, but rather this immense dictionary from which he draws a writing that can know no halt: life never does more than imitate the book, and the book itself is only a tissue of signs, an imitation that is lost, infinitely deferred.»

In Foucault’s words: «Writing unfolds like a game that inevitably moves beyond its own rules and finally leaves them behind. Thus, the essential basis of this writing is not exalted emotions related to the act of composition or the insertion of a subject into language. Rather, it is primarily concerned with creating an opening where the writing subject endlessly disappears.
The author is now replaced by the “author function”–the function of a particular discourse– and the pressing questions about a given text become, not “What has [the author] revealed of his most profound self in his language?”, but “Where does [this discourse] come from; how is it circulated; who controls it?»

In their group manifesto “Aesthetic Tendency and the Politics of Poetry” (1988), for example, Ron Silliman, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Steve Benson, Bob Perelman, and Barrett Watten concur that “our work denies the centrality of the individual artist. . . . The self as the central and final term of creative practice is being challenged and exploded in our writing.” And, given the tedious and unreflective claim for the unique insight and individual vision that has characterized so large a portion of mainstream poetry, the case for an “alternative” poetics remains compelling.

“Albany” is a long prose paragraph made up of one hundred “New Sentences,” to use Ron Silliman’s own term, defined in a now well-known (and hotly debated) essay by that name. The “new sentence” is conceived as an independent unit, neither causally nor temporally related to the sentences that precede and follow it. Like a line in poetry, its length is operative, and its meaning depends on the larger paragraph as organizing system.”

“Albany” relies on parataxis, dislocation, and ellipsis (the very first sentence, for example, is a conditional clause, whose result clause is missing), as well as pun, paragram, and sound play to construct its larger paragraph unit. But it is not just a matter of missing pieces. The poet also avoids conventional “expressivity” by refusing to present us with a consistent “I,” not specifying, for that matter, who the subject of a given sentence might be. Who, for example, says “I just want to make it to lunchtime”? Or “Talking so much is oppressive”? Who believes that “Music is essential,” and, by the way, essential to what? Whose “carelessness has led to abortion”? Whose “best friend was Hispanic”?


Book Review «Under Albany», by Francis Raven –
On Ketjak, by Bob Perelman –

Manifesto Aesthetic Tendency and the Politics of Poetry –

31st October 2015

Invasion of the Body Snatchers, by Bernardette Mayer

The title of the poem refers to the movie with the same name, a sci-fi movie taken place in San Francisco, where a group of people discover the human race is being replaced one by one, with clones devoid of emotion.

The poem follows the features of NY School poetry, in what respects the listing of daily routines, in a quasi narrative way, “I do this I do that” style. The poem uses common words and simple language.

The poem setting is a domestic scene in 1976, and the theme of new motherhood – «Marie will be eleven months old» – «Marie’s bedtime is too long». It’s an intimitate confessional inner dialogue, a record-keeping and use of stream-of-consciousness narrative. The theme of «time» is also recurrent in the poem, the turn of the season to winter, the change to winter hour, which reflects on the daily routines. The time that is not enough to dedicate to other things beyond the baby.

There’s a correlation between the body snatchers that take over the lives and dispossess them of their previous emotions and the baby born that changes life and takes over previous time to do other things. Time becomes short, compressed.

The tone of the poem seems a little bit depressing – finding a seed in the bedroom that in the movie means death – but, there’s no time to waste with such thoughts and back to what is important – write letters and read books- to wonder about travelling (Travel Guide), to make some cookings for the family (Cook book), to read a biography of a mathematician, and a psychologist’s book about a boy brought up by wolves – a variety of themes, a way to escape daily routine, reading all at the same time.

Graphic notes

collage bernardette mayer

Bernardette Mayer suggestions for writing experiments –

30th October 2015

Ted Berrigan died in 1983 and is considered a late Beat and second generation of NY School Poets.

His poem 3 Pages is like a collage of words, listing daily routine activities of a bohemian, jobless fellow who rejects a conformity life.

It uses everyday language, simple, linear and direct. The poem has an intimate, confessional tone.

The verse lines are irregular, line breaks with different indentations, many spaces, highlighting a few lines with capitalization.

Graphic Notes

collage Ted Berrigan 3 pages

29th October 2015

Assignment 3 – Analysis of Frank O’Hara’s poem «Why I Am Not a Painter»

Why I Am Not a Painter

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
“Sit down and have a drink” he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. “You have SARDINES in it.”
“Yes, it needed something there.”
“Oh.” I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. “Where’s SARDINES?”
All that’s left is just
letters, “It was too much,” Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven’t mentioned
orange yet. It’s twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike’s painting, called SARDINES.

Why I Am Not a Painter, was written in 1957 by Frank O’Hara. The poem reflects upon the creative process. A casual moment in the life of artists, to address different types of art: poetry and painting, with a certain irony and bohemian glamour, the medium is the difference – words and paint
It is about the importance of not having a subject. The subject doesn’t matter. That’s straight out of Abstract Expressionism.

The original inspiration for the painting (ultimately called Sardines) is preserved only in the title of Mike Goldberg’s work, because paintings are made of paint, not words, and the process of painting may erase any of the artist’s preconceptions. And since poems are made of words, not ideas or colors, the orange that incited O’Hara exists only as the title of his work.

Poem full of reversals and sly surprises, a characteristic example of the New York School’s aesthetic of irony, ambivalence

The poem seems to address the differences but at the end also the similarities. They each start with the concept of an object, move between the depiction of an object and the structural arrangement of their material, and in both cases the initial subject matter is very different from the resulting content. The creative process is improvisatory. The poem and painting keeps changing and the product is found in the process. To arrive at the final product may involve a process of extraction or obliqueness.

The poem itself demonstrates the interdependence of abstract and representational modes. It gears on real names, characters and events, uses social conversation and colloquialisms. It is humorous and informal.
The effect of the poem moves backwards and forwards between stanzas, quasi-narrative dimension.  The poem deconstructs its temporal dimension through simultaneity.

In his “Personism: A Manifesto,” O’Hara critiques poets who force their reader to experience something that does not amount to what a “real” experience should consist of, when reading and referencing poetry.  It seems O’Hara’s “I do this I do that” poems do not truly consist of his thought process, but instead his poetry evolves out of the moment when he has “stopped thinking and that’s when refreshment arrives” (O’Hara).
O’Hara’s work is usually conversational and casual in tone. Mind the  movement of the line and  repeated structures “I drink; we drink.”, “I go and the days go by” in the poem. Most lines use enjambment, in a quasi-narrative prose.



Graphic notes

collage frank ohara why i am not a painter

28th October 2015

Barbara Guest the only women poet in the NY School group. One of the contemporary women experimental poets.

Her poems are known for their abstract quality, vivid language, and intellectualism. She believed that the subject of the poem finds itself through the writing of the poem and through the poet’s imagination. “Disturbing the conventional relations of subjects and objects, of reality and imagination, is one of Guest’s signature gestures,” noted Gizzi –

Poem ’20’ –

Graphic notes on Barbara Guest

collage barbara guest

New York School poets innovative approach to poetry was influenced by modern art, especially surrealism and abstract expressionism. Both dimensions of painting and music were incorporated in their poetry.
In poem ’20’ we can see see the free surrealist associations, mixed with dream and memories.
The structure of the poem is irregular with a surprising visual and musical ending 20 – castanets
My graphic notes in a simple powerpoint diagram

barbara guest diagram poem 20

Articles on Barbara Guest
A Sublime Sort of Exercise: Levity and the Poetry of Barbara Guest, by Arielle Greenberg –

27th October 2015

John Ashbery, New York School poet, renowned for his postmodern complexity and opacity, Ashbery’s work still proves controversial. Ashbery has stated that he wishes his work to be accessible to as many people as possible, and not to be a private dialogue with himself. At the same time, he once joked that some critics still view him as “a harebrained, homegrown surrealist whose poetry defies even the rules and logic of Surrealism” –

His poetry is dauntingly ‘difficult’, challenging in a strangely inviting way. Ashbery may be poetry’s first skeptical revolutionary. He is the first poet to achieve something utterly new by completely doubting the possibility—and the value—of capturing what the lyric poem has traditionally tried to capture: a crystallization of a moment in time, an epiphanic realization—what Wordsworth called “spots of time.” Ashbery has updated the lyric poem by rejecting this project, finding it fundamentally inauthentic…

Ashbery’s second radical move was to change the way the poet saw himself in relation to contemporary society. Though particular poems don’t have specific subjects, he may write more about America—and with a more persuasive ambivalence—than any of his peers…

Ashbery’s most famous rhetorical ambiguities—the odd, nonsensical language, the ever-shifting array of pronouns, the abrupt shifts in diction—are not totally without a center. He considers his poems to be, like Jasper Johns’ paintings, a kind of “organized chaos.”  (in The Instruction Manual-How to read John Ashbery, by Meghan O’Rourke )

His highly inventive, often enigmatic verse defies the conventions of logic, linear thought, and realism in an effort to deconstruct language and the paradoxical limits of verbal expression. Drawing attention to the fragmentary quality of unconscious thought and the creative process itself, Ashbery’s provocative linguistic experiments, narrative juxtapositions, and improvisational style illustrate the infinite possibility of multidimensional perspective and random experience…

Ashbery’s preoccupation with the indeterminate relationship between language, perception, time, and artistic expression is a prominent feature of his poetry. Influenced by French symbolist writers, modern abstract expressionist art, particularly the action paintings of Jackson Pollack and Robert Motherwell, and the avant-garde music of composer John Cage, Ashbery’s poetry derives from the post-logical literary and artistic traditions of the early twentieth century…

In the poem, “The Instruction Manual,” the speaker is a disenchanted technical writer who daydreams about a faraway trip to Guadalajara, suggesting the ironic tension between order and the longing to escape.

The poem “The Instruction Manual” begins “As I sit looking out of a window of the building,” which immediately raises questions. Why “the building” and not “a building”? After all, Ashbery didn’t specifically identify “the window.” And as he never completely identifies “the building” either, we must read this as being all buildings in all cities, “this building” being metonymic. But it’s more than that. “The building” has become personified into some dark imminence. Something from which the occupant, the ‘I’, is seeking to escape—in this case through daydream “Of dim Guadalajara! City of rose-colored flowers! / City I wanted most to see, and most did not see, in Mexico!”

From that point, Ashbery weaves a most detailed, realistic picture of this dream realm he has entered as he follows one of the boys “a little older, has a toothpick in his teeth.” And, in the end, “And as a last breeze freshens the top of the weathered old tower, I turn my gaze / Back to the instruction manual which has made me dream of Guadalajara.”
Graphic notes

collage john ashbery manual instruction

Poem «Some trees»

Some trees – indeterminate number – some specific or special trees.
Trees as metaphor for relationships
Trees join a neighbour, grow together, folding over each other, therefore they are amazing
The poem is about relationships. These people, whoever they are (we don’t know!), have arranged to meet as far from the world as they agree with the world. Their distance from the world, when they agree to meet, is equal to (or analogous to) their disagreement with the world. And they seem to be meeting under or near these amazing trees.

Their agreeing to meet is based on their disagreement with the world.
Juxtaposition – context and relation is everything

Trees speech – A kind of mime of nature.

The word “performance”  suggests a mask

How thought and feeling interact with the world to make art

Use of line enjambment

Ambivalence, hermetic, discontinuity and opacity

Graphic notes

collage ashbery some trees


26th October 2015

Kenneth Koch, another prominent poet of the New York School movement, also a playwright and professor, active from the 1950s until his death at age 77 (2002). – His poetry is entertaining and often a parody. The poem Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams is a parody to William Carlos Williams poetic aesthetics, though he was influenced by him, with a mocking tone to WCW’s poem «This is just to say».

Articles poem’s analyses:

Graphic notes

collage kenneth koch

25th October 2015

A new chapter is beginning with the New York School Artists, to start with Frank O’Hara a leading figure of the scene, poet and curator of MoMA. The New York School was an informal group of American poets, painters, dancers, and musicians active in the 1950s and 1960s in New York City. They often drew inspiration from surrealism and the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular action painting, abstract expressionism, jazz, improvisational theater, experimental music, and the interaction of friends in the New York City art world’s vanguard circle – Their poetic subject matter was often light, violent, or observational, while their writing style was often described as cosmopolitan and world-traveled. The poets often wrote in an immediate and spontaneous manner reminiscent of stream of consciousness writing, often using vivid imagery. They drew on inspiration from Surrealism and the contemporary avant-garde art movements, in particular the action painting of their friends in the New York City art world circle such as Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning.

The first poem belongs to Frank O’Hara and is an elegy to Billie Holiday’s death. The poem describes and catalogs trivial activities of an urban day, almost anti-poetic, when suddenly he bumps into the newspaper announcing Lady Day death, nickname of the jazz singer.

Articles with poem’s analises:

Graphic notes

collage frank ohara

Other poems dedicated to Billie Holiday

by Rita Dove

Billie Holiday’s burned voice
had as many shadows as lights,
a mournful candelabra against a sleek piano,
the gardenia her signature under that ruined face.

(Now you’re cooking, drummer to bass,
magic spoon, magic needle.
Take all day if you have to
with your mirror and your bracelet of song.)

Fact is, the invention of women under siege
has been to sharpen love in the service of myth.

If you can’t be free, be a mystery.

Song for Billie Holiday
Langston Hughes

What can purge my heart
Of the song
And the sadness?
What can purge my heart
But the song
Of the sadness?
What can purge my heart
Of the sadness
Of the song?

Do not speak of sorrow
With dust in her hair,
Or bits of dust in eyes
A chance wind blows there.
The sorrow that I speak of
Is dusted with despair.

Voice of muted trumpet,
Cold brass in warm air.
Bitter television blurred
By sound that shimmers–

A poem to «Lady Day» written by Oscar Peterson, playing Love Ballade –

Documentary on Billie Holiday – “The Many Faces of Billie Holiday”-

Another poem of the collection Lunch Poems, of the time Frank O’Hara was curator at the MoMA – A Step Away from Them

Graphic notes

collage frank ohara a step away from them

Poem analyses –

24th October 2015

I’m looking at the poetry from New Zealand, shared by a peer – and it’s been a delight to read this poem with so many Maori language words, completely unknown to me:

Kara Mete
run pukeko run

you burden me with your woe
the waiata of the Tui
is my Kuia karanga
Tui whoosh around my head
Calling a wananga

the Kotare sits regally
upon the power line
he is a noble warrior
from days gone by

the Ruru calls at night
my Tupuna cry
under black sky

the realms are interwoven
where the Moa
still roam

fear not where you have been
but where you may go
run Pukeko run

«Pukeko» bird –
«waiata of the Tui» Maori song-
« Kuia karanga» – Maori rituals –
«wananga» education institution –
«Ruru» – owl in Maori
Kotare – NZ bird
«Tupuna» – ancestor
«Moa» – NZ big bird

I love MOOCs for these special moments, of people interacting from different parts of the world and sharing rarities, beyond the syllabus.

23rd October 2015

Jayne Cortez  died in 2012, she was na African-American poet, activist, small press publisher and spoken-word performance artist whose voice is celebrated for its political, surrealistic and dynamic innovations in lyricism and visceral sound. Her writing is part of the canon of the Black Art Movement (

Jayne Cortez’s poetry is a revolt against a racist society and its norms, which she sees as exploitive and destructive. There is another facet to her poetry, however, in her celebratory poems about black and African themes and people.

Jayne Cortez provides a literary link between the dignity and bitchiness of the earlier blues queens and the empowered voices of the later black feminist poets because she was able to deploy excess without being silenced by it.

Cortez theorizes from her scars by speaking on behalf of third world people from the simultaneous vantage points of both spokesperson and sister worker. Her poetry focuses on the abuses third world people face collectively: the exploitation of their labor, their bodies, and their land.

Cortez is one of the more “tonal” readers of poetry among contemporary artists. Continuing the poetics of the Beats and of Olson’s projective verse, she writes her lines in breath units, and the measures of these units are usually derived from African-American music. In public readings, Cortez tends usually to read these lines in descending pitch sequences. She reads a first line, organized around one tone and then reads the next descending from a lower starting pitch. Her lines are, in this sense, chantlike, allowing for melodic effects within the chosen tonal range of the individual line. Additionally, Cortez has from her earliest days as a poet taken music as both the subject matter and the aesthetic correlative for her writing.

Articles: (life and poetry) (on Cortez’s poetry) (a tribute to Jayne Cortez)


Talking about New Orleans –

Jazz Fan Looks Back –

Afro Poets –

There It Is

And if we don’t fight
if we don’t resist
if we don’t organize and unify and
get the power to control our own lives
Then we will wear
the exaggerated look of captivity
the stylized look of submission
the bizarre look of suicide
the dehumanized look of fear
and the decomposed look of repression
forever and ever and ever
And there it is

collage Jayne Cortez

Graphic Notes

Jayne Cortez (1)

22nd October 2015

Leroi Jones or Amiri Baraka died in 2014 and was a charismatic poet and political activist. His themes focus on Black liberation and White racism. He consistently fought for black rights, head, heart and body
in the struggle for liberation. He was in the circle of the Beat Generation and was a lover and critic of jazz.

He was a great performer of his poems as can be watched in the program dedicated to him on his death in 2014 by Democracy Now: Poet-Playwright-Activist Who Shaped Revolutionary Politics, Black Culture – – and many other performances available online –

Some of Amiri Baraka’s poems – 

Neworld Review: Amiri Baraka—The Last Beat Standing –

Amiri Baraka –

Graphic notes on «Incident» poem that relates to the same theme of racism as in «Incident«, by Countee Cullen. In the latter it’s about a racist verbal aggression and in Baraka’s poem is about brutal physical aggression.

collage amiri baraka2

In 1959, Baraka wrote an essay «How you Sound??», a statement of his poetic aesthetics, where he defends that poetry is made of everyday life experience and common material taken from the surrounding environment. Poetry is life itself and must liberate from preconceptions and traditional forms and metrics. Poetry is sound and Baraka’s sound is jazz. The “sound” of Baraka’s poetry is essential to texturing or fleshing out its meaning. He uses repetition–at the lexical, syntactic, semantic, and phonological levels. It’s an oral poetry to be listened to, and his performances with jazz music on his side are notorious.

The themes of his poetry are intimately related to his political activism, they focus on black liberation and white racism and repression, He struggled for civil rights all his life, he was linked to the Civil Rights Movement and to the Black Panthers.

As a prominent figure of the Black Arts movement and Black Nationalism during the 1960’s, Baraka expressed his political views while capturing the African American community’s struggle for equality within his poems, dramas, and nonfiction works.

He receives influences from the imagists, the projectivists, the Dadaists and he was associated with the Beats.

Articles: (on essay How You Sound??) (on A Poem for Black Hearts) (on Black Art poem) (on A Poem for Black Hearts)

Graphic Notes

LeRoi Jones How You sound

21st October 2015

Anne Waldman a cultural and political activist with extensive work of poetry, a friend of Ginsberg and once a Beat. A performance and experimental poet, who embraced Buddhism and chants poetry.


O U T R I D E R: A documentary film on poet Anne Waldman & the Outrider Lineage –

collage ann waldman song

collage Ann Waldman Rogue State

Graphic notes

collage Anne Waldman

20th October 2015

Robert Creely is one of the Black Mountain Poets, also known as the projectivist poets, avant-garde or postmodern.

In 1950, Charles Olson published his seminal essay, Projective Verse. In this, he called for a poetry of “open field” composition to replace traditional closed poetic forms with an improvised form that should reflect exactly the content of the poem. This form was to be based on the line, and each line was to be a unit of breath and of utterance. The content was to consist of “one perception immediately and directly (leading) to a further perception”. This essay was to become a kind of de facto manifesto for the Black Mountain poets. One of the effects of narrowing the unit of structure in the poem down to what could fit within an utterance was that the Black Mountain poets developed a distinctive style of poetic diction (e.g. “yr” for “your” –

Robert Creeley (1926-2005) –

«I Know a Man» is a short concise poem with contrated forms and words, drawn from an everyday life situation of two people talking while driving a car, dealing with a postmodern problem of identity crisis and loss of direction in the life of the modern Americans. This poem illustrates the interconnections between the traditional sense of the void and failure of communication. “I Know a Man” is also concerned with an essential human problem: how to cast light on the darkness which surrounds us, how to “run order through chaos”. The poem is in minimalist technique which speaks in minimum and presents maximum ideas. –

Graphic notes

collage robert creely

19th October 2015

Bob Kaufman was a beat poet and surrealist inspired by jazz music. Overshadowed by his intellectual peers, a street, marginalized person, regularly brutalized by the police, for disorderly conduct. He was taken as a madman, a bum, an addict.. He walked the streest and would shout out his poetry in public spaces and transports.

Jail Poems” is a collection of thirty-four numbered lyric strophes (irregular stanzas) that vary in length, written in jail, the narrator describes the various sensory and reflective perceptions of an inmate.

The first section of the poem describes the narrator’s immediate surroundings: what he sees, what he hears, and how he interprets the situations of the other occupants of the jail.

The second section is more oriented toward the senses, concentrating on visual imagery at first, then moving toward the auditory.

The third section takes a philosophical approach, asking “who is not in jail?” and theorizing about the degree to which human beings can “know” things that are outside their own experience.

In the fourth section, the narrator speculates about the perceptions of others and questions his own motivations.

Jail Poems –

Bob Kaufman and the Language of Emancipation, by Jeremy Breningstall (San Francisco State University) –

Graphic Notes based on the article above

collage bob kaufman

18th October 2015

A new week with the Beats – Kerouac, Ginsberg icons.

The audio introduction of this chapter (35 min) –

Jack Kerouac ideas about the restrictiveness of grammatical conventions leading him and other Beats to a social critique of convention based on a concept of language have been very influential on the “new poetries”.

Here are Kerouac’sEssentials of Spontaneous Prose“:

SET-UP The object is set before the mind, either in reality. as in sketching (before a landscape or teacup or old face) or is set in the memory wherein it becomes the sketching from memory of a definite image-object.

PROCEDURE Time being of the essence in the purity of speech, sketching language is undisturbed flow from the mind of personal secret idea-words, blowing (as per jazz musician) on subject of image.

METHOD No periods separating sentence-structures already arbitrarily riddled by false colons and timid usually needless

SCOPING Not “selectivity’ of expression but following free deviation (association) of mind into limitless blow-on-subject seas of thought, swimming in sea of English with no discipline other than rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement, like a fist coming down on a table with each complete utterance, bang! (the space dash)-Blow as deep as you want-write as deeply, fish as far down as you want, satisfy yourself first, then reader cannot fail to receive telepathic shock and meaning-excitement by same laws operating in his own human mind.

LAG IN PROCEDURE No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of scatological buildup words till satisfaction is gained, which will turn out to be a great appending rhythm to a thought and be in accordance with Great Law of timing.

TIMING Nothing is muddy that runs in time and to laws of time-Shakespearian stress of dramatic need to speak now in own unalterable way or forever hold tongue-no revisions (except obvious rational mistakes, such as names or calculated insertions in act of not writing but inserting).

CENTER OF INTEREST Begin not from preconceived idea of what to say about image but from jewel center of interest in subject of image at moment of writing, and write outwards swimming in sea of language to peripheral release and exhaustion-Do not afterthink except for poetic or P. S. reasons. Never afterthink to “improve” or defray impressions, as, the best writing is always the most painful personal wrung-out tossed from cradle warm protective mind-tap from yourself the song of yourself, blow!-now!-your way is your only way-“good”-or “bad”-always honest (“ludi- crous”), spontaneous, “confessionals’ interesting, because not “crafted.” Craft is craft.

STRUCTURE OF WORK Modern bizarre structures (science fiction, etc.) arise from language being dead, “different” themes give illusion of “new” life. Follow roughly outlines in outfanning movement over subject, as river rock, so mindflow over jewel-center need (run your mind over it, once) arriving at pivot, where what was dim-formed “beginning” becomes sharp-necessitating “ending” and language shortens in race to wire of time-race of work, following laws of Deep Form, to conclusion, last words, last trickle–Night is The End.

MENTAL STATE If possible write “without consciousness” in semi-trance (as Yeats’ later “trance writing”) allowing subconscious to admit in own uninhibited interesting necessary and so “modern” language what conscious art would censor, and write excitedly, swiftly, with writing-or-typing-cramps, in accordance (as from center to periphery) with laws of orgasm, Reich’s “beclouding of consciousness.” Come from within, out–to relaxed and said.

Jack Kerouac great reading of the opening paragraphs of “October in the Railroad Earth” –

Kerouac: …the prose in “October in the Railroad Earth,” very experimental, intended to clack along all the way like a steam engine pulling a one-hundred-car freight with a talky caboose at the end, that was my way at the time and it still can be done if the thinking during the swift writing is confessional and pure and all excited with the life of it. And be sure of this, I spent my entire youth writing slowly with revisions and endless rehashing speculation and deleting and got so I was writing one sentence a day and the sentence had no FEELING. Goddamn it, FEELING is what I like in art, not CRAFTINESS and the hiding of feelings.» –

Kerouac wrote this piece in San Francisco during the fall and winter of 1952-53. He moved into a flophouse on Third Street, while continuing to work as a brakeman for the railroad. This piece, along with Visions of Cody and Doctor Sax, was among the earliest examples of Kerouac’s “spontaneous prose.”

October in the Railroad Earth
Jack Kerouac

There was a little alley in San Francisco back of the Southern
Pacific station at Third and Townsend in redbrick of drowsy lazy
afternoons with everybody at work in offices in the air you feel
the impending rush of their commuter frenzy as soon they’ll be
charging en masse from Market and Sansome buildings on foot
and in buses and all well-dressed thru workingman Frisco of
Walkup ?? truck drivers and even the poor grime-bemarked Third
Street of lost bums even Negros so hopeless and long left East
and meanings of responsibility and try that now all they do is
stand there spitting in the broken glass sometimes fifty in one
afternoon against one wall at Third and Howard and here’s all
these Millbrae and San Carlos neat-necktied producers and
commuters of America and Steel civilization rushing by with San
Francisco Chronicles and green Call-Bulletins not even enough
time to be disdainful, they’ve got to catch 130, 132, 134, 136 all
the way up to 146 till the time of evening supper in homes of the
railroad earth when high in the sky the magic stars ride above
the following hotshot freight trains–it’s all in California, it’s all a
sea, I swim out of it in afternoons of sun hot meditation in my
jeans with head on handkerchief on brakeman’s lantern or (if not
working) on book, I look up at blue sky of perfect lostpurity and
feel the warp of wood of old America beneath me and I* have
insane conversations with Negroes in second*-story windows
above and everything is pouring in, the switching moves of
boxcars in that little alley which is so much like the alleys of
Lowell and I hear far off in the sense of coming night that engine
calling our mountains.

Full text in –

Kerouac wrote poetry, trying Haiku for instance. His poetry is not so highlighted as his prose.

Jack Kerouac’s Poetry—Where is the Gold, if There’s Gold? –

Kerouac wrote that he wanted “to be considered as a jazz poet blowing a long blues in an afternoon jazz session on Sunday.” And in his “Statement on Poetics” for The New American Poetry, he asserts:

Add alluvials to the end of your line when all is exhausted but something has to be said for some specified irrational reason, since reason can never win out, because poetry is NOT a science. The rhythm of how you ‘rush’ yr statement determines the rhythm of the poem, whether it is a poem in verse-separated lines, or an endless one-line poem called prose . . . –


Birds singing
in the dark
—Rainy dawn.

17th October 2015

Howl was written by Allen Ginsberg and represents the epic poem of the Beat Generation, addressing themes of insanity, commodification of society, oppressive establishment with its rules and order, freedom and confinement, religion, sex, visions of America.

The poem is an anguish and exhuberant cry for all exploitation, repression and subjugation. Allen Ginsberg’s own description of “Howl”—“A huge sad comedy of wild phrasing”.

It’s a long poem, structured in three sections, with  long lines, influenced by Whitman. Reading these long fast line verses, almost prose lines, leaves the reader breathless. It uses free verse with no regular meter, but the repetition of certain words or phrases establishes some patterns (designated as «parallelism»). There’s also a Whitman’s approach for the listing, «catalog» and «anaphora», beginning the lines with the same words

The Poem is dedicated to Ginsberg’s friend Carl Solomon, since both shared an experience in a psychiatric hospital (1950). The issue of psychiatric treatments was a critical issue in the 50’s, because of dubious confinements and treatments. Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew the Cuckoo’s Nest is the paradigmatic novel that raises awareness for the problem, namely for lobotomy practice.

Along the poem pervades a hellish tone and angry cry. The title is quite powerful – Howl – an animal expression of emotion, expression of human pain and despair. Ginsberg expresses the frustration, artistic energy, and self-destruction of his generation. A generation suppressed by a dominant American culture that valued conformity over artistic creativity.

The poem speaks about madness, hallucinations and visions (based on autobiographical experiences); of drug addicts and alcoholics and their angelical side; of straight and gay sex (the poem was considered obscene at the time and went to court); it speaks of marxist viewpoints (Ginsberg’s political beliefs), as a pacifist he condemns war that serves the interests of rich and powerful; the poem speaks of various religions, following a mystical tradition but rejects dogma and church organizations;critical of ‘machinery’  taken as a threat for war and authoritarian state. Moloch is the symbol of destruction
a pagan god referred in the Bible, to whom children were sacrificed as victims. Moloch stands for the establishment, government, war, capitalism, mainstream culture, the «machine», «machinery». Evil god Moloch, in one’s mind, the destroyer of youth and love:

Moloch! Moloch! Robot apartments! invisible suburbs!
skeleton treasuries! blind capitals! demonic industries!
spectral nations! invincible madhouses! granite cocks!
monstrous bombs!

collage allen ginsberg 2


A line by line analysis in:

More articles with Howl’s analysis:

A good video analysis –

Video notes I have made some time ago – 

Ginsberg’s reading –

Allen Ginsberg’s interview in 1994 (BBC) – a great talk –

My video notes –

16th October 2015

X.J. Kennedy writes his poem «Nude descending a Staircase» paying homage to the famous cubist painting (1912) of Marcel Duchamps

Graphic notes

collage X.J.Kennedy Nude

Richard Wilbur published his poem «The Death of a Toad» in 1948.  In a suburban scenery of a garden, he describes in a sophisticated writing style the prosaic scene of a toad caught in a power mower. The symbolism of the scene is that man and machinery are a threat to Nature and its beauty.

The poet uses a grandiose language and style to deal with a minor subject matter: a toad caught in a mower, which indicates a sort of mockery. At the same time there’s a sad and haunting tone in the way he depicts the death of the toad: ‘banked and staring eyes’ – ‘dies towards some deep monotone’

Poet Richard Wilbur’s Letter About “The Death of a Toad” –

Analysis –

Analysis –

Graphic notes

collage richard wilbur Death of a Toad

Robert Frost is an american poet who lived in England for a short period of time and was influenced by modernists, establishing a close relationship with Ezra Pound.

«The author of searching and often dark meditations on universal themes, he is a quintessentially modern poet in his adherence to language as it is actually spoken, in the psychological complexity of his portraits, and in the degree to which his work is infused with layers of ambiguity and irony.»-

Robert Frost’s poem «Mending Wall» is written during those years (1914) as a story like poem about the need to maintain certain walls to build relationships  It is supposed to be somehow autobiographical of the rural property he kept till 1909 in New Hampshire and the relationship with his neighbour.

«A stone wall separates the speaker’s property from his neighbor’s. In spring, the two meet to walk the wall and jointly make repairs. The speaker sees no reason for the wall to be kept—there are no cows to be contained, just apple and pine trees. He does not believe in walls for the sake of walls. The neighbor resorts to an old adage: “Good fences make good neighbors.” The speaker remains unconvinced and mischievously presses the neighbor to look beyond the old-fashioned folly of such reasoning. His neighbor will not be swayed. The speaker envisions his neighbor as a holdover from a justifiably outmoded era, a living example of a dark-age mentality. But the neighbor simply repeats the adage.»

A certain ambiguity pervades the poem and a certain laconic tone.

Frost uses blank verse and no stanza breaks, no rhyming patterns, but many of the end-words share an assonance (e.g., wall, hill, balls, wall, …), no fancy words, a conversational tone.

An extensive analysis of the poem –

«the central theme of the poem is that boundaries are necessary for good relationships and this is why real companionship only creates gaps, while the boundary remains largely intact.»

More poem’s analyses:

My preference goes to Frost’s poem «The Road Not Taken» and my remix –


15th October 2015

Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks (1986) –

The Historical and Social Context of Gwendolyn Brooks’s Poetry –

Gwendolyn Brooks writes «Truth» in the late 40’s. She uses the ‘sun’ as a metaphor for truth and this truth can be expanded to rights and liberties long expected by the black community.

‘truth’ appears with a small ‘t’, instead of a capital ‘T’ as this grandiose word should be written, but the ‘truth’ has been small for the black community.

And she uses the conditional ‘if’, lets suppose that people grasp the ‘sun’, how will they handle it ‘knocking on their door’. Will they be fearful of something they have not experienced, used to the ‘darkness’? Will they retreat to their usual condition (‘shelter’)? Is it better to remain in the dark, unaware?

‘The dark hangs heavily / Over the eyes’ -The fact is that darkness persists – no truth, no freedom, no rights.

Graphic Notes –

gwendolyn truth poster analysis

Gwendolyn Brooks writes a powerful poem «Boy Breaking Glass» about black oppression and frustration. It was written in the 60’s during the Civil Rights Movement.

A poor boy breaking a window glass is a metaphor for the need to rebel, it is a disruptive act of protest. The boy stands for the ‘black community’.

“Whose broken window is a cry of art” – ‘cry’ for pain and grief – a riot can become an art

The use of present tense indicates a situation that goes on.

“is old-eyed première” – it means that it’s not the first time the boy breaks glass, the riot goes on – ‘old’ indicating a long past – portraying the length of the’ cry’, the pain for lack of liberties and injustice.

“Our beautiful flaw and terrible ornament/ our barbarous and metal little man,” – Without a culture background (barbarous) this boy has created a wild way to make his point and emotions, to make his cry known

“I shall create! If not a note, a hole, / If not an overture a desecration” – the boy’s voice tells  that he shall construct something in the future, if not a piece of music (note) he will leave a ‘hole’ on the wall or on the window, if he can’t produce an overture, grandiose art, he will make a statement of desecration, leaving a mark of shattered glass.

“Nobody knew where I was and now I am no longer there” – a stressful tone in the voice of the boy who doesn’t find a way out, except breaking glass.

 “The only sanity is a cup of tea / The music is in minors” –  the boy wants more out of his life but life gives no more than insignificant pleasures like a cup of tea or minor music, little things left to the underpriviledged.

“Who has not Congress, lobster, love, luau, / the Regency Room, the Statue of Liberty, runs” – the boy is not entitled the same rights and freedoms of citizens. He does not have the luxury or money to afford to eat lobster or go to a luau.

“A mistake. / A cliff. A hymn, a snare, and an exceeding sun” – the last lines reinforce the desperation of obstacles and traps. Eventually a glimpse of hope by the ‘exceeding sun’, some light at the end of the tunnel.

An article on the poem’s analysis –

Graphic Notes –

Gwendolyn Brook's poem Boy Breaking Glass poster analysis

14th October 2015

Langston Hughes uses na ironic tone for his poem addressing the ‘Negro problem’. Some analyses:

collage langston hughes harlem

Graphic notes

collage langston hughes

Claude McKay is another Harlem Renaissance poet

«These writers focused on the struggles of African Americans in the United States, particularly prejudices that they encountered. In his personal poems, McKay often reflects on the racism he experienced in America. He discusses the feelings of pride he has as an African American, but also the alienation that he experiences because of his race. Unlike other writers in the Harlem Renaissance movement, McKay often writes with rage and a call to action.

If We Must Die was written as a response to what is now called the Red Summer of 1919. During this summer, there was a rise in hate crime, race riots, and overall violence towards the black community. The three most violent episodes occurred in Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Elaine, Arkansas. The violence included fighting and rioting that led to many black families losing their homes and multiple deaths.» –

Analysis of the poem –

Graphic notes

collage claude mckay If we must die

Countee Cullen is one of the Harlem Renaissance Poets.

«In the decades immediately following World War I, huge numbers of African Americans migrated to the industrial North from the economically depressed and agrarian South. In cities such as Chicago; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, the recently migrated sought and found (to some degree) new opportunities, both economic and artistic. African Americans were encouraged to celebrate their heritage and to become “The New Negro,” a term coined in 1925 by sociologist and critic Alain LeRoy Locke in his influential book of the same name.» (

Incident – A simple poem that targets us as a punch in the stomach. A traumatic remembrance of racist verbal aggression. The poet as a child of eight facing the crude condition of a ‘negro’. The choice of a poetic form that enhances the message: the usual happy nursery rhyme contrasting with the racist reality. A singing rhyme with regular metric.

Graphic Notes on «Incident»

collage incident cullen

Graphic Notes on «Yet Do I Marvel»

collage cullen yet do I marvel

13th October 2015

I can understand and share the feelings the poet Genevieve Taggard conveys in this poem, a kind of sarcasm, anger and disenchantment, during the Great Depression, repeated  in these days of financial crisis.

At this present moment  my country is under IMF and European Institutions intervention. The rise of poverty and immigration has been appaling in these last 4 years.

I don’t think USA escapes the unequality that goes around the world – 1% of obscenely wealthy and so it goes… (to remind Vonnegut)

My graphic notes –

collage Interior Taggard

Only a brave and engaged woman (Ruth Lechitner) would write a poem on such a prohibited theme at the time – abortion. Almost 80 years past and still is a controversial issue and criminalised in many countries.

Women’s liberation remain in this matter (and many other matters, like salary equality or institutional representation ) unaccomplished.

I’m very much pro-engagement art – literature, painture, cinema -, perhaps because I was born during a dictatiorship and only experienced social and political freedoms in my twenties.

I appreciate this poem for its contents, but not so much for its form. I don’t like the classical tone, the traditional stanza and rhyme. There’s some discrepancy between the content and form.

My graphic notes
collage ruth lechitner

12th October 2015

Tristan Tzara‘s  recipe to make a Dadaist poem (1920) –

Tristan-Tzara-collage poem 1920

Capítulo de livro sobre Dadaism –

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, the Dada queen of NY, walking Dada sculpture, a scary threatning and insane character, challenging all morality.

The Anti-Canon: Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven and ‘The principle of non-acquiescence’ by Kyra Hanson

It took 100 years to publish her poems. This is an exhibition in Toronto about her art – 

Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, “A Dozen Cocktails–Please”
Note: This poem was first published in The Little Review, edited by Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap. It caused a good deal of controversy. Letters, both strongly pro- and anti-Baroness, poured in. The gist of the anti-Baroness response: Why encourage someone who is so obviously insane? Why take seriously as art the versified ravings of such an unstable, narcissistically self-performing person who hardly knows the language in which she writes? Does this rise to the level even of anti-art?

No spinsterlollypop for me– yes– we have
No bananasI got lusting palate– I
Always eat them– — — — — — —
They have dandy celluloid tubes– all sizes–
Tinted diabolically as a baboon’s hind-complexion.
A man’s a–
Will-o’-th’-wisp! What’s the dread
Matter with the up-to-date-American-
Home-comforts? Bum insufficient for the
Should-be wellgroomed upsy!
That’s the leading question.
There’s the vibrator– — —
Coy flappertoy! I am adult citizen with
Vote– I demand my unstinted share
In roofeden– witchsabbath of our baby-
Lonian obelisk.
What’s radio for–if you please?
“Eve’s dart pricks snookums upon
Wirefence. ”
An apple a day– — —
It’ll come– — — —
Ha! When? I’m no tongueswallowing yogi.
Progress is ravishlng–
It doesn’t me–
Nudge it —
Kick it–
Prod it–
Push it–
Broadcast– — — —
That’s the lightning idea!
S.O.S. national shortage of–
What ?
How are we going to put it befitting
Lifted upsys?
Psh! Any sissy poet has sufficient freezing
Chemicals in his Freudian icechest to snuff all
Cockiness. We’ll hire one.
Hell! Not that! That’s the trouble– —
Cock crow silly!
Oh fine!
They’re in France– the air on the line–
The Poles– — — — — —
Have them send waves– like candy–
Valentines– — — —
“Say it with– — —
Bolts !
Oh thunder!
Serpentine aircurrents– — —
Hhhhhphssssssss! The very word penetrates
I feel whoozy!
I like that. I don’t hanker after Billyboys– but I am entitled
To be deeply shocked.
So are we– but you fill the hiatus.
Dear– I ain’t queer– I need it straight — —
A dozen cocktails– please– — — —

A corrosive social critique in this poem. Her ready-made sculptures, poetry and outfits are all derived from the detritus of contemporary American consumer culture. Even after a century the Baroness’ poetry still has the power to shock, challenge and make us rethink gender stereotypes and societal expectations and norms.

Dada craziness, performance taken to extremes, self destructiveness, sexual openness, imbalance, liberated, drunkenness (during prohibition times)

Critical article –

A chapter from Williams’s Autobiography partly about the eccentric ‘insane’ Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven –

poem Baroness

collage baroness Elsa

11th October 2015

A long repetitive poem dedicated to Picasso «If I told him: A completed portrait of Picasso» –

Gertrude Stein reading her poem –

Modernists: Stein –

«This poem interrogates the definition of “resemblance.” In Stein’s portraits there is no one ordered resemblance, but a diverse jumble of reality, which captures the disordered, many sided, forever in motion presence. Despite the title, she subverts the idea that anything can ever really be complete, or at least complete according to traditional notions of finishedness. According to Stein, to forge a full image of a person or a object, one must look at it from a multiplicity of angles. This idea is carried over into the words used to describe the many facets of the thing. Not only does Stein examine the full nature of the thing, but also the full varied spectrum of meanings and usages of the words themselves. Stein’s style is intrinsically subversive in that it rejects traditional poetic forms and standard laws of grammar so completely, more completely than any other Modernist poet of the era.»

Graphic notes

collage Stein If I told him

10th October 2015

«A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson. Idem the Same» is a poem dedicated to a Stein‘s friend, who wrote the foreword of her publication of Geography and Plays (1922), with a subtext to her valentine companion, Toklas.

collage GValentine.Stein

Some citations:

“bringing back life to our language by what appears, at first, to be an anarchic process. First she
breaks down the predestined groups of words, their sleepy family habits; then she rebrightens them,
examines their texture, and builds them into new and vital shapes.” (Edith Sitwell)

“It was all so nearly alike it must be different and it is different, it is natural that if everything
is used and there is a continuous present and a beginning again and again if it is all so alike
it must be simply different and everything simply difference was the natural way of creating it then.” (Stein)

“As always when at her best, she uses double talk to arrive at plain meanings:
she adds nothing and nothing and gets something; her sum is an emotional impact;
an excitment,an undeniable deep stirring. This is the marvel and the mystery of her language” (W. G. Rogers)

Graphic notes on Stein’s «Malachite»

collage Stein malachite

Graphic notes on Stein’s «Water Raining»

collage G.Stein Watter raining

G.Stein poems’ analysis:

A set of links on G.Stein –

Tender Buttons (book) – 

Remaking sense, by Merrill Cole (critical article)-

Visual Poetics and a Play on Shortness , by Holly Pester (critical paper) –

9th October 2015

The first poem of Tender Buttons (Gertrude Stein) is «A Carafe, That is a Blind Glass»

My graphic notes based on the article –

collage G.Stein A carafe

An opera based on Gertrude Stein texts –

A mini biography of Gertrude Stein, a character of her time –

Gertrude Stein reading “If I told him – a completed portrait of Picasso” –

Gertrude Stein SAINTS! Trailer –

Tails – Gertrude Stein Poem – Kinetic Typography –

Animation Once Upon a Time –

Animation A Centre in a Table –

8th October 2015

Moving to Gertrude Stein, an american of jewish origin, patron of arts, who spent most of her life in Paris, surrounded by avant-garde modernist artists, namely Picasso, who painted her portrait.

Mini-Bio –

« In Gertrude Stein’s writing every word lives and, apart from concept, it is so exquisitely rhythmical and cadenced that if we read it aloud and receive it as pure sound, it is like a kind of sensuous music. Just as one may stop, for once, in a way, before a canvas of Picasso, and, letting one’s reason sleep for an instant, may exclaim: “It isa fine pattern!” so, listening to Gertrude Stein’s words and forgetting to try to understand what they mean, one submits to their gradual charm.» (Mellow, 1974)

She was completely out of the mainstream, a strong character. Her weekly Salon was famous for gathering import authors and artists, like T.S.Eliot, James Joyce, Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald. She supported young artists and her collection of modern paintings and sculptures was an important one (Picasso, Matisse, Cézanne, Bonnard, etc)

Gertrude Stein reads «If I Had Told Him a Completed Portrait of Picasso» – – a kind of «Dada» poem, musicality, repetition…

Analysis of a Long Dress from her book «Tender Buttons» (1914) – (full book)- . Stein’s experimental use of language renders the prose poems unorthodox and their subjects unfamiliar. (

Crtical Paper –

collage gertrude Stein A Long Dress

7th October 2015

An assignment on William Carlos Williams poem:

Young woman at a window poems

Comparing both versions, I’d consider the first one more in conformity with the imagist manifesto, for its economy of words, two/three words per line, concision, precise and clear images, capturing a moment as a camera snapshot, and emotive objectivity. We can picture an everyday life situation with a common mother and child.

«The Imagists wrote succinct verse of dry clarity and hard outline in which an exact visual image made a total poetic statement.»(Dhanya G.)

The second version of the poem presents lines with adverbs – while, there, who. The meaning seems different from the first version, the reader may interpret that the mother is crying because of the child who «robs her». In the first version the interpretation is more open, the reader may wonder why the mother is crying. The second version is a little bit more descriptive.

Young woman at a window poems analysis

4th October 2015

Portrait of a Lady, by WCWilliams is an ironic approach to traditional love poems, after paintings of Watteau and Fragonard. The description of body parts of the lady below the waist gives a flavour of eroticism.

My graphic notes

collage WCW Portrait of a Lady

3rd October 2015

A poem by WCW with limitless interpretations «The rose is obsolete…»

Contrasting ways of seeing the rose, traditional symbol of love or an alter-rose sharper, neater, more cutting, the dark side of love with the pain and harshness.

WCW the rose is obsolete

2nd October 2015

The famous imagist poem by WCW «The Red Wheelbarrow». A rural scene with a wheelbarrow and chicken, a vivid image where colour contrasts – red wheelbarrow, white chicken, glaze with rain.

Short lines with a strong image. A first line that makes the reader wonders «So much depends…»

collage WCW red wheelbarrow

Another imagist poem by WCW «This Is Just To Say», a simple note of apology of an everyday life event. The title of the poem could be the first line, explaining the note left after the action. A brief poem with very short lines and words capturing a scene of eating plums that were reserved for breakfast. A childlike justification for the temptation of good sensations – delicious and sweet.

collage WCW This is just to say

30th September

Another imagist poem by WCW. A daily routine between the walls of the hospital where WCW worked is the setting for a waste land where nothing grows, where death awaits very often, but where some pieces of broken glass may shine among cinders for life as well.

collage WCW between walls

collage WCW Lines

29th September

Wallace Stevens is another modernist poet and «Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird» was the poem elected for analysis.

The poem is composed of short lines organized n 13 sections, each one might work as a Haiku poem, with scenes captured by a camera snapshot.

It’s an exercise of perspectives over the same object – the blackbrd – seen from different angles, as a cubist painting.

The first section starts from a wide scene of mountains among which the eye of the blackbird contrasts with movement.

The following sections  are zooms on the blackbird in different scenes and contexts.

Some lyric lines that sound well:

The beauty of inflections   
Or the beauty of innuendoes
The mood   
Traced in the shadow   
An indecipherable cause
I know noble accents   
And lucid, inescapable rhythms
And a metaphor: each being is a small part of the world in the pantomime of life
The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds.   
It was a small part of the pantomime
My graphic notes:
collage wallace stevens blackbird

28th September

Ezra Pound was born in late 19th century and was the founder of Imagism, he was a charismatic person and respected intellectual, who influenced many important writers, such as T.S.Eliot, Hemingway, James Joyce, etc.

However his political choices, publicly supporting Mussolini’s fascism, and establishing liaisons with  german and britsh fascist,  led him to prison for treason. The incarceration provoked a break down and he was institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital for 12 years. After release he returned to Italy where he lived till he died. (Wikipedia)

«In a Station of the metro» is the quintessential poem of imagism,it is the precision of image, capture of a moment, instantaneous photo.

A video analysis of the poem –

My graphic notes:

collage ezra pound

collage ezra poun encounter

27th September 2015

A new week approaches focusing on the imagism movement, Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle and followers, in the early 20th century.

The Imagists rejected the sentiment and discursiveness typical of much Romantic and Victorian poetry. They practised directness of presentation and economy of language, as well as a willingness to experiment with non-traditional verse forms, using free verse. A characteristic feature of Imagism is its attempt to isolate a single image to reveal its essence, as Pound states «luminous details».

Imagism influence modern english poetry, like the objectivist and language poets. They influenced the beat generation in what respects the use of free verse and common speech, but not so much on the economy of words or the concision and concentration.The imagists were much inflenced by the haiku japanese poems.

A link for brief information on imagism and its manifesto:

1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.

2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.

3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.

4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.

5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.

6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

Hilda Doolittle «Sea rose» interpretation:

The theme is sea rose versus romantic rose. The traditional romantic symbol of beauty and love is rejected for a sea rose, more harsh and with imperfections. The sea rose endures the wind and the «flung» to the sand, survives with its meager petals and small leaves intact (feminine resistance). The free verse lines are short, direct and sharp to highlight the images.

My graphic notes:

collage sea rose HD

From the same Book Sea Garden, another poem «Sea Poppies» about the power of endurance. Poems analyses:

My graphic notes

collage Sea poppies H.D.

26th September 2015

Rae Armantrout is a contemporary American poet generally associated with the Language poets.(Wikipedia)

Conversation with the poet – 

She explains the poem «The Way» in this interview –

She writes her poems from notes she takes in her daily experiences, fragments of feelings. My graphic notes:

collage rae The way

Cid Corman has been associated with the Beats, Black Mountain poets and Objectivists, mainly through his roles as an editor, publisher and critic.(Wikipedia)

His poem «It isnt for want» is iconic, since it’s concise, deep, timeless and open to readers interpretation. It relates to presence, implying departure.

My graphic notes

collage cid corman it isnt for want

25th September 2015

Lorine Niedecker, unknown for most of her life, wrote much about nature.

n 1931, Niedecker encountered the Objectivist movement in poetry, through the works of poet Louis Zukofsky she discovered in an issue ofPoetry magazine. This was the start of Niedecker’s important and enduring relationship with Objectivism, and of her lengthy and complex personal relationship with Zukofsky.

The basic tenets of Objectivist poetics as defined by Louis Zukofsky were to treat the poem as an object, and to emphasise sincerity, intelligence, and the poet’s ability to look clearly at the world.

“(use of) the exact word…in the right order, with the right cadence, with a definite aim in view;… song, one of the mainsprings of poetry …” and “(the inclusion of) an emotional object, close to the people and their experiences…”(Zukofsky)

Here is a good analysis of several poems –

«Early commentators assumed that the poems Niedecker now began to publish – intricately sounded, rigorously condensed, elliptical, and often cruelly candid and sardonic lyrics – were written under the sign of Objectivism.» – 

«“As an Objectivist,  (Niedecker) strove for precision and concision—for an expression of the thing itself.  Objectivism, marked by clarity of image and word-tone, thinking with things as they exist, and directing them along a line of melody, economy of presentation, the poetic rendering of current speech.”»

«For to follow the development of Niedecker’s poetics is to find its tracks and traces in silences, in smallnesses, in pauses and paucities.» … «The same could be said for her deftly wielded lines decrying other social injustices, her criticism of consumerism and other embedded aspects of mid-twentieth-century American life and culture. Some couldn’t see or hear her for her subtleties; some who could preferred not to look or listen too» closely.» (

«Objectivism appealed to Niedecker for its austerity, its lack of ornamentation, for its compression, its “extraordinary precision in (its) use of sound,» …«“Objectivism gave priority to the non-referential, material qualities of the word; it also valued a ‘non-expressive’ poetry, rejecting sentimentality—which is a manner of excess.”(Peter Middleton)

The drive for concision, tightness and control was always in evidence, her lens focused on that “low” subject matter—the everyday, the quotidian. Condensed language and form, modest scope and lack of the grandiose in style or subject, the frequent silences, the brevity, even the lack of titles—the quiet and small scale of her work have almost certainly played a role in the enduring quiet and smallness of her reputation.

My life by Water – 

Graphic notes on 3 poems:




23rd September 2015

I’ve posted some comments on William S. Burroughs, related to the Beat Generation, and found a full book to download «The Third Mind». I took a a poem from this book and put it in this poster. It’s a good example of his cut-up technique:


I recall a great piece «Last Words» –

William S. Burroughs painting experiences –

Some time ago I have made an animation about Burrough’s Naked Lunch –

The first assignment is about a Dickinson‘s poem analysis «I tasted a liquor never brewed -», which (as usual) is polysemic. This is my interpretation: «In a summer setting, nature invites to outdoors to commemorate and drinking. The metaphor of drunkenness/intoxication stands for nature glory and inebriation, thrilling feelings for nature’s beauty. Such radiant days and blue sky lead to exceptional celebration and debauchery.There’s a crescendo along the stanzas of inebriation and exhilaration until angels and saints in Heaven rush to see the poet’s ecstasy. Suggestive images related to nature follow such as the bees and butterflies that get satisfied with the nectar comparing to the poet’s avid drinking of life, the angels in saints who rush to watch the poet’s ecstasy, the leaning against the Sun, source of life.»

My Graphic notes on the poem


22nd September 2015

A Supermarket in California, by Allen Ginsberg, a critique of mainstream American culture, about the commodification of life in contrast with a lost natural world. The narrator (first person) focuses more on consumerist aspects of society by contrasting his generation with Whitman’s. Walt Whitman as his great inspiration and model in his writing style and life style. His sharing of free verse and long lines, aiming at the harmonization of a materialistic urban life and a lost natural world.

“A Supermarket in California,” with its depictions of domesticated life symbolized by food placed out of its natural context.. Additionally, “A Supermarket” also alludes to a hidden sexualized world, veiled in the language of commonplace things.» ( )

A Supermarket in California, Allen Ginsberg

«Ginsberg is speaking in the first person not only to share his immediate sensuous experiences but also to invoke, by using this perspective, the American poet in whose footsteps he is attempting to walk: Walt Whitman.» (

My graphic notes and poem analysis

Allen Ginsberg a supermarket in California

Allen Ginsberg a supermarket in California 2

A poem by WCW shared by a peer, in a poster I made

The Artist, by WCWilliams

21st September 2015

My poster with an excerpt of Paterson

PATERSON, by WCWilliams (3)

A peer shared a nice poem by WCW «The Lonely Street» which I put in a poster

The Lonely Street_WCWilliams_poster

20th September 2015

A few more graphic notes on WCWilliams

Two short poems by WCW were elected in this course to be analysed: Smell and Dance Russe.WCW - SmellSmell by WCWilliams (2)

Danse russe is about the man himself, in his intimacy, alone, facing the mirror, naked, disquiet, allowing himself moments of childish and foolishness – the poet’s singularity and rebellion -, and the domestic man, in his family, in a comfortable and quiet setting of sleeping and rest, while the sun starts rising. The few moments he has to centre on himself, on his fantasies, even grotesque ones, and then return to his other persona in the conventional role of head of the family, a happy role to the eyes of society, dignified and respected.

Graphic notes_WCW_Danse russe

Smell speaks of strong senses and experiential life. The graphic notes for this poem


19th September 2015

My initiation to William Carlos Williams started by reading the article in Wikipedia and the biographic notes in Poetry Foundation.

«Unlike the more flamboyant, Europeanized literary experimenters of the age, he remained tethered to small-town American life. Rebelling against the nihilism and academic elitism of modern art, the substance of his work returned poetry to the common citizen.»

Then I made my first graphic notes, with his initial influences of imagism of Ezra Pound, one of his first poetic works Kora in Hell, which was much criticized by the imagists, His relationship with the NY artists and his main work Paterson, where poem and prose almost mingle.

Graphic notes W.C.Williams

Graphic notes on William Carlos Williams

I decided to have a look at his first poetry work which was very criticized by his imagist friends, at the time: Kora in Hell: Improvisations – and listened to some audio improvisations –

Kora Hell – Improvisations II –

His use of enjambment to surprise and transform is examined in order to highlight Williams’s interest in depicting creative and cognitive processes. The Imagist qualities of much of Williams’s poetry is considered alongside his engagement with modernist art–particularly the preoccupation of Duchamps and Cubist painters with the process of representing sensual perception. His free verse, which includes the innovative use of white space and carefully, visually balanced lines, establishes his position as one of the most visually-oriented poets in all of modernism.» (

“Spring and All” (1923), one of Williams’ most anthologized poems, abandons normal sentence structure to string together surreal impressions of an emerging season. The setting, on an unremarkable drive to “the contagious hospital,” suggests the contagion of emergence, which will soon spark “upstanding” twigs, leaves, and shoots of myriad types to spring back to life. Similarly contagious is his anticipation of an end to the sterile lifelessness of late winter and his joy in nature’s constant state of flux. The ambiguity of “they” in line 16 expands the thrust of inanimate life to include humanity as well. By allying the uncertainty of birth in “the cold, familiar wind,” he implies that newborns also quicken, “grip down and begin to awaken.” ( )

Paterson – William’s Epic – (full text)

My graphic notes on Paterson

Graphic notes W.C.Williams 2

Graphic Notes on Paterson, the epic poem by W C Williams

«The frontier between prose and verse, always hard to trace, becomes very tenuous in this poet: his free verse borders on prose, not written prose but spoken prose, with everyday language; and his prose is always rhythmic, like a coast bathed in poetic waves—not verse but the verbal surge and resurge that is the creator of verse »

18th September

About Fernando Pessoa, a peer shared a marble mural in Washington Subway – – with poems by Fernando Pessoa and Walt Whitman. I collected Pessoa’s presence in our metro in this collage:

collage Fernando Pessoa

I had made another collage on Pessoa for CLMOOC –

English Poems by Fernando Pessoas

Video of Pessoa’s House-Museum

17th September

Definitely a Whitman’s lover.
I have enjoyed reading and analysing Dickinson’s poems and probably should read more and go deeper to be fair to Emily Dickinson’s work, but poetry is feeling and there are writers and poets that touch us more viscerally than others.
As Eric mentioned in another thread of discussion, Whitman is liberation, he is joy and freedom, he is bold and audacious, he is passionate and exuberant, he floods our senses, he is Self and Universe. The interconnectedness of all things – People and Nature – reveals an open vision of life itself.

Both Dickinson and Whitman left an important legacy and influenced other notable poets and, in some cases, both co-exist in those influences, so my graphic notes shouldn’t be taken as «pro» or «con», just a  highlight of each poets’ particular aspects.

Dickinson vs Whitman

Graphic notes on Song of Myself

Graphic_notes_Walt_Whitman Graphic_notes_Walt_Whitman_2

One of the greatest portuguese poets, Fernando Pessoa, has written a long poem to Walt Whitman – Salutation to Walt Whitman – which Billy Collins refers in this conference, commemorating 150 years of Leaves of Grass first publication –

A Thinglink with a few links to his heteronyms and poems –

Biographical Background of Walt Whitman –

Whitman’s Free Verse: Untraditional, but Not Unskilled –

The form and content from excerpts of Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself – 

Webcast on ED and WW – –
Tweets along the webcast –

16 September 2015

Walt Whitman‘s Song of Myself – the grand american epic poem.

The birthplace of poetry relies in the «Self». Whitman’s Self becomes the Universe.

Three key moments in the poem:

1- A child asks the narrator “What is the grass?” The bunches of grass in the child’s hands become a symbol of the regeneration in nature. But they also signify the links of disparate people all over the United States together: grass, the ultimate symbol of democracy, grows everywhere. In the wake of the Civil War the grass reminds Whitman of graves: grass feeds on the bodies of the dead.

2-  A woman watches twenty-eight young men bathing in the ocean. She fantasizes about joining them unseen, and describes their semi-nude bodies in some detail. The lavish eroticism of this section reinforces this idea: sexual contact allows two people to become one yet not one—it offers a moment of transcendence.

3 – “Speech is the twin of my vision, it is unequal to measure itself, / It provokes me forever, it says sarcastically, / Walt you contain enough, why don’t you let it out then?” Having already established that he can have a sympathetic experience when he encounters others (“I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person”), he must find a way to re-transmit that experience without falsifying or diminishing it. Having catalogued a continent and encompassed its multitudes, he finally decides: “I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable, / I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.” “Song of Myself” thus ends with a sound—a yawp—that could be described as either pre- or post-linguistic. Lacking any of the normal communicative properties of language, Whitman’s yawp is the release of the “kosmos” within him, a sound at the borderline between saying everything and saying nothing. More than anything, the yawp is an invitation to the next Walt Whitman, to read into the yawp, to have a sympathetic experience, to absorb it as part of a new multitude.

Wikipedia –

Notes – – – –

Transcendentalism in Whitman –

Walt Whitman’s Use of Indian Sources: A Reconsideration –

Poet as Prophet: The Religious Whitman and His Disciples –

On Illustrating Walt Whitman’s “Song Of Myself” –

Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself” – A Mosaic of Interpretations by Edwin Haviland Miller (University of Iowa Press Iowa City) –

“Leaves of Grass, Still Growing After 150 Years” by Professor Billy Collins –

Saudação a Walt Whitman, Fernando Pessoa (tradução)

15th September 2015

Emily Dickinson Revisited: A Study of Periodicity in Her Work (American Journal of Psychiatry)

Emily Dickinson’s The Brain within its Groove

enotes –


Emily Dickinson’s Tell all the truth but tell it slant —


14th September 2015

The first week readings

Emily Dickinson’s “I dwell in Possibility”:

My graphic notes about the poem


The Emily Dickinson Collection

A repository for the study of resources related to Emily Dickinson

The letters of Emily Dickinson

Voices And Visions – Emily Dickinson (1988) – 

12th September 2015

Contemporary & Modern north american poetry is a MOOC promoted by the University of Pennsilvania, through Coursera, starting in 12th September 2015.

«In this fast-paced course we will read and encounter and discuss a great range of modern and contemporary U.S. poets working in the “experimental mode,” starting with the 19th-century proto-modernists Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman and ending with 21st-century conceptual poetics. Aside from providing a perhaps handy or helpful survey and chronology of 20th- and 21st-century poetry, this course offers a way of understanding general cultural transitions from modernism to postmodernism.»

During the 10 weeks course many poets will be addressed, poets influenced by 19th century Emily Dickinson such as Lorine Niedecker, Cid Corman, and Rae Armantrout and influenced by Walt Whitman such as William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg.


Weeks 3&4 – THE RISE OF POETIC MODERNISM  (Hilda Doolittle, Ezra Pound, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, Baroness Elsa von Freytag Loringhoven, Tristan Tzara, John Peale Bishop)

Week 5 – COMMUNIST POETS OF THE 1930s (Genevieve Taggard, Ruth Lechlitner ) – THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE (Claude McKay, Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks) – ROBERT FROST

Week 6 – FORMALISM OF THE 1950s (Richard Wilbur, X. J. Kennedy) – BREAKING CONFORMITY -The BEATS (Allen Ginsberg, Kerouac, Bob Kaufman, Robert Creeley, Anne Waldman, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez)

Week 7 – THE NEW YORK SCHOOL (Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, John Ashbury, Barbara Guest, Ted Berrigan, Bernadette Mayer)

Week 8 –  an introduction to Language poetry (Susan Howe, Ron Silliman, Lyn Hejinian, Harryette Mullen)

Week 9 – CHANCE ( Jena Osman, John Cage, Joan Retallack, Jackson Mac Low)

Week 10 – CONCEPTUALISM & UNORIGINALITY (Christian Bok, Tracie Morris, Erica Baum’s “Card Catalogues,” Kenneth Goldsmith)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s