Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Assignment: Homolinguistic Translation--Chain Poem, due Wednesday 17 November

Students, Below is Wallace Stevens' poem, "The High Toned Old Christian Woman." * It will be the source-poem for the exercise I explained in class today, number 1 on this list of poetry experiments from Electronic Poetry Center, SUNY Buffalo--a list developed by language poets, Charles Bernstein and Bernadette Mayer. Note that the example poem there is from an experiment organized by David Nemeth earlier this year (in which I was fortunate to participate). So, do study how that chain poem works and how it evolved. This is also what I would like us to do, but our source poem is the Stevens poem that follows here. I think we'll have lots of fun with this!

The High Toned Old Christian Woman

Poetry is the supreme fiction, madame.
Take the moral law and make a nave of it
And from the nave build haunted heaven. Thus,
The conscience is converted into palms,
Like windy citherns hankering for hymns.
We agree in principle. That's clear. But take
The opposing law and make a peristyle,
And from the peristyle project a masque
Beyond the planets. Thus, our bawdiness,
Unpurged by epitaph, indulged at last,
Is equally converted into palms,
Squiggling like saxophones. And palm for palm,
Madame, we are where we began. Allow,
Therefore, that in the planetary scene
Your disaffected flagellants, well-stuffed,
Smacking their muzzy bellies in parade,
Proud of such novelties of the sublime,
Such tink and tank and tunk-a-tunk-tunk,
May, merely may, madame, whip from themselves
A jovial hullabaloo among the spheres.
This will make widows wince. But fictive things
Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.

* From From Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens by Wallace Stevens. Copyright © 1954 by Wallace Stevens.

Assignment: Electronic Poetry Review !--due Monday, Nov. 15

Students, for Monday, November 15, please read the current issue of Electronic Poetry Review--as well as browsing the archives. John Latta, whose blog is Hotel Point, has some fine work in that issue--have a close read over at John's blog, then, too. We'll discuss and write a response in class.