Archive for the ‘Objectivism’ Tag

Reznikoff’s Testimony redux

An index of the state of certain suburbs of American poetic culture is Charles Simic’s reading Charles Reznikoff’s monumental work Testimony “for the first time” (!) on the occasion of Black Sparrow’s reissuing it in one volume. However belated, his praise is testimony itself to his acuity and the work’s enduring power.

Black Sparrow is to be lauded for making Reznikoff’s Objectivist epic poem-including-history available again. Order it direct from the publisher by clicking on the cover:

1567925316

Robert Sheppard: Objectivism and John Seed: Reznikoff, Shelley and the Peterloo Massacre

peterloo 1A very interesting (and hefty!) post on Objectivist poetic practice in England, here John Seed’s poem on The Peterloo Massacre composed from tesserae of existing documents. Read it here.

 

A source study of Charles Reznikoff’s “Amelia”

A source study of Charles Reznikoff’s “Amelia”

The late, great Objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff has long been a favorite and model of mine. Jacket 2 does us all the favor of publishing a study of Reznikoff’s poem “Amelia” from his multi-volume work Testimony, criminally out of print. Charles Bernstein summarizes the virtues and import of this excellent piece of literary scholarship:  

Richard Hyland, Distinguished Professor, Rutgers Law School, Camden, New Jersey, has compiled the fullest account of the sources of a Reznikoff poem, together with a detailed commentary on theAmelia Kirwan case and the poem Reznikoff wrote based on this case. Many of Reznikoff’s poems, especially those in Testimony, are based on legal records. But there has been little research on the exact relationship between the legal record and the poem, with the general assumption that Reznikoff used only language from the legal records, cutting away but not adding any of his own words. The key to Reznikoff’s aesthetic is his selection and condensation of the source materials.

Surely Reznikoff is a paradigmatic poet for all documentary and source-based poetry of the 20th century and exemplary for many of us who use appropriated or found material in our work. By looking at the 1910 court records, we can now see the source of the language that Reznikoff incorporated into his poem, at least in this one instance. Hyland goes much further. By contrasting the aesthetic pitch of Reznikoff’s slim poem with the social efficacy of Judge Edward Bartlett’s magisterial decision, Hyland gets to the core issue of the office of poetry. Reznikoff’s poem, he notes, perhaps wryly, is “weak.”

Michael Heller, an Introduction to his Poetry

immanent occasions blogspot has beaten me to putting up some remarks on Michael Heller‘s poetry, now collected in his This Constellation is a Name. You can read the post, hereDsci0012-330.

Happy Birthday, Charles Reznikoff

Happy Birthday, Charles Reznikoff

The Allen Ginsberg Project has thoughtfully posted a recording of a reading in honour of American Objectivist poet Charles Reznikoff, the promise and possibilities of whose work are, happily, increasingly appreciated, from yesterday’s late Beats to today’s Conceptualists and more direct descendants, such as Michael Heller (whose volume of collected poems This Constellation is a Name was published just last year). The Objectivists’ fame has reached even to Russia:  Kirill Medvedev (a very compelling figure in his own right) reflects on their legacy in his poem “The End of the Ceasefire (The End of the Objectivist School?)”. Perhaps with the excesses of Capital and America’s warmongering Reznikoff’s executors will feel the time is ripe to reissue Reznikoff’s cold-eyed, unrelenting castigation of exploitation and racism, Testimony.

(My difference of opinion with certain latter-day receptions of Reznikoff’s work can be found here).