Wednesday, November 06, 2013


In case you're wondering, the tentative (well, not really, but am still doing a wee bit of tinkering) table of contents for the book:

Intricate Thicket: Some Late Modernist Poetries


Longer Views

Coming Down from Black Mountain (Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley)
Z-Sited Path: Late Zukofsky and his tradition
The Palace of Wisdom and the Six-Minute Poem (Theodore Enslin)
Truth, Beauty, and the Remote Control (Anne Carson)
Still Diving the Mauberley Trench (John Matthias)
Dark Matters (Peter Gizzi and Rae Armantrout)
Ronald Johnson: Four Takes
1. Turkish Delight and Marrow-Bones
2. Notes and Numbers
3. Johnson’s American England
4. A Note on Johnson’s Anagram
The Piety of Terror (Ian Hamilton Finlay)
One Last Modernist: Guy Davenport

Shorter Takes

Mules and Drugs and R&B (Harryette Mullen)
Norman Finkelstein, Track
A New Negative Capability (Michael Heller)
“The Lighthouses” (George Oppen)
Sound and Vision (John Taggart)


Queen Victoria’s Birthday Present (on writing biography)
A Fragmentary Poetics (on writing poems)

Tuesday, November 05, 2013


It's been altogether too long.

The big news – I just sent off a signed contract for a 100,000 word manuscript, Intricate Thicket: Some Late Modernist Poetries, to be published by the University of Alabama Press in their super-cool "Modern and Contemporary Poetics" series, edited by Hank Lazer and Charles Bernstein. It's a sweet moment for me; Alabama published my first real book, Louis Zukofsky and the Poetry of Knowledge back in 1998, as one of the inaugural volumes of that same series.

At the time I thought, "okay, a new series for newbie scholars, let's hope it lasts a few years." But in the 15 years since, M&CP has become a real powerhouse – they've done books by Marjorie Perloff, Jerome McGann, Harryette Mullen, Rosmarie Waldrop, Nathaniel Mackey, Ron Silliman, Steve McCaffery, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, and stacks and stacks of the best critics of my own and other generations.

The manuscript is pretty much done – it's clean & well-lighted. Both of the press readers had suggestions for possible (minor) revisions, but they were just that – suggestions to consider, rather than conditions for publication. So I'm in that wonderful penultimate phase of doing last-minute clean-ups: a final read-thru, and the infinitely painful process of inserting real-live scholarly-muster-passing citations into very long, rangy essays that quoted from all over the map with nary a thought of pointing readers back to the page numbers of those quotations. (Yes, the heart of the book is a series of big essays I wrote for Parnassus: Poetry in Review, whose editors don't really have much truck with stuffy academic convention.)

I've just spent an hour and a half with one essay, zipping in what seems like two score parenthetical citations, and hauling down about a linear foot and a half of books from my bookcases. By the time I get thru this entire manuscript, I expect my study will be about three feet deep in unshelved books.

Where the hell is Jeeves when you need him?