Wouldn’t it take an outsider to aptly critique the American scene, the American people, the American culture? Hugh Kenner, a Canadian, did this at the end of a section devoted to Wallace Stevens and William Carlos Williams in his book A Homemade World: The American Modernist Writers. A book dedicated to Guy Davenport. A book on Donald Barthelme’s syllabus.
This is an intro I wrote for a panel discussion that I moderated last September: “Why Do We Have Poetry Readings?”, part of the daylong Series A Mini-Conference: Conversations about Poetry, held at the Hyde Park Art Center and curated by Bill Allegrezza.
I thought it might be of interest given Shya’s avant-garde post and ensuing conversation. My purpose behind the panel (which you can listen to here) was to bring together five series curators who are doing great work, so they could have more of a platform for their ideas. Because I think that a lot can be done to improve literary readings.
My five very gracious panel participants were:
- Jennifer Karmin, who co-curates the Red Rover Series in Chicago;
- Shanny Maney-Magnuson, who co-curates the Ear Candy Slam in Normal, IL and the Encyclopedia Show in Chicago;
- Ira S. Murfin, who co-founded and produced the Annual Arizona Spoken Word Festival and Slab City Slam at the urban design project Arcosanti, where he also organized the communal Monday Night Reading series;
- Larry Sawyer, who curates the Myopic Poetry Series in Chicago;
- Erin Teegarden, who curates the Rec Room reading and performance series in Chicago.
Despite the focus here on poetry readings, the ideas can be applied to many different types of literary performances. I’ve also embedded some videos to add “Internet Value.”