2008 – 2009 Readings and Talks

Adam Zagajewski

October 23, 2008

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge


— Adam Zagajewski

In that café in a foreign town bearing a French writer’s
name I read Under the Volcano
but with diminishing interest. You should heal yourself,
I thought. I’d become a philistine.
Mexico was distant, and its vast stars
no longer shone for me. The day of the dead continued.
A feast of metaphors and light. Death played the lead.
Alongside a few patrons at the tables, assorted fates:
Prudence, Sorrow, Common Sense. The Consul, Yvonne.
Rain fell. I felt a little happiness. Someone entered,
someone left, someone finally discovered the perpetuum mobile.
I was in a free country. A lonely country.
Nothing happened, the heavy artillery lay still.
The music was indiscriminate: pop seeped
from the speakers, lazily repeating: many things will happen.
No one knew what to do, where to go, why.
I thought of you, our closeness, the scent
of your hair in early autumn.
A plane ascended from the runway
like an earnest student who believes
the ancient masters’ sayings.
Soviet cosmonauts insisted that they didn’t find
God in space, but did they look?

Read more about Adam Zagajewski

Carolyn Forche

November 11, 2008

Seminar: 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading: 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge

The Testimony Of Light

— Carolyn Forché

Our life is a fire dampened, or a fire shut up in stone.
–Jacob Boehme, De Incarnatione Verbi

Outside everything visible and invisible a blazing maple.
Daybreak: a seam at the curve of the world. The trousered legs of the women shimmered.
They held their arms in front of them like ghosts.

The coal bones of the house clinked in a kimono of smoke.
An attention hovered over the dream where the world had been.

For if Hiroshima in the morning, after the bomb has fallen,
is like a dream, one must ask whose dream it is. {1}

Must understand how not to speak would carry it with us.
With bones put into rice bowls.
While the baby crawled over its dead mother seeking milk.

Muga-muchu {2}: without self, without center. Thrown up in the sky by a wind.

The way back is lost, the one obsession.
The worst is over.
The worst is yet to come.

1–…is the question asked by Peter Schwenger in Letter Bomb.
Nuclear Holocaust and the Exploding Word.
2–…is from Robert Jay Lifton’s Death in Life: Survivors of Hiroshima.

Read more about Carolyn Forché

Clayton Eshleman

November 20, 2008

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge

Silence Raving

— Clayton Eshleman

Patters, paters, Apollo globes, sound
breaking up with silence, coals
I can still hear, entanglement of sense pools,
the way a cave might leak perfume–

in the Cro-Magnons went, along its wet hide walls,
as if a flower in, way in, drew their leggy
panspermatic bodies, spidering over
bottomless hunches, groping toward Persephone’s fate:
to be quicksanded by the fungus pulp of Hades’ purple hair
exploding in their brains.

They poured their foreheads into the coals and corrals
zigzagged about in the night air–
the animals led in crossed
a massive vulva incised before the gate,
the power that came up from it was paradise, the power
the Cro-Magnons bequeathed to us:
to make an altar of our throats.

The first words were mixed with animal fat,
wounded men tried to say who did it.
The group was the rim of a to-be-invented wheel,
their speech was spokes, looping over,
around, the hub of the fire, its silk of us,
its burn of them, bop we dip, you dip,
we dip to you, you will dip to us, Dionysus
the plopping, pooling words, stirred
by the lyre gaps between the peaks of flame,
water to fire, us to them.

Foal-eyes, rubbery, they looped
back into those caves whose walls could be strung
between their teeth, the sticky soul material pulled to
The sides by their hands, ooh
what bone looms they sewed themselves into, ah
what tiny male spiders they were
on the enormous capable of devouring them
female rock elastic word!

Read more about Clayton Eshleman

Li-Young Lee

January 22, 2009

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge

The Children’s Hour

— Li-Young Lee

Soldiers with guns are at our door again.
Sister, quick. Change into a penny.
I’ll fold you in a handkerchief,
put you in my pocket
and jump inside a sack,
one of the uncooked rice.

Brother, hurry. Turn yourself
into one of our mother’s dolls
on the living room shelf. I’ll be the dust
settling on your eyelids.

The ones wearing wings are in the yard.
The ones wearing lightning are in the house.
The ones wearing stars and carrying knives
are dividing our futures among them.

Don’t answer when they call to us in the voice of Nanny.
Don’t listen when they promise sugar.
Don’t come out until evening,
or when you hear our mother weeping to herself.

If only I could become the mirror in her purse,
I’d never come back until the end of time.

Read more about Li-Young Lee

Henrietta Rose-Innes

February 3, 2009

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge

From Promenade

— Henrietta Rose-Innes

On my outward journey, the sea lies to my left, grey or blue or silver. Fifteen minutes at a swift stride from my flat down the steep street, to the sea wall and along the path to the traffic lights opposite the garage and café. Here I sometimes pause to stretch on the strip of lawn, before continuing another fifteen minutes along the promenade as far as the public telephones. Then I wheel around and go back in the other direction, one-two one-two, with the sea on my right, half an hour, pausing only to cross at the lights to the café for the day’s Argus. I roll the newspaper tightly and hold it baton-like in one hand for the rest of the route home (only unsatisfactory on the weekends, when the editions are too fat for comfort). I always take with me just enough change in the special zip-up pocket in my top ‐ plus twenty cents, because sometimes they put up the price without warning ‐ and my house key. No wallet or cellphone; although the promenade is busy and safe at that time, you can never be too careful. And I like to stay light.

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Rod Smith and Marjorie Welish

February 19, 2009

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge

From Love Poems

— Rod Smith
If a lion could speak, we would not understand him.

Listen to the lion. Like
an owl in the
heaped instant
oil-death craft, my love
my driftwood my
Susquehana deckhand
disturbance, so sad, printed
into everything taken.
That enormous bandaged
boundary behind
the open muffling
Is to be filled rain
envisioned, tall
fear rim peopled &
transmuting different
bunk in us “surrounding
a little bird-buddha”
in an ad for an ad for
Listen to the lion. Biological
crank turned by burned
sausage into the vacuum
of affirmation where my
oft inner floated mesquite
self’s Ismene suddness
is known spirals sleep and
clear. No roads can show
the middle eye something
other objects shot into
the sky. When giving.
No tactile surface
is stone moist to the
toned raking Paris
you wish. The sun
has several names, like
Sherman, Tazmo, Bonk,
& Harmine– it’s risen
raves retake Atlanta
from nothingÕs lost
laundry room key &
we, clean in those
clothes have regone
there, we’ve done
a hell of a job.
thank you. We’ve
done exactly what
was expected of
us. & we
are not dead. 6
tabs re-side baste
& coax ton’s opera-knuckle
brisket. Pal 1
is the cloned guy, &
loosely they have
or will have nice
copulated currency, as
if a tusk warranted Suzuki,
as if, portly
a re-stained tore heart’s
made timing looked
back in tears over this
strange be.

Read more about Rod Smith

North Perimeter Road

— Marjorie Welish
Having to forego open doors for that which is sculpture’s submitting to
poetry – or unnaming it, “it” assumed to be what? Enter the turnstile
poetry-as-sculpture that is the name roving through some falling
decomposition. Poetry-as-sculpture indented through silent matter
might slip in. Listening in a labyrinth, singing into a corner of a thought: it being
sculpted lip-synch without having to say, whispering permanently The Haves
The Have-Nots
for that which forego open doors and may be assumed to be
floating here and here also. Your initials. “It” however is indicative
of your having submitted to discrepant descriptions
of unnaming. And here also. Here is your turnstile
called “performance.” Here is the unnaming you seek: of “it”: it’s broken,
it’s skipping a page of here and her also that meet on a platform,
some falling phrases assumed to be…what? and yet having to forego an arm
for that which is both and neither inaugural writing indented, together with
your having the item. Unnaming it, assumed to be

larger than Phelps the word meadows
made to fold Forrestville envelope in aerial
map or for that matter the motto Adopting a Child
Shaping a Life Building a Home Forrestville

and here also. It throughout words is an estate of
your having a turnstile satisfying populations with/without
artifact at the level of acknowledgment. Shouting through shutters.

Read more about Marjorie Welish

Ciaran Carson

March 3, 2009

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge


— Ciarán Carson

I fear the vast dimensions of eternity.
I fear the gap between the platform and the train.
I fear the onset of a murderous campaign.
I fear the palpitations caused by too much tea.

I fear the drawn pistol of a rapparee.
I fear the books will not survive the acid rain.
I fear the ruler and the blackboard and the cane.
I fear the Jabberwock, whatever it might be.

I fear the bad decisions of a referee.
I fear the only recourse is to plead insane.
I fear the implications of a lawyer’s fee.

I fear the gremlins that have colonized my brain.
I fear to read the small print of the guarantee.
And what else do I fear? Let me begin again.

Read more about Ciarán Carson

Eileen Myles and Nalo Hopkinson

March 17, 2009

Seminar 5:30 PM | ICC 462
Reading 8:00 PM | Copley Formal Lounge


— Eileen Myles

It’s just not as much fun without a good
light and a sharp knife
I mean leaning into the peach of
it. People find the time
to get theirs sharpened somewhere
or use yours, or the one the horrible
subletter left. The drip in the kitchen is like
someone I know. Today’s cold
was an affirmation of the purchase
of yesterday’s new shirt. I knew the cold
would come some time but today.
I’m wearing that drip most of all.
My half made meal and even the space
that surrounds the incredible possibility
of hunger on and on like my favorite man
Frankenstein. The drip has tones.
A relationship with the holding
bowl that is only holding water.
All these rhymes all the time. I used to
think Mark Wahlberg was family.
So was Tim but close to his death
he told me he was adopted. Every
time he smiled he thought Eileen
is a fool. Or that’s what love looks
like. If I woke and my master was horrified
I would go out into the world with this
enormous hurt. And I have carried mine
for so long I now know it’s nothing special.
It’s just the fall and the sound of her sirens. It’s the agony
of being human. Not a dog who dies maybe six
times in the lives of her masters. Everyone’s phony
and made up. Everyone’s a monster like me.
Now I know everyone.

Read more about Eileen Myles

From Brown Girl In The Ring

— Nalo Hopkinson 

“Prince of Cemetery!” Mami hissed, her eyes wide. She kept her rhythm going, but even softer.

”You know so, old lady”, Ti-Jeanne rumbled. She pranced on long legs over to Mami, bent down, down, down; ran a bony forefinger over the old woman’s cheek. “Good and old, yes? Like you nearly ready to come to me soon, daughter!”

To Tony’s surprise, Mami Gros-Jeanne spoke sternly, drumming all the while, to the spirit that was riding her granddaughter. “I ain’t no daughter of yours. Stop the foolishness and tell me what you doing with Ti-Jeanne. You know she head ain’t ready to hold no spirits yet.”

Ti-Jeanne/Prince of Cemetery chuckled, a hollow sound like bones falling into a pit. He danced over to Eshu’s stone head and used a long, long finger to scoop up some of the chicken blood thickening there. Slowly he licked and sucked it off his finger, smiling like a child scraping out the batter bowl. Tony’s stomach roiled. “But doux-doux”, Prince of Cemetery said, “Your granddaughter head full of spirits already; she ain’t tell you? All kind of duppy and thing.
When she close she eyes, she does see death. She belong to me. She is my daughter. You should ‘fraid of she.”

Read more about Nalo Hopkinson