Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Hats Off

Wherever We Put Our Hats # 3 docks this week.

Dana Ward
Clayton A. Couch
Heather Brinkman
Rodrigo Toscano
Valzhyna Mort
Matt Turner
Kristin Prevallet
Anne Boyer

4, 5, or trade

Friday, January 06, 2006

Contemporary Poetry: Write That Syllabus!

Look out world: next year they're letting me teach contemporary poetry. Here's your chance to write my syllabus.

Okay, more precisely: The course is called "Contemporary Poetry in English," which would seem to include writing from any country except Canada--not that Canadians don't speak English, but that there is already a separate full-year course on modern Canadian poetry. It's a one-semester (13-week) course, so figure at most one short collection of poetry per week.

"Contemporary" I would usually interpret to be post-1945, but most of the "modern" courses here run to 1960, so perhaps we should think post-1960; in any case, it seems likely that I'll emphasize much more recent writing. Given my own interests, it also seems likely that I'll focus on American poetry.

I've got plenty of ideas of my own. But I'm interested in hearing suggestions, either just of what you all think would be important or that you've taught before. Also, has anyone ever found a contemporary poetry anthology that would work for a course like this? All the ones I can think of have various drawbacks, but let me know what you think.

From the Reader's Guide

Americans are often criticized for being ignorant and indifferent to cultures that exist beyond their own. To what extent do you believe this is true?

Where does the tension in this story lie? Did you guess the outcome?

Have you ever witnessed or participated in this kind of aggression against a group of people in your community? What was the outcome?

Do you think she has learned from her mistakes, or is she becoming mixed up in her own?

In what ways do the characters in these stories reject Western ideas and culture? In what ways do they buy into the American ideal?

Thursday, January 05, 2006

APIA Blogs

New link: the APIA Blog Network, which collects feeds from a range of Asian American blogs.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Happy New Year, all. Seems the holidays aren't really so good for blogging: even less likely than usual that I'll be sitting in front of my computer for more than 15 minutes at a time.

The first week of term is perhaps not the best time to go into the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, whose basement warren is claustrophobic enough on a slow day; I kept getting poked by elbows and handbags. Still, I managed to do plenty of damage: the big offender being Ted Berrigan's Collected Poems, which I've been eyeing for weeks in two countries. You know you're at a good bookstore when the woman at the register (despite the crowd) says how much she loves Berrigan and that she'd given the book as a gift to an old teacher of hers.

I feel more or less professionally obligated to at least glance at any new book by an Asian American writer. The Seminary Co-op is remarkably cooperative (ha) in this respect; the new-fiction shelves surrounding the main table (always groaning with the latest scholarly hardcovers) always have a remarkably good selection of Asian American writing. I took a pass on Gish Jen's new novel--a line on the first page, something like "My Asian--or, should I say, Asian American--children..." struck me as a little too knowing--but did pick up Aimee Phan's story collection We Should Never Meet; the day before I'd gotten another collection, Sightseeing, by Thai American writer Rattawut Lapcharoensap.

I also picked up Tibetan American poet Tsering Wangmo Dhompa's second (!) book, In the Absent Everday. I haven't had a chance to read through it yet, but I think this is probably the first time I've seen a blurb on a book that's taken straight from a blog: it's from Ron Silliman, of course.