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Serious Fun: The Spectra Poetry-Reading Series, Opening September 15 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 06 September 2012 05:53

To grasp the concept of the Midwest Writing Center’s new Spectra poetry-reading series, we might start with the 1916 book of the same name. In its preface, Anne Knish explained that the “Spectric” school “speaks ... of that process of diffraction by which are disarticulated the several colored and other rays of which light is composed. It indicates our feeling that the theme of a poem is to be regarded as a prism, upon which the colorless white light of infinite existence falls and is broken up into glowing, beautiful, and intelligible hues.”

Before you flee this article, understand that Spectra was a satiric hoax created by Arthur Davison Ficke (a Davenport native writing as Knish) and Witter Bynner (writing as Emanuel Morgan). The pair gleefully mocked the abstruse pretensions of modern free verse, but several prominent poets – including Edgar Lee Masters and William Carlos Williams – actually embraced the work, not recognizing its intent. Poetry magazine Editor Harriet Monroe accepted a handful of Spectric works before the hoax was revealed by Bynner.

Although the poems were mostly nonsense, they were compellingly playful. One opens: “Her soul was freckled / Like the bald head / Of a jaundiced Jewish banker.” It concludes: “This demonstrates the futility of thinking.” One of the most charming starts: “If I were only dafter / I might be making hymns / To the liquor of your laughter / And the lacquer of your limbs.”

And they were occasionally incisive. In one about “my little house of glass,” Knish wrote: “Sometimes I’m terribly tempted / To throw the stones myself.”

Adam FellTo show how this relates to the new poetry-reading series (which begins September 15), allow me to note that one of the first two featured writers, Adam Fell, closes his poem “Summer Lovin Torture Party” with these oddly familiar lines: “I can feel it coming in the air tonight, oh lord. / I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life.”

 
Enter the Reader’s 2012 Short-Fiction Contest! Deadline September 7! PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 26 July 2012 12:22

We recently freed our short-fiction-contest troll from his five-year captivity in the River Cities’ Reader dungeon, and based on the rules he devised for the 2012 competition, he’s grumpy. (Some might note that Jeff is always grumpy, but never mind.)

Let’s start with the easy rules.

 
A Long Shot Comes in: Jaimy Gordon, April 19 at Augustana College PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Wednesday, 11 April 2012 05:08

Jaimy GordonThere are few people in the arts who admit to being concerned about either their fame or their place in history. Jaimy Gordon is one of that rare breed, but she doesn’t need to fret anymore.

Over the past decade, she said in a phone interview last week promoting her April 19 reading at Augustana College, she wondered whether “I was going to be swallowed up in the oblivion of people who are just mildly well-known in their own lifetimes and then forgotten about.”

Since 1981, she has been on the faculty at Western Michigan University – in a creative-writing program that doesn’t have the cachet of, for example, the University of Iowa’s. Her 1974 novel Shamp of the City-Solo is considered a cult classic, and her 1999 Bogeywoman was a Los Angeles Times “best book of the year.”

She had the respect of her peers but said she remained a nonentity in the publishing world. “I had what I would have called a career,” she said. “But to my surprise, the New York Times among other places didn’t even recognize it as existing. It wasn’t even on the map until I suddenly became famous with this book.”

 
Destroy the Language: Matt Hart and the Poets of “Locuspoint: Quad Cities,” March 10 at Rozz-Tox PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Jeff Ignatius   
Thursday, 08 March 2012 08:52

Matt Hart

Philosophy wouldn’t seem to lead naturally to poetry, but it can if you find the right philosopher. For Cincinnati-based poet Matt Hart – who will be reading from his work on Saturday at Rozz-Tox along with poets from the Quad Cities edition of the national journal Locuspoint – it was the 20th Century Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Hart fell in love with poetry as an undergraduate at Ball State University, but he studied philosophy. Pursing a graduate degree in the subject at Ohio University, though, “I really bought Wittgenstein hook, line, and sinker. As a result, I quit doing philosophy. One of his main ideas is that philosophy is a sort of mental illness; if you understand him, you quit doing it.”

And Wittgenstein offered an alternative to philosophy’s relentless rational argument, writing that “philosophy ought really to be written only as a form of poetry.”

 
Kitties in the Christmas Stocking: Local Author Connie Corcoran Wilson Releases a New Children's Book for the Holidays PDF Print E-mail
News/Features - Literature
Written by Mike Schulz   
Monday, 21 November 2011 06:00

Connie Corcoran Wilson with granddaughters Ava and Elise WilsonSome grandmas, during the holiday season, will give toys as presents. Others will give clothes.

Connie Corcoran Wilson, though, is giving her granddaughters a book ... that she wrote and published herself.

“It’s my Christmas gift to the girls,” says Wilson of her new children’s book Christmas Cats in Silly Hats, the second self-published work by the much-published local author. “I wrote it for them, and thought it would be a nice present.

“Of course,” she says with a laugh, “marketing-wise, I didn’t think it would be such a dumb thing, either. You might not rush out to buy it in July, but in December ... !”

 
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