No-Comfort Zone Week ending Oct. 28 2012

This week’s challenges have  been split between self-care and enjoying week 7 of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry over o the Coursera platform.


It’s week two of the CHIP program, and the constant weather changes have been playing with my aches ‘n pains and sinuses. I’ve been learning a new relaxation technique so I am hoping that will help me refocus away from that. I had started taking some supplements but they seemed to just give me more issues, so stopped again. It isn’t good to self-diagnose anyway. So let’s forget those and think about MODPO!



This week we studied the New York School, looking at Frank O’Hara’s The Day Lady Died and A Step Away from Them. These were an intro into O’Hara in preparation for Assignment 3, to do a close reading of Why I Am Not a Painter. Not really happy with my essay, but it is done, and that is the main thing.


We also looked at a funny pastiche by Kenneth Koch Variations on a Theme by William Carlos Williams which lead to a discussion forum on creating our own pastiche on this or one of the other or all of the poems we’ve looked at over the last seven weeks. This made for some really fun and strange offerings, with some poems a mix of many poets and styles parodied. (I’m not sure where some folks find the time to write so many of these or to follow so many of the discussions. This week I had to concentrate on the assignment as I tried to decipher the difference between anti-narrative and alt-narrative.Not sure I got it right.)


We also looked at Barbara Guest‘s 20 before considering Some Trees and Hard Times by John Ashbery.  We also met Ted Berrigan in his poem, 3 Pages, and finished up with Bernadette Mayer‘s Invasion of the Body Snatchers.



Next week’s intro and discussion forums are now up, and tomorrow we start looking at the essays we are assigned to evaluate. And we do the intro week to Language poetry, starting with Ron Silliman who was here in Ottawa in March for a reading and workshop at A B Series. Ron was a fascinating speaker with an incredible memory for all things poetry. He even keeps up on the Canadian scene, which is great.  We’ll also look at Lyn Hejinian, Bob Perelman, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, and revisit Rae Armantrout before concluding with more of Silliman.


Looks like another great week of poetry immersion!


No-Comfort Zone Week ending Oct. 14

For this week, of course, the challenge continued to be ModPo. We began with Ruth Lechlitner and Genevieve Taggart, and then proceeded to Harlem Renaissance poets Countee Cullen and Claude

Portrait of Countee Cullen in Central Park. Ju...

McKay. And Gwendolyn Brooks.

Next we went in a slightly different, rather Anti-modernist direction with Robert Frost’s Mending Wall. We watched a YouTube discussion about that with Bob Perelman, Rachel Blau Du Plessis, John Timpane and Taije Silverman, ably hosted by Professor Al Filreis.

I haven’t quite finished up Week 5 yet, as I still have two videos to watch. One is a discussion of Richard Wilbur‘s Cottage Street, 1953 and then X.J. Kennedy‘s ekphrastic poem on Duchamp’s painting by the same name, Nude Descending a Staircase.

Robert Frost, Dartmouth 1896.

Robert Frost, Dartmouth 1896. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is the stone wall at Frost's farm in Derr...

This is the stone wall at Frost’s farm in Derry, New Hampshire, which he described in “Mending Wall.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But I have done Wilbur’s The Death of a Toad, (1950).

Looking forward to the coming week as we begin to look at The Beats.

Also this week I am restarting the Complete Health Improvement Program, CHIP, originated by Dr. Hans Diehl. Need a refresher, and need to be more focused this time around.

Haven’t managed to keep up with The Southeast Review’s 30-day Regimen, but that will be waiting for me when I am done the ModPo course. Then it will be time to get back to my own writing!