Comparisons meant to illuminate
Wayne koestenbaum and poetic ethics after Pittsburgh (Public Seminar, 2018)
A reading of Koestenbaum’s Camp Marmalade, after the deadliest attack on Jews in the country’s history. But instead of weighing Jewish vulnerability vs. power at this moment, which leads to confusion and fear, choose instead an ethics of discernment and solidarity.
Giorgio agamben and secular religion (jewish currents, 2018)
A secular reading of the Torah's story of revelation, emphasizing the tradition’s own focus on the earthly, human, and interactive origins of the Law, instead of the transcendent, divine, and received. Building on the framework of the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben, it suggests the anti-authoritarian implications of this tradition for contemporary politics.
Urbanism and John Ashbery (Public Seminar, 2018)
Cities gave Ashbery's poetry its energy. But he learned urbanism in part through Arthur Rimbaud, who turned away from the revolutionary possibilities of city life. Ashbery's last poems addressed this contradiction and delivered a kind of elegy to the 19th century avant-garde he brought into the 20th.
Poetry and agency under trump (Boston review, 2017)
Poems can provide a sense of what it means to act upon the world, with all the uncertainty that comes from not knowing the results of action.
IDENTITY AND THE AVANT-GARDE (Boston review, 2016)
Attentiveness may better lead to an examination of the frailty and necessity of progress.
ashbery's flow chart and public policy (at length magazine, 2015)
Compelling schema, and deeply lived experience, cannot exist independently of each other.
THE SUFFERING OF OTHERS (Boston review, 2012)
Perception inserts contingency into the course of history. Excerpts here.
When that becomes this (Boston Review, 2011)
Poetry and politics share at least two uses of comparison: one serves serves an expansionary vision of the world, the other, retrenchment. Both understand the limits of comparison, but the first treats these differentially, as part of a strategy to bring to mind differences among forms of experience. The second develops self-consciously false, totalizing comparisons among dissimilar things, even as it decries inappropriate comparisons when employed by antagonists. Ironically, both the U.S. political right and some leftist poets at times employ the second strategy, although for opposite goals. Full article here.
Poetry and the Public Sphere: A forum (Boston Review, 2012)
Sparked by the article, including discussion with Stephen Burt, Charles Bernstein, and Marjorie Perloff. Forum here.