Ian Boyden’s Name as Fundamental Pattern (Reads from A Forest of Names)

This post has been updated to include video from the January 22, 2021 talk:

I met Ian Boyden about ten or so years ago through our mutual friend Sam Hamill and we’ll always be marked by that experience, in the best way possible. (Sure, we have some less than flattering Sam stories, but were hugely influenced by Sam’s commitment to art, poetry and justice and that’s what we remember most. Along with too much saké and not enough hamachikama and tempura shiso, but I digress.)

Ian presents material related to his impressive new book A Forest of Names on 7pm PST Friday, January 22, 2021 and you can read about that here. (Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2064225002 )

A FOREST OF NAMES is a book of 108 meditations on names of schoolchildren killed in the 2008 Wenchuan Earthquake, one of the deadliest earthquakes in human history, leaving tens of thousands dead, and millions displaced from their homes. A disproportionate number of the dead were schoolchildren, who were killed when their government-built school collapsed on them. Not only did the government refuse to hold accountable those who had built the schools in such a shoddy manner, but they actually determined the subject “politically sensitive” and forbade the discussion of these children, refused to list their names. Those who survived, the parents, siblings, whole communities weren’t allowed to grieve. This book is a quest for justice by Ian, an exercise in translation, compassion and has made him persona non grata in China, as you can imagine.

I have interviewed Ian on a few occasions.

On his new book:

Ian Boyden Interview (A Forest of Names)

on an Ai Weiwei exhibit related to the new book that he curated:

Ai WeiWei Exhibit on San Juan Island

And with Sam Hamill about one of their collaborations:

Sam Hamill, Ian Boyden, Reading, Talk and Interview (Nov 11, 2012)

There will be Q&A after Ian’s presentation. I hope you’ll join us.



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A Reading of Projective Verse

This post has been edited to include video of the reading of the seminal Charles Olson essay Projective Verse:

Charles Olson

It was October 1995 and I had just finished lunch with Michael McClure, the day I met him. It was after an interview we conducted at the old KZOK-FM studios on Queen Anne Hill to discuss Three Poems and his break-though long poem Dolphin Skull. He wanted Vietnamese spring rolls, “not the fried ones,” and we went to a place on 12th & Jackson. As we looked downhill to Elliott Bay after lunch, we could see the Smith Tower and maybe the Olympic Mountains, and he told me if I liked his poetry, it was probably because of the method, which was “Projective Verse” and that I should read the essay by Charles Olson OUT LOUD because Olson wrote it in a way that emulated Ezra Pound. So, I did. I got the essay, probably from The Poetics of the New American Poetry and took it to KPLU, where (at the time) I was doing a weekly overnight shift.

I brought the book into a production studio and during tunes, read a paragraph or two and over the course of two shifts, I believe it was, I had the recording, which I then listened to over and over until I loaned the cassette to someone and never saw it again. But by then the piece was internalized. Not that I understood everything in it. I still don’t, and it is a life-long study, but I did wonder at the time how to discern the projective from the non-projective, made it (and methods sympathetic to PV, like Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov’s “Organic” and Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser’s “The Practice of Outside“) the basis of my graduate work. (Later I would see how the “impersonal” as related to Gary Snyder’s work was also a similar “stance-toward-poem-making.”)

Charles Olson was born on December 27, 1910 and would be 110 Sunday. Projective Verse was published in 1950 and would be 70 this year. To celebrate, and to leave a lasting legacy for those interested in this stance-toward-poem-making, Chuck Pirtle and I (at his suggestion) will read all of Projective Verse on Sunday, December 27, at 4pm and we hope you’ll “tune in” or watch the video, which I plan to post online and then link to THIS POST. This essay has been life-changing for me and is essential for anyone who wants to have a life of poetry and practice at a depth beyond the superficial, which is mostly what we have in poetry culture on this continent in 2020.

Paul E Nelson is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Paul E Nelson/ Chuck Pirtle Zoom Reading of Projective Verse
Time: Dec 27, 2020 04:00 PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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1.1.2021 American Sentence

1.1.2021 – 2020 was taken out to the alley & shot in the head.

Buy the book, $11.99.

12.31.2020 marked the completion of twenty years of daily practice of composing American Sentences. (17 syllable poems, a form initiated by Beat legend Allen Ginsberg.) A new edition of the original book, published after 14 years of daily practice is set come out in 2021 from Apprentice House.

Wishing you the best for post-Corona, post-Trump 2021!

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